Tarte au Citron Meringuée

If you want to make a tart that’s will knock your socks off, this is that tart! My tarte au citron meringuée is a classic tart. However, this is no average recipe. The difference between an average tarte citron and a memorable tart is in the little details. Read below so you can make the best tart ever.

tarte au citron meringuée with two slicees cut out showing the interior of the lemon curd, crust, and meringue

What’s in Tarte au Citron Meringuée?

Tarte au citron meringuée consists of a pâte sucrée crust (sweet shortcrust pastry), lemon curd, and Italian meringue.

There are a few things I worked on as I created my recipe. First, the crust. The crust can make or break a tart. My crust recipe is slightly sweet, and very tender. It works beautifully with the flavor of the lemon curd.

Second, the trick with any tarte citron meringuée is to balance the lemon curd so it’s neither too sweet nor too tart. I have worked on my lemon curd recipe for several years, and this is one of my favorite versions.

Finally, the meringue has to be just right. I don’t like French meringue for tarts or pies. The texture is more foamy in nature, and it’s raw unless baked. I chose to use my favorite Italian meringue for this recipe, which has a much creamier texture. The flavor is better (in my opinion) than French meringue, and it melds and blends with the flavor of the lemon curd like a dream.

Ingredients for This Recipe

Pâte Sucrée

ingredient bowls with egg, cake flour, all-purpose flour, unsalted butter, powdered sugar, and kosher salt for pate sucree

Unsalted butter: Always use unsalted butter for baking because this allows you to control the salt in the recipe. Bring the butter to room temperature (65 F) so that it’s easy to cream and mix into the tart dough.

Powdered Sugar: Also known as icing sugar, this powdery soft sugar blends in beautifully and helps create a tender crust.

Egg: This recipe calls for 25 grams of egg. If you need help learning how to weigh an egg, learn how in my tarte à la rhubarbe recipe.

All-purpose flour: This is the perfect flour for a tart crust because the protein content (11 – 11.5%) is just right to create a tender texture. You’ll use this flour as the main type of flour, and then cake flour as a secondary ingredient.

Cake (pastry) flour: Cake flour has 7-8% protein and is ideal for my tart crust recipe. However, I know this flour is difficult to find. You can use pastry flour instead if you can’t find cake. The addition of cake or pastry flour helps to keep the crust light and tender.

Kosher salt: Most of my recipes call for Morton’s kosher salt. I prefer this kind of salt over table salt for most desserts. While the salt crystals are coarse and larger than table salt, they are more delicate and break down easily when mixed into a dessert. In addition, you cannot substitute table salt in place of kosher salt at a 1:1 ratio because table salt has a different density than kosher salt.

Lemon Curd

ingredients in bowls for lemon curd, including lemons, granulated sugar, eggs, and butter

Egg yolks: Egg yolks have two important roles. First, they act as a thickener in lemon curd. Second, the yolks add fat and flavor and help create a smooth texture.

Whole eggs: The addition of whole eggs helps to provide more structure than using egg yolks alone.

Lemon juice: Use freshly squeezed lemon juice, and strain it so no pulp remains. You will have 120 ml of juice after removing the pulp.

Unsalted butter: What would lemon curd be without butter? The butter helps to add fat, flavor, and a silky texture.

Italian Meringue

Ingredients for Italian meringue in bowls, including granulated sugar, egg whites, and water on a white backdrop. The Italian meringue goees on top of the tarte au citron meringuée

Egg whites: Egg whites are an essential part of any meringue recipe (unless it’s vegan of course). Egg whites are what give meringue its characteristic texture and flavor.

Granulated sugar: For Italian meringue, you’ll dissolve the sugar in the water and heat it to create a syrup. I prefer this method because the hot syrup cooks the egg whites as they mix together, creating a stable and safe meringue to eat.

Water: Essential for making the sugar syrup.

How to Make This Tart

Make the Pâtisserie-Style Tart Crust

  1. To make the crust, cream the butter and powdered sugar together in a stand mixer.
  2. Add the egg and mix. Then, add the dry ingredients and combine.
  3. Roll the crust out to 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut out the tart bottom with the tart ring, then use a ruler and pizza cutter or knife to cut long strips of dough that are 3/4″ wide. Line the ring of the tart shell and trim off excess dough. Freeze for an hour.
  5. Bake at 320 F / 165 C for 23 – 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 2-5 minutes, then carefully remove the ring from the tart (don’t burn your hands), and cool before filling.
pate sucree dough on brown parchment paper. This is the dough to make the tart crust for the tarte au citron meringuée
1. Form dough into a disc and place on parchment paper.
hands using a rolling pin to roll out tart crust between two sheets of parchment paper.
2. Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment to 1/8″ thickness.
dough rolling out between two sheets of parchment with a rolling pin sitting on top of dough.
3. Transfer dough to a sheet pan and place in freezer for 20 minutes.
hands pressing a tart ring into the frozen dough to cut out tart circle.
4. Cut out tart bottom with tart ring.
using a pizza cutter to cut strips of dough
5. Cut 3/4″ strips of dough to line the sides of the tart ring.
lining the sides of a tart ring with strip of dough
6. Line the sides of the tart ring with the strips of dough.
a paring knife trimming off the excess dough along the top edge of the tart ring
7. Trim off excess dough along the edge of the tart ring.
Tart formed on a sheet pan and airmat, and ready to freeze before baking for the tarte citron meringuée
8. Place tart dough in freezer for 45-60 minutes.
baked tart shell sitting on an airmat and half sheet pan against a white backdrop
9. Bake tart crust for 23-28 minutes at 350 F/ 175 C.
hands removing tart ring from tart crust for the tarte au citron meringuée
10. Remove the tart ring from the baked tart crust.

Make the Lemon Curd

  1. Whisk the yolks, whole eggs, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium-sized glass bowl. In a medium-sized pot, bring 1-2 inches of water to a simmer and set the glass bowl on top. The bottom of your glass bowl should not touch the water.
  2. Whisk continuously until the curd thickens, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add butter and whisk. Pour directly into the cooled tart shell, and smooth the curd with an offset spatula.
  4. Cool uncovered for 4 hours in the refrigerator.
lemon curd ingredients, including lemon juice, eggs, and sugar in a glass bowl on a white backdrop
1. Combine lemon juice, eggs, yolks, and sugar in a heat-safe glass bowl.
hand using a whisk to whisk lemon curd ingredients together in a glass bowl
2. Whisk ingredients together, and place over a double boiler with simmering water.
thickened lemon curd after cooking
3. Whisk lemon curd ingredients continuously over double boiler until thickened.
butter in lemon curd, ready to be whisked
4. Add butter to hot curd and whisk to combine.
pouring lemon curd into cooled tart shell against to make the tarte au citron meringuée.
5. Pour warm lemon curd into cooled tart shell.
offset spatula spreading lemon curd into a tart shell.
6. Spread lemon curd if needed, and place tart in fridge for 4 hours to cool and set.

Make the Italian Meringue

  1. Place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  2. Add sugar and water to a small pot, and cook on medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 F / 115 C.
  3. While the sugar is cooking, turn the mixer to medium speed and begin whipping the whites.
  4. Pour the hot sugar syrup slowly into the egg whites with the mixer on medium-low. Turn the mixer onto medium speed and whip until stiff peaks form.
  5. Pipe onto tart as desired.
egg whites in a bowl to make Italian meringue
1. Put egg whites in a stand mixer bowl, and begin whipping on speed 4 on a 10 speed mixer.
sugar in a pot with water being pour in to make the Italian meringue
2. Add water and sugar to a small pot, and cook to 240 F.
boiling sugar syrup in a pot on a white backdrop
3. Once sugar syrup comes to 240 F, remove from heat and slowly pour into whipping egg whites.
finishing Italian meringue in a bowl and on a whisk showing stiff peaks. The meringue is ready to pipe onto the tarte au citron meringuée
4. Whip Italian meringue on medium speed until it reaches stiff peaks.

Baking Essentials

piping Italian meringue onto tarte au citron meringuée to finish the tart. Picture shows lemon curd in tart shell with some Italian meringue piped designs.
5. Pipe Italian meringue onto tarte au citron meringuée, and brûlée if desired.

3 Tips for Making the Tart Crust with Ease

I have made a lot of tart crusts, and patisserie-style crusts are my favorite to make. For this tarte au citron meringuée, you can make a fluted tart crust (as seen in my rhubarb tart recipe), but I prefer this more modern crust because it holds up better and longer once filled with curd.

However, I know this type of crust can be more intimidating if you have never made it. So here are 3 tips to help you on your tart-making journey!

1. Freeze the Dough

It is nearly impossible to cut out the tart crust if the dough is at room temperature or refrigerated. Because the tart dough is thin, it loses its shape easily once it’s out of the fridge.

To make the dough easy to work with, freeze it for at least 20 minutes before cutting out the tart bottom. Put the remaining dough back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before cutting the strips.

If the dough is soft, the strips will stretch and become misshapen as you try to form them into the tart ring.

2. Work with a Cold Sheet Pan

To help keep the tart dough cold as you work, keep it on a sheet pan. I typically place the rolled dough (still between the parchment sheets) on a half sheet pan and freeze it.

When the pan comes out of the freezer, the dough stays cold longer, giving you more time to work with the dough strips.

slices of tarte au citron meringuée on white plates with gold forks against a white backdrop

3. Measure the Strips

Place a food-safe ruler lightly on top of the dough, and then cut the strips with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. I prefer to use a pizza cutter because it is easier to use because it cuts quickly and efficiently.

It will be nearly impossible to measure one long strip because the circle’s circumference is 28.26 inches.

Instead, measure the strips so they are 3/4″ wide, and up to 15 inches long. You can piece a few strips together, so don’t stress about only cutting one or two strips of dough to work with.

Once you line the tart ring, trim off the excess dough so the crust edge is flush with the top edge of the tart ring.

Why an Airmat is the Best Baking Mat for Tarts

As I’ve worked on tart recipes over the years, I have tested different baking mats to see what works best when baking tart shells.

I prefer using an airmat for pâtisserie-style tarts. Airmats also work well for cream puffs, eclairs, and other pastries.

Why use this type of baking mat? It helps the tart crust to bake evenly all around.

Silpat, while a popular baking mat, is not preferable for tarts because it causes the bottom of the crust to brown too much.

You can use parchment, but it’s not as optimal as an airmat. Sometimes, parchment can cause the bottom of the tart crust to bake slightly rippled. Parchment will work if you don’t have an airmat, but I highly recommend buying an airmat if you plan to make pâtisserie-style tarts.

slice of tarte au citron meringuee on a white plate with a gold fork on a white backdrop

How to Prevent Lemon Curd from Tasting Metallic

Have you ever made lemon curd with a metallic taste? This happens when reactive metals, such as aluminum, are used.

You might be saying, what does that mean, Camille? Don’t worry, it’s not complicated. If you use a metal bowl, metal whisk, or metal strainer that is plain aluminum (not anodized), the metal will react with the lemon juice and create a disagreeable taste.

I prefer to use a glass bowl, because metal bowls are often the culprit for causing an odd taste. Use stainless steel, anodized aluminum, glass, or a heat-safe ceramic bowl.

How to Decorate Your Tarte au Citron Meringuée

Decorating your tarte au citron meringuée is the best part of making this dessert! You can be creative and design the top as you want.

Here are a few suggestions in case your brain is lacking in creativity (something I can relate to at times).

First, pipe the Italian meringue with an Ateco #866 as shown in my photos. I love this particular tip because it can create big or small French stars on top.

Second, use the back of a spatula to spread and billow the meringue. This is definitely a more whimsical approach, but it always turns out beautifully.

Third, use an Ateco #806 and pipe beautiful kisses on top. This plain tip works well for piping that striking Hershey’s kiss shape.

If you want more inspiration, check out my lemon meringue tartlet designs here.

Best Way to Brulée or Brown the Meringue

I love to test all the possibilities when I make a dessert. Why? Because then I can share that knowledge so you can avoid big mistakes!

I made two of these tarts as I was working so I could test two browning scenarios. First, I browned the meringue on one tarte citron meringuée in the oven.

Here’s what I found. The meringue took a long time to brown (20ish minutes), it was still light in color, and the curd got hot and expanded during the cooking process, causing the crust to crack.

Not so great.

The second option I chose was to use a torch. You can use a small kitchen torch, but I like to use my industrial torch simply because it’s more fun!

The results of the torch method were perfect! As you can see in my photos, the contrast between the brown and white in the meringue is beautiful.

So, I do not recommend browning your tart in the oven because the crust will crack. Use a torch, or you can skip the browning step altogether if you don’t want to brown the meringue. The white meringue is beautiful too.

tarte au citron meringuée before torching the top
1. Meringue before browning.
Tarte au citron meringuée after browning the meringue with a torch
2. Meringue after browning with a torch.

Because the meringue is fully cooked with the addition of the hot sugar syrup, you don’t have to cook it at all. Just keep the tart refrigerated, as the meringue needs to stay in the fridge.

How Much Lemon Juice is in One Lemon?

When you buy lemons to make curd, a common question is how much lemon juice is in one lemon. And there isn’t a set answer because the size of a lemon varies. However, one lemon typically gives you 60 – 90 ml or 1/4-1/3 cup of lemon juice.

A small lemon may only give you less than 60 ml. Likewise, a lemon that isn’t very ripe will typically produce less juice. Just to be safe, buy 3 lemons, and then measure out what you need. If the lemons are really juicy and large, you may only use 1.5 – 2 lemons.

How to Store Your Tarte au Citron Meringuée

After making and assembling your tart, store it covered in the refrigerator for up to a week. This tart is best eaten within 1-3 days while the tart shell is crisp, but it’s still fine to eat for up to a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make tarte au citron meringué ahead?

Yes, you can make this tart up to two days ahead. The crust will stay fresh and crisp for 1-3 days, but I err on the side of no more than 2 days ahead just in case the crust softens a little.

a slice of tarte au citron meringuée on a white plate with a gold fork and remaining tart in the background. The slice of tart shows the side view.

Can you freeze this tart?

Yes, you can freeze this tart once assembled. However, the tart crust will be softer once thawed, so freezing is not ideal.

However, each elements of this tart, including the baked tart crust, the lemon curd, and Italian meringue freeze well. If desired, you can make all of the elements ahead of time and freeze them separately. When you want to assemble the tart, remove the curd, tart shell, and meringue from the freezer, and thaw.

As a side note, whip the thawed Italian meringue in a mixer with a whisk attachment for 2-3 minutes to bring back the fluffy texture.

What are other flavor options?

If you want to add some other flavors to your tart, consider adding fresh strawberries or raspberries. Add the berries on top or slice them and place them on the bottom of the tart crust before adding the curd.

Other delicious flavor to pair with lemon include lime, orange, passionfruit, blueberry, and mango.

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Tarte au Citron Meringuée

a slice of tarte au citron meringuée on a white plate with a gold fork and remaining tart in the background. The slice of tart shows the side view.

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Make this easy and delicious tarte au citron meringuée to impress your guests! Made with Italian meringue, a slightly sweet crust (that’s super easy), and lemon curd, you can’t go wrong with this lemon tart.

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 90 minutes
  • Chill Time/Cool Time: 5 hours
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Tarts
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Units Scale

Pâte Sucrée

  • 113 g unsalted butter, room temp (62-65 F)
  • 60 g powdered sugar (icing sugar)

  • 25 g egg, room temp
  • 135 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g cake flour (substitute AP or pastry flour if you can’t find cake flour)

  • 1/4 tsp Morton’s kosher salt

Lemon Curd

  • 1/4 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 120 ml lemon juice (1/2 c), approx 2-3 large lemons
  • 56 g unsalted butter (4 Tbs), room temp

For the Italian Meringue

  • 100 grams or approx. 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 225 g granulated sugar
  • 55 g water

Instructions

To Make the Pâte Sucrée

  1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium-low in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Add egg and mix until combined.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, and add to mixer in 2 additions. Stop mixing when the ingredients are fully combined.
  4. Place the dough on a 12×16 (half sheet) piece of parchment paper. Then, place another piece of parchment on top and roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness (2 mm). Place the rolled dough on a half-sheet pan and transfer it to the freezer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the dough from the freezer and cut out the 9-inch circle with the tart ring. Transfer the dough and the tart ring to a sheet pan lined with an airmat.
  6. Using a ruler, cut strips of dough that are  3/4″ wide, and line the tart ring. If the dough begins to soften and stretch, return to the freezer for 10 minutes and then continue.
  7. Place formed tart in the freezer for 60 minutes to fully freeze.
  8. Preheat oven to 320 F (160 C).
  9. Bake the tart shell for 23-28 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Allow the tart shell to cool for 5 minutes, remove the tart ring, and cool completely on a cooling rack before filling.

To Make Lemon Curd

  1. Combine the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl and gently stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Fill a medium pot with 1-2 inches of water, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn the temp down to medium or medium-low once the water is simmering.
  3. While the water is coming to a simmer, combine the egg yolks, whole eggs, fresh lemon juice, and granulated sugar in a medium glass bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously. The bottom of the glass bowl should not touch the simmering water.
  5. Whisk the lemon curd until it’s pale and thick. This takes about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in gelatin.
  7. Next, add the butter and whisk until melted and smooth.
  8. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any scrambled egg bits.
  9. Fill the tart shell with warm curd, and spread with an offset spatula.
  10. Transfer the tart to the fridge and chill for 3-4 hours before adding the meringue.

To Make Italian Meringue

  1. Measure the egg whites and pour them into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Don’t turn mixer on yet.
  2. Add the sugar and water to a medium pot and turn the heat to medium. Don’t turn the heat up too high, as this can cause the temperature to rise too rapidly.
  3. Next, turn the stand mixer to speed 4 on a 10-speed mixer, and whip the egg whites while the sugar syrup is cooking.
  4. When the sugar syrup reaches 240 F, remove it from the heat. With the mixer on speed 4 (medium speed), slowly pour the hot syrup into the whipping egg whites.
  5. Pour the sugar syrup into the mixer between the edge of the bowl and the moving whisk. It can be a bit tricky, so pour slowly to keep it from splattering all over the bowl and your face! You can turn the speed down to medium-low if this helps you feel safer while adding the sugar syrup.
  6. Mix on medium speed until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch, and the meringue forms stiff peaks.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  8. Spread or pipe the meringue on top of the tart.
  9. Brown the meringue in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes, or use a kitchen torch to brown it quickly.
  10. Store the tart in the refrigerator until serving. The crust holds up well for 2 days but will start to soften by days 3-4. It will get much softer between days 5-7.
  11. Your tarte au citron meringuée must be eaten within 7 days.

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