January 6, 2010

Tarte au Citron Meringuée (Lemon Meringue Tart)

Here, we'd had quite a warm and drier Christmas week. But now, Mother Nature must've had shed away Her festive mood--we've been having pouring rain almost every morning and evening for the past few days.

Commuting from work to home by public transportation and on foot, constant downpour such as this isn't fun at all. Nonetheless, something unusual has gotten a hold of me today. I felt usually calm and quiet as I walked home--even the night market crowd wasn't the least bit of disturbance. Everything went passing me by. Despite having a bad (frizzy) hair day, I couldn't help but smile as the cool breeze blowing on to my cheeks gently.

I realized how lucky I've been. Having a job in this economic recession is a bless. It's true that I do complain about inevitable things happened at work that seem unreasonable and ridiculous to me. I used to get upset easily whenever there was a setback. Lately, I've been telling myself: "Follow your conscience. Love who you are."

One of the keys to happiness, I believe, is to accept everything in life as your guru, be it big or small. Frequent grumbling will only make you feel dreary and weary. Be brave and deal with it. Even if it may not be of your interests, there's always something for you to gain. And of course, losses are unavoidable.

"Loving what you do, and what you do will come to love you," one of my old high school buddies said to me. True. That's what makes life so worth living. 海平浪靜,心平氣和,一切亦順其自然。("The ocean is calm; the mind is peaceful. Everything will be taken care of harmoniously and naturally.") I'm very happy to say that life is a roller-coaster, and I'm benefiting from it endlessly.

I'm thankful for the reminder Ms. LX had given me. Glad that we got to meet up once again since graduation. Remember I told you about us having a New Year's Eve potluck? After the reunion, it's amazed me how we could be so different from what we were five years ago--in terms of our mentality. We girls are learning a lot from one another. What a bless! (Yup, I came from a girls' school.)

For us, we purposedly avoided the gone-wild crowd downtown. We didn't catch the New Year's countdown party with strangers who'd splash water or spray suspicious substance onto you. We spent a peaceful night together eating, talking our way through the morning. ... OK, stop being nostalgic here. LOL!

Anyhow, how would I forget about food! After all, it was a potluck. One of the two dishes I contributed to the table was the classic dessert tarte au citron meringuée, or lemon meringue tart. Having been able to try American lemon meringue pie in the U.S., I've got to say its French counterpart has won a place in my heart. 

Adapted from the legendary pâtisserie and salon de thé Rollet-Pradier in Paris, this recipe is very French in its own right. Unlike normal lemon meringue pie recipes, it calls for whole lemon except for the seeds. Talking about frugality, how can you go wrong with this!

This French lemon tart has an audacious zesty lemon flavor. The refreshing citrus-themed filling is clearly a winner: it's richer, thicker, creamier and smoother. As it travels through your mouth, the flavors burst and mellow--blending harmoniously with the crumbly, buttery, nutty and mildly sweet pâte sucrée crust. Adding the dreamy sweetness of melts-in-your-mouth meringue culminated the gastronomical experience! No kidding! Everyone raved about it at the party! It was the fastest to go! Definitely a keeper!

Tarte au Citron Meringuée (Whole Lemon-Meringue Tart)
Adapted from Rollet-Pradier, in Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan and with reference from Joy of Baking
For one 9-inch/24cm tart 

Note: The meringue was something I threw in. Whether to include it is a matter of preference

1 average-sized lemon (about 130g), rinsed and dried
300g castor sugar
*Reduce the sugar by 20~30g if you don't have too sweet of a tooth

1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
**I used 1 medium-sized egg and 2 egg yolks. So, that gave me 2 egg whites for the meringue

12g cornstarch
115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 partially baked 9-inch/24cm sweet tart shell (recipe here, it's important not to overwork the dough to get that signature crumbliness!)

2 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch of cream of tartar (optional, this is to stabilize the structure of the whipped egg whites)

20g (2 Tbsp) castor sugar
  1. Place the par-baked tart shell onto a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet, then set aside for use later. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F
  2. Slice the lemon into thin wedges, then remove the seeds. Toss it into a blender/food processor together with the sugar, and process till the lemon is completely puréed and blended with the sugar.
  3. Scoop out the sweet lemony mixture into a bowl and whisk in (A) gently to blend well. Next, stir in (B) to incorporate
  4. Pour the filling mixture into the tart shell, then slide the whole deal into the oven to bake at 160C/325F for 20 minutes or till the filling is firm but still a little wobbly in the center
  5. Just 5 minutes before the baking time's up, whip (C) together in a clean, grease-free metal mixing bowl till foamy. Then, gradually stir in the 20g sugar as you whip the egg whites--continue to whip till it's reached stiff-peak stage. Meringue is such fragile thing to work with. So, it has to be used immediately once whipped--don't wait!
    Transfer the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star-tip--careful not to deflate the air in it. You may skip this additional step if you don't have a piping set or aren't particular about presentation.

  6. Once the 20 minutes are up, remove the tart from the oven. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180C/350F to preheat

    While the filling is still hot, pipe or spread the meringue decoratively onto the filling immediately to cover the entire surface, make sure the meringue goes right up the crust.

    This is crucial if you don't want "weeping" meringue! That is, beads of moisture form in between the baked meringue and filling, causing the meringue to shrink or even slip away from the filling. Apply the meringue immediately onto the filling while the filling is still hot. The reason being, as learned in science 101, condensation occurs with the formation of moisture when something hot meets something cool/cold. (Of course, not to the point of sublimating.)

    For those who choose to spread the meringue, just drop dollops of the meringue all over the filling. Using the back of a spoon, gently press down on the meringue to remove extra air pockets and spread it evenly so that the filling is covered entirely with it. Also, make sure the meringue comes right up the crust, leaving no gap in between the filling and crust. This helps to hold the meringue in place. If desired, give it a few swirl for some decorative peaks.

  7. Bake it at 180C/350F for another 15~20 minutes till the meringue has browned nicely--the filling should also be fully cooked by now
    ***If you decide not to have meringue, follow steps 1~4. Then, bake the tart again at 180C/350F for 15~20 minutes or till the filling is bubbly and lightly browned
  8. Remove the tart from the oven. Still keeping the tart in the tart pan, transfer it onto a cooling rack to cool and let rest for at least 20 minutes upon unmolding
  9. Once ummolded, continue to let the tart cool till it's reached room temperature to serve. It's best consumed within the same day. But, you can still keep leftover in the fridge. Just bring it to room temperature again before serving


    Kate at Serendipity said...

    This looks wonderful. I sometimes find this tarte here in Belgium, and I've always wanted a recipe for it. Thanks for posting this!

    homeladychef said...

    Wow, this meringue tart looks so 'atas', i can't bear to eat it! Good job!

    This new year started with lots of rain in KL or SG, should cleanse our souls to start afresh. This time round when I went back, managed to fly some kites as well as go around to have good food in KL. I still love the Fishhead beehoon @ Win Soon Cafe Jalan Kuchai Maju 9, I will go back during CNY again to enjoy good food. Any recommendations in KL?:)

    Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

    You did a beautiful, beautiful job on this one. It looks amazing!!

    maameemoomoo said...

    Ahhh..something which i've been wanting to bake all the time but never got around to do it.. LOL.

    Perhaps this year i will ;)

    Happy New Year dearie!

    Patricia Scarpin said...

    I'm in for all things lemon - make sure my slice is big, OK?? ;)

    There are days when I can't stand my job, but at the same time I feel lucky to even have one while so many people don't.
    Thank you for the wise words, Pei-Lin!

    tracieMoo said...

    I love lemon tarts. The tangy and citrus flavour yet it's sweet for dessert. The The meringue looks so cute sitting right on top. I'm sure you took some effort to pipe them on the tart!

    Quinn said...

    That's a very edible yummilicious, lip smacking, i-want-more-please tart! You've got great piping skills Pei Lin, mine is always sloppy looking.... :(

    Anncoo said...

    This is fabulous! Very nice photography :)

    pigpigscorner said...

    What a beautiful tart! sigh..the commuters suffer when the weather is bad. It started snowing here again and taking the train is just a pain!

    Kitchen Butterfly said...

    Love it soooooooooooooooo much. Love the Meringue. Love the lemon citrus flavours. Love it!

    Ellie said...

    Absolutely beautiful pictures and I love how you pipe the meringue! wonderful piping skill!

    Jo said...

    Hi Pei Lin, Happy New Year and hope you had a great holiday. This tart looks gorgeous and I love the meringue. By the way I do believe your pictures are getting better and better. Great job!

    noobcook said...

    This dessert looks so elegant. I love the "soft" quality of the photo which accentuates its elegance :)

    Maya said...

    Hi Pei Lin:
    This post was making me homesick all over again..and to think that I just returned to NY from KL just over a month ago :) LOvely tart and I am glad I stumbled on your site :)

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Kate at Serendipity: Hello! Thanks for visiting this little place! You're living in the Flemish part of Belgium, right? Probably then ... The tart is French and so, it may not be as common as it is in southern Belgium. (My boss is Flemish-Belgian residing in Malaysia, and yet I can never get to learn something about his culture ... due to professionalism. Bah ... But, I do get to try some French and nice Belgian specialties once in a while ... Hehehe ...) Thanks for coming! I'm going to make my Europe tour a dream come true!! I'm dying to visit there! And, you're more than welcome. I'm happy to share with all of you. =D

    @homeladychef: Thank you so much!! You've made my day! Oh, yea ... The rain does make me feel rejuvenated actually ... It's not all complaint every time. In fact, I like the cool after-rain breeze ... so good! Hahaha ... Sadly, this Malaysian prefers to have things home-made ... I hardly eat out ... Shame, shame ... So not Malaysian ... Must be my training in the U.S., LOL! If you find sneaking and eating at some stalls/restaurants outside, I must've been desperately starved ... to the verge of death! Hahaha ...! However, there's one good restaurant in Cheras as I'm living in the Ampang-Cheras area. It's called Kim Kee (金記). If you want more details, just shoot me a few lines, K? =)

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Ju: Thank you for the kind words!! I feel flattered now ... ^^

    @maameemoomoo: Thanks for coming by, dear! Yes, 2010!! Here we come!! Blog about your lemon tart, yea? =)

    @Patricia Scarpin: Yup, sure do!! I'm going to reserve the biggest one for you next time ... Hehehe ... Yea, I'm amazed at myself by how much I've grumbled/complained about my job while not realizing that there are still many out there who are struggling to just get thru a day being jobless ... Sigh ... I'm very lucky! Thanks for the shared wisdom, too!

    @tracieMoo: Yes, I heart the lemony tang pairing with sweetness!! So heavenly! And no ... To be frank, I piped it in a hurry! That was why it looked so sloppy! LOL!

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Quinn: Oh, I'll just take it as compliment then ... But in reality, my piping skills suck! My hands shake as I pipe! LOL!!

    @Anncoo: Thank you! But, I've still got lots to learn as a novice in photography ... You've overestimated me ... Hahaha ...!

    @Pigpigscorner: Thanks for dropping by! Oh, I think getting to live in London and the surrounding area is considered lucky enough ... Where I was in the States, it snowed crazily everyday in the winter! Temperature averaging at -20C!!!! Worst I've had? -33C!! @.@

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Kitchen Butterfly: Thanks for stopping by and dropping a few lines!! Yes, I can never say "no" to a slice of good old lemon tart ... Yumm!

    @Ellie: Thank you for the encouraging words!! I didn't really put my full effort in piping this time around due to bad time management (... was rushing for the party!) Thanks once again, you've made my day! But hey, yours are way, way better than mine! Serious!! Your sago pudding drove me nuts!! The shots made me almost lick the screen!

    @Jo: I love lemon-meringue combo, too! Thanks for the encouragement! Really! But, my photography still needs improvement ... LOL! No money to buy more props ... ='(

    @noobcook: Thank you! I'd have never thought of using "elegant" to describe my lemon tart. LOL! Thanks for the feedback on the photos!! =)

    @Maya: Oh, hey!! How're you? Staying warm in NY? Thanks for the encouragement, really! You've made my day, too! I know ... homesickness drove me up the wall when I was stranded in the freaking cold northern Minnesota for almost three years without getting to go home even once for a visit!! Sigh ... But hey, hasn't that motivated you into whipping up home's faves in your own kitchen? So therapeutic, right? ^^ Very glad I got to find yours, too!!

    Junglefrog said...

    That meringue pie looks so incredibly good! If I wasn't on a diet right now I would make sure instantly!

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    Thanks for the feedback, Simone!! I should be on diet, too, since I'm so fat ... But, this naughty girl isn't! No self-control! LOL! I wish you could've had some ...

    Happy New Year!


    Blessed Homemaker said...

    Great photography skills! Love all your pics!

    yours deliciously said...

    So beautiful. My tummy will just have to continue growling while I enjoy this picture perfect tart..

    Christine said...

    Totally agree with you! The key to happiness is to know how to be satisfied with what you've already got, not complaining what you don't have.
    Your tart looks appealing...Lemon tarts are my favourite!

    Chow and Chatter said...

    wow Pei Lin this is wonderful, great job keep your head up we love you how you are

    hugs Rebecca

    Keren said...

    It looks very pretty and oh so delicious. I think I might just have to try to make it. :)

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Blessed Homemaker: Thank you for coming here! I really appreciate the encouragement you've given!! Thank you!

    @yours deliciously: LOL, sorry about that! Oh, well ... Not really picture-perfect ... I think I could've done better than this ...

    @Christine: Thanks for the shared wisdom ... I'll remember this ... Thanks!!

    @Rebecca: This is so touching ... Thank you for the kind words and encouragement!! I really appreciate it! Each word matters! I'll try to outdo myself as life moves on ... hopefully ... LOL!

    @Keren: Thanks, my dear!! I miss you all folks in Bemidji! I do think about the snow and freezing temperature there ... But, well ... I don't really want those again, LOL! What makes it so nostalgic is the friendships I've gotten in the States!! I miss you all dearly!! Oh, yea ... Maybe you should make lemon meringue pie again the American way ... Because your nephews love it so much!! =D

    Chef Shari said...

    I can not wait to try this tart! I have a huge lemon that is ready to be picked, now I have a wonderful recipe to try although I am sure my meringue will not look as wonderful as yours. I love you site, your pictures are incredible. Thanks so much for visiting The Saucy Gourmet, I look forward to sharing with you!

    Food For Tots said...

    I like your friend's 金玉良言。 It's very close to my heart. Your tart looks awesome! So do the outdoor shots.

    Swee San said...

    pretty! as much as i like eating them, i don't like making them hahaha

    qinyi said...

    Nice! did you encounter any difficulties in making the meringue since it's always so humid in msia? i've tried making meringue back home several years ago, but it never turned out well at all :( it was deflated and uncooked. since then, i've never bothered to make it again cos i know i'll be disappointed.

    zurin said...

    What a beautiful tart!

    yes its been raining heavily but what lovely fotos u have taken of flowers and chili :))) they made me smile :)

    Zen Chef said...

    What a beautiful lemon meringue pie that is. You made me craving for some. Grrr.. Do you deliver? :)

    And I agree when you say French lemon meringue tarts are better than their American counterparts. ;)

    Blessed Homemaker said...

    Actually I do visit your blog but seldom leave a msg ;-)

    petite nyonya said...

    Hi Pei Lin, thanks for dropping by my blog. Glad that I found yours too! You have a really lovely blog. The tart looks superb and the pictures are well shot. I've never made such tarts before. You've inspired me to give it a try someday.

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Chef Shari: Thanks for visiting here, too! Thanks for the encouragement you've given me! Do blog about if you ever get to try this awesome recipe out! Simply loving it! =D

    @Food for Tots: Thanks for the encouragement! Really appreciate it! Yes, it's a bless to have friends who are mature and wise in thinking ... They're my gurus! =)

    @Swee San: Thanks for dropping by! Hehehe ... You must be kidding! You're a pastry chef, gal! I'm nothing compared to you! ^^

    @zurin: Thank you! You've made my day, too! Each word counts! Really!

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Zen Chef: Hello, pal! Thank you for the feedback! Err ... Nope, no delivery service sadly ... Arrgghhh ... Sorry you don't get to try it! =P

    @qinyi: Hello again! (LOL!) I don't think humidity is the cause for failed meringue. My house has meringue whipped up for some other bakes two to three times in average. Deflated meringue can be caused by overfolding. (Well, that's obviously THE reason.) Undercooked meringue can be because of an oven out of order or you indeed did underbake it! Meringue stands in our hot and humid climate! Nothing to do with weather! What I can tell you though is don't underwhip (based on the recipe's instructions), don't overwhip, don't overfold, sufficient quantity of caster sugar used to create support for building up meringue's structure as you whip air into the egg whites, don't leave a trace of fat (including egg yolk, oil, milk) in the egg whites, don't use too much salt as structure stabilizer (I prefer cream of tartar though vinegar and lemon juice work, too), LAST BUT NOT LEAST, bake the meringue at the right temperature depending on what you're making. Hope these help. Let me know if you need more troubleshooting on these matters, yea? Take care & stay warm, buddy!

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    @Blessed Homemaker: LOL!! Thanks for swinging by!! And thanks for the kind words!! You've just made my day! =D

    @Petite Nyonya: You're most definitely welcomed!! Thanks for taking the time to swing by and say "hi!" Do try French tarts, you're not gonna regret it! =D

    mycookinghut said...

    Looks really pretty and yummy!

    Dodol & Mochi said...

    Thank you for dropping by and leaving a few words here, Lee Mei! =D Have a great weekend!

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