Out of the oven just in time: lime meringue tart from Paris-based pastry… (S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles…)
Yesterday I had some friends coming over for dinner. I had a tree full of Mexican limes. In the usual way of things, I’d make a no-fail dessert: key lime pie, cool and refreshing in this weather. But that morning, poking around my computer, I came across a recipe I’d saved from pastry chef and Paris-based raconteur David Lebovitz’s blog "Living the Sweet Life in Paris": lime meringue tart.
I decided to try that instead, something to take me out of my comfort zone. Basically, it’s a lime curd filling made with butter, eggs, lime juice, lime zest and sugar with a billowy meringue topping.
The crust was different — a counter-intuitive recipe he’d learned from Paris cooking teacher Paule Caillat that involved boiling butter in the oven until it browned at the edges and then dumping it over flour, stirring until it formed a ball. No rolling out involved, you simply press it into the tart pan.
His meringue method was new to me, too (though he notes you can also do it the conventional way). This one involves whisking the egg whites and sugar in a mixer bowl over simmering water to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, then whipping on high speed until fluffy. The resulting meringue has an almost creamy texture. Note that I decided to use three egg whites instead of his two because I wanted to spread the meringue over the entire top of the tart, not just pipe it around the edges.
The final touch is browning the meringue under a broiler. Watch carefully, he cautions. I turned away to say something to my husband — one sentence — just enough that I almost burned the meringue. I rushed it out of the oven in the nick of time. A few more seconds would have been disaster.
The pie was a perfect balance of tart lime filling to gently sweet meringue set on a crisp buttery crust. This recipe is a keeper from the ever reliable Mr. Lebovitz.
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