These classic lemon meringue tarts are bursting with tangy deliciousness. Each mini tart is baked to perfection to produce a dessert that never goes amiss. The filling is creamy and zesty while being encased in a rich and buttery shortcrust pastry. Each lemon tart is then topped with a sweet and delicately torched Italian meringue.
They require less than 10 ingredients and the simplicity of this recipe makes them a favourite go-to of mine.
The shortcrust pastry
I chose a traditional shortcrust recipe that uses a 1:1 ratio of butter to flour. The only difference is that 25 g of flour is replaced with icing sugar to slightly sweeten it. I recommend using a food processor to make it if possible. If you don’t have one then making it by hand is okay but avoid warming up the butter with your fingers. The goal is to avoid overworking the gluten which can lead to shrinking.
Slight shrinking isn’t much of an issue for me as I don’t find it affects the final outcome. But the less shrinkage the better. The easiest way to avoid this is to poke holes in the base using a fork and then weigh the pastry cases down using baking beans. I didn’t have any pastry beans but I did put a bit of pressure on the base once they had finished baking. This prevented the bottoms from doming upwards.
The lemon curd filling
The lemon filling recipe is from Pretty Simple Sweet. I’ve tried a few different lemon tart recipes and nothing compared to this one. It’s by far my favourite and actually reminds me of a lemon tart that I tried from a coffee shop in London. It’s creamy, soft and sets nicely in the fridge.
The original recipe suggests adding double cream but I find that the butter adds enough richness to the lemon curd.
The Italian Meringue
Italian meringue can be a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t baked with hot sugar before but it’s definitely worth making.
French and Swiss meringues are known to weep when placed on a lemon tart. There are a few techniques that you can use to avoid this but the easiest is to go ahead and make an Italian meringue. Plus Italian meringue tastes soo much better than the other types!
You can make it with a hand whisk if you don’t have a stand mixer. It just requires fast work and a steady hand.
You can also make it without a thermometer but I haven’t tried that yet. I’m all for sharing recipes that require minimal equipment so that the average home baker doesn’t have a thousand limits that prevent them from baking. I have another Italian meringue recipe in the works so I’ll let you once I’ve given the method a go.
Storing Lemon Meringue Tarts
Lemon meringue tarts can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Making These Ahead
Uncooked shortcrust pastry dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before being baking. You can also freeze shortcrust pastry for up to a month. The Italian meringue can also be made up to 2 days before serving.
Keep in mind that making the pastry or meringue before assembling will reduce the length of time that the lemon tarts can be stored in the refrigerator.
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Lemon Meringue Tarts
These classic lemon meringue tarts are zesty, lemony and finished with a delicately torched Italian meringue.
- 1 Cup + 1 tbsp (175 g) Plain flour
- 3 Tbsp (25 g) Powdered sugar
- ¼ Tsp Salt
- 7 Tbsp (100 g) Unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
- 2 – 3 tbsp Very cold water
Lemon curd Filling
- 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- ½ cup (120 ml) Freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 2-3 lemons
- ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¾ Cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ¼ Cup (60 ml) Water
- 75 g (2.6 oz) Egg whites, from 3 large eggs
Add the flour, powdered sugar and salt to a bowl and mix. Add the butter cubes to the bowl and use your fingers to press the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture forms. (See notes)*
Add water, 1 tbsp at a time and mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough once or twice then shape it into a slightly flattened ball with your hands. Wrap the dough in cling film, then chill for at least 1 hour. While the pastry is chilling – make the filling.
Once chilled, preheat your oven to 190 C (375 F). Split the dough into 6 equal pieces and roll out the pastry 1-inch larger than your mini tart tins. Fill each tart tins then use a fork to prick the base of the pastry several times.
Bake pastry for 15 – 20 minutes until golden. (Set notes)**
Lemon Curd Filling
Place the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice into a glass bowl and whisk to combine. Add water to a saucepan and set the bowl on top. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and whisk lemon curd continuously until mixture becomes thick. (This will take 10 – 15 minutes. If you have a thermometer, it should register 75 C (170F). The curd will continue to thicken once cooled.)
Remove from heat and immediately strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Add the butter cubes and whisk until completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow filling to cool to room temperature then fill each shortcrust case.
Refrigerate the lemon tarts for at least 4 hours until set
Use an electric whisk to begin beating the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. They should stand up straight when the whisk is removed.
Next, make a sugar syrup by adding the sugar and water to a saucepan. Stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. (Dip a pastry brush in water and brush any bits of sugar from the sides of the pan down into the syrup to melt, otherwise, it will turn the sugar syrup grainy.)
When all of the sugar is dissolved, bring it to a boil until it reaches 120 C (250 F). As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk.
When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff. Pipe or spread it onto your tarts. Use a blowtorch to caramelise the meringue or place it in a preheated oven grill for a few seconds.
Serve and enjoy!
* Try not to warm the butter too much when making the pastry. I recommend using a food processor to make the pastry if possible. Add the dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse. Add the cubes and continue to pulse until a crumble forms. Trickle the cold water (1 tbsp at a time) into the food processor and pulse until a ball forms.
** If you have baking beans then use those. They aren’t necessary but your pastry cases may dome at the base. Apply pressure to keep the base flat after removing them from the oven.
*** Each tart tin is 4-inches in diameter. This recipe will also fit a standard 9-inch tart tin but baking times for the shortcrust pastry should be adjusted accordingly.