Lia Weber’s Lemon Meringue Tart
2 2/3 cups pastry flour
1 cup plus 3½ Tbsp. powdered sugar, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
Half a vanilla bean
5 eggs, divided
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
1¾ cup plus 2¼ Tbsp. granulated sugar
4 egg whites
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
3 Tbsp. water
Special equipment: candy/deep fry thermometer
• In a large mixing bowl, sift together the pastry flour and ¼ cup plus 2½ tablespoons powdered sugar. Set aside.
• In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 1 cup butter on medium speed until smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes, then add the remaining ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds into the bowl and beat them into the butter-sugar mixture on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture and 1 egg until the ingredients are just combined, about 1 minute. Do not over mix.
• Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times to bring it together. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes until chilled.
• Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath. Fill a medium saucepot with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the lemon zest and juice, ¾ cup plus 2¼ tablespoons granulated sugar and the remaining 4 eggs in a large metal mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmer water to create a double boiler and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 170 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons softened butter. Place the bowl in the ice water bath until cool, then refrigerate until needed.
• Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the tart dough onto a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Four 4-inch tarts, cut out 12 5- to 6-inch circles or for 8-inch tarts, cut out 2 9- to 10-inch circles. Gently press the rounds into the tart pans and refrigerate 5 minutes.
• Bake the tart shells about 10 minutes until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
• Meanwhile, place the egg whites and a pinch of granulated sugar into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-low speed until slightly frothy, 3 to 5 minutes.
• In a medium saucepan, mix together slightly less than 1 cup granulated sugar, the corn syrup and water over medium-low heat. Bring the sugar mixture to 248 degrees, then remove from heat. With the mixer on medium-low speed, carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. When all the syrup is added, whip the egg whites on medium-high until the meringue is cool and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
• To assemble the tarts, gently remove the shells from the tart pans. Divide the chilled lemon curd evenly between the tart shells, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Place the meringue in a pastry bag and pipe it on top of the tarts or gently spread the meringue on top of the tarts with a rubber spatula for a more rustic look. The tarts can be eaten as is, or brulee the meringue with a pastry torch or under a broiler about 1 minute until golden.