Would You Like a Little Slice of Spring?

This winter in Seattle was harsh. It was especially cold and wet, seeming to last forever.

So the appearance of Spring has been a pleasant relief, lifting the mood and reviving life everywhere.

When the days are sunny, everyone finds an excuse to get out and work on their gardens. The fragrant breeze and the warmth of the sun entice you to stay out until your skin is toast.

What I love most about the start of a new season are the flavors that define them.

I delight in revisiting and discovering recipes that fully embrace the bounty of that particular time of year.

When you think of Spring, what flavor comes to mind?

What do you taste that is bright and says “surprise!” ?

For me, it’s Lemon.

I recently discovered a Lemon Meringue Tart recipe that will become a cherished Spring ritual.

Looking for something different to do last summer, the boys and I went on an adventure into Seattle to visit the Living Computer Museum. Naturally, I did a search of food places nearby and found that Macrina Bakery was just down the street. So, the boys oogled over the computer museum, and I oogled over the lunch choices (and dessert, too!).  While we were there, I hopped on the bandwagon of subscribers for their newsletter, like any foodie would.

In March, I found their “Recipe of the Month” in my inbox soon after receiving an 11 inch tart pan as a gift.  I believe it was heaven-sent and immediately set to making one. The results were phenomenal!

Lemon Meringue Tart with Almond Pastry Crust

Adapted from Macrina Bakery’s “Recipe of the Month” for March, this recipe is a variation of a Lemon Chess Tart. Its rich flavor balances well with the tartness of lemons and a sweet, crisp almond crust. 

Almond Pastry Crust

    • 5 ounces unsalted butter (chilled)
    • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 /4 cup ground almonds
    • Pinch salt
    • 1 large egg
    • 3/4 tsp vanilla paste
    • 2 cups plain flour (plus)
    • 3 tbsp plain flour

    Lemon Tart Filling

      • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
      • 2 tbsp blanched and ground almonds
      • 1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
      • 6 large eggs
      • 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
      • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
      • 1/4 cup whole milk
      • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

      Meringue Topping

        • 4 large egg whites
        • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
        • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
        • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

        Prep the Ingredients

          1. Prepare all of the tart filling ingredients and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while you make the crust.

          Prepare the Tart Crust

            1. Beat the butter in a mixer on low until softened. 

            2. Sift in the powdered sugar, and then add the ground almonds and salt. Mix until fully incorporated. 

            3. Beat in the egg and vanilla paste, followed by the plain flour. Gather into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. 

            4. Flatten into a disk and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. 

            Bake the Crust

              1. Roll out the chilled crust dough to the thickness of a quarter. Place the pastry in the tart pan, pressing into and up the sides, slightly above the edge of the pan. 

              2. Press extra dough into the sides to stabilize them. Remove extra crust from around the pan and bake on a sheet pan for a bonus treat. 

              3. Prick the base with a fork and place in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

              4. Bake in the center of the oven until just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool.

              Create Filling and Bake

                1. Drop the temperature of the oven to 325 degrees. Sift sugar, cornmeal and flour into a large bowl. 

                2. Crack the eggs and beat into the sugar mixture one at a time. Beat in the remaining ingredients, making sure each is thoroughly incorporated before adding another.

                3. Place your baked tart crust on a rimmed baking sheet and set on the oven rack. Pour the filling into the shell, just until it almost reaches the top. 

                4. Slide the sheet into the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the center is set and the surface is golden brown. Check the tart after the first 15 minutes of baking to make sure it is browning evenly. 

                5. Let the tart cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. 

                Preparing the Meringue

                  1. In the bowl of a mixer, whip the egg whites. As you whip, add in the cream of tartar and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. 

                  2. When soft peaks form, add the remaining granulated sugar. Whip until you reach stiff peaks. 

                  3. Remove from mixer and fold in powdered sugar with a rubber spatula. Spread on top of the tart and brown using the broiler setting of your oven. 

                  Alternative Topping:
                  We enjoyed our lemon tart with sweetened whipped cream. Just combine 1 cup of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip until the cream holds its shape. Enjoy!