This started with a lemon meringue pie and eventually segued into something altogether different: a zesty lime tart with a sugar cookie crust, topped with a shiny, marshmallowy Swiss meringue.
The back story: my mother made a lemon meringue pie that everyone loved. Her lemon filling was topped with just the right amount of meringue. The balance of flavors was perfect! Every forkful yielded up soft marshmallowlike meringue, tart lemon and a crunch of pie crust.
I never learned how to make my mother’s meringue pie and I never found a lemon meringue pie that I liked after that. The “Mile High Meringue” with which most lemon meringue pies are covered, gives me mouthfuls of beaten egg whites, an airy meringue, that is very sweet. The meringue is so high and voluminous that it is hard to get a bite which contains meringue, lemon filling and crust together.
Still, a lemon meringue pie seems like something I should know how to make.
Last week I saw a blog from Joy the Baker for her version of a lemon meringue pie Her pie did not look at all like the lemon meringue pies I had become accustomed to seeing. The meringue did not rise three times as high as the pie. It hovered a few inches above the pie. And it glistened. The shiny peaks, lightly browned, looked more like marshmallow fluff then a cloud of egg whites. It looked…familiar.
I decided to try it, with some changes.
Rick loves, loves, loves Key Lime Pie so my pie was going to be a lime meringue pie.
Start with a sweet shortcrust pie dough.
(It’s easiest to do this the day before.)
Most recipes call for a Pate Brisee, a sweet shortcrust pastry, almost like a cookie. I wanted a crust that would be delicious by itself, so I add some lime zest, ginger and a touch of almond extract.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg white and finally the flour. Mix it until it comes together in a ball, leaving the sides of the mixer bowl clean.
Flatten it into a disk and refrigerate it for an hour or more. (Up to three days if you like!)
When you are ready to bake it, lightly dust a sheet of parchment paper with powdered sugar. Place the disk of dough on it and dust it lightly with a bit more powdered sugar. Using the sugar instead of extra flour means you aren’t adding any extra raw gluten to your dough, helping you to achieve a tender cookie or crust.
Lift the dough on the parchment paper and invert it over into the tart pan. Use your fingers to pat it down evenly in the pan and up the sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, even better overnight.
When you are ready, line the tart crust with parchment paper and weight it down.
Bake for 20 minutes then remove the weights and paper, brush with beaten egg white and bake for ten minutes more, until it is lightly browned and cooked.
You can stop here and continue tomorrow or let it cool while you make the filling.
Make a lime curd filling.
Before you start, have ready the baked pie crust, an instant read thermometer and a fine mesh strainer.
Zest three limes and juice three limes. Add enough lime juice to the fresh juice to make one cup. Put the lime juice, zest, sugar, and eggs into a medium sauce pan and whisk it together until it is smooth. Add the cubed butter and put the pan over medium heat. Stir it constantly as the butter melts.
Keep stirring until it thickens (around 160-165 degrees).
Immediately pass the curd through the sieve into the pie crust. Do not skip this step. You will be surprised at how many solids are left in the sieve.
Spread the curd evenly in the crust and bake it for five minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. It will thicken more as it does so.
Once the pie has cooled,
Make the meringue.
Put everything in the top of a double boiler.
If you are like me and didn’t realize you were out of cream of tartar (or if you never had cream of tarter to begin with) you can substitute a ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. Cream of tartar helps stabilize the eggs whites, making your meringue last long.
Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk the mixture together until the sugar has melted and it reaches 160 degrees.
Immediately pour it into the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk on high for up five minutes until it is thick and holds a peak.
You can pipe the meringue onto the pie or drop it in large spoonfuls over the curd.
Brown the meringue for ten minutes under a broiler or use a small blow torch to toast the peaks of meringue.
LIME TART WITH SWISS MERINGUE
For the pastry
- ½ c butter room temperature
- ¼ c sugar
- Zest of one lime
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 2 egg whites separated
- 1 tbsp water
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 1 ½ c flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- Powdered sugar for rolling dough
For the lime curd
- 4 limes
- ¾ to 1 c lime juice
- ¾ c sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ c butter diced
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
For the meringue
- 4 egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tarter
- 1 c sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Make the Pastry
- Cream together the butter, sugar, lime zest and ginger for 5 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer on high.
- Whisk together one egg white, 1 tbsp water and the almond extract in a small bowl (Reserve the egg yolk to use in the curd).
- Add the egg white mixture to the creamed butter and beat for 1-2 minutes until combined.
- Scrape down the bowl and add the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix together until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.
- Form the dough into a ball and flatten into a 1” disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to three days.
- To roll the dough, remove the dough from the refrigerator for 30 minutes until pliable.
- Lightly dust a sheet of parchment paper with powdered sugar. Place the dough on the parchment paper and lightly dust the top of the dough. Roll the dough to a 12” circle (for a 9” tart pan). Use the parchment paper to lift the dough and invert it into the tart pan. Press it evenly into the pan. Cover ed and freeze for a
- When you are ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the frozen pie crust with parchment paper and use pie weights or beans to weigh it down. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper and brush the crust all over with egg white (Reserve the yolk for the curd). Return the pie to the oven and bake for a further ten minutes until lightly browned.
- Cool the pie crust while you make the filling.
Make the Lime Curd
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Zest and juice four limes. Add enough lime juice to the fresh lime juice to make one cup.
- Place the zest and lime juice in a medium saucepan along with the sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks. Whisk it together until it is mixed.
- Have ready a fine meshed sieve, the bake tart and an instant read thermometer.
- Place the pan on medium heat, add the butter and whisk the mixture continually. The butter will melt and the mixture will thicken (around 160-165 degrees). Immediately remove the pan from the stovetop and pour the curd through the sieve into the tart crust.
- Bake the tart for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
Make the Swiss Meringue
- Fill the bottom of a double boiler with about 2” of water and bring to a simmer.
- Place all of the ingredients for the meringue in the top of the double boiler. Whisk to combine and place the pot over the boiling water. Continue whisking until it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and put the contents in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk on medium high speed until it holds a peak.
- You can pipe the mixture onto your tart or drop it in large spoonful’s on the curd.
- Brown the top of the meringue with a small blowtorch or under the broiler of your oven.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
- Store, covered in the refrigerator.
If you don't have any cream of tartar, you can use an equal amount of lemon juice.
For an very white meringue, use clear vanilla extract.
If you don't have a double boiler, heat the water in a saucepan and use a bowl which will rest in the pan above the water to cook the eggs whites.