I prefer tarts to pies (usually) if I have the choice.
I don't know if it's because they seem fancier and more special to me... I like the size and how they seem so neat. I guess they don't seem as messy as pies- they usually cut sharply and are able to keep their shape. Presentation-wise they behave pretty well.
I like this particular tart because the curd is tart! The thin layer has a concentrated lemon-limeyness and the billowy, sweet meringue on top balances it out quite nicely.
If you don't like meringue, are afraid of or unable to eat uncooked egg whites, are wary of using your broiler secondary to fear of incinerating the top of the tart, or are a tad scared of wielding a kitchen torch (which is actually a lot of fun), by all means you may use whipped cream for the top of the tart. No big deal.
Then again, as I said, kitchen torches are a lot of fun to use...
As long as you're not a pyromaniac and generally safe, it's ok. Plus, there is the added bonus of a toasted marshmallow aroma that wafts up to you as you brown the meringue by hand using the torch.
As you can probably see from some of my photos, my tart shell shrunk when I made it this time. That's because I did not have dried beans or pie weights when I cooked it. However, since the crust was pretty much frozen before it was baked, it didn't shrink too much and the sides didn't fall in either (well... they're sturdier because of the a double layer of pastry which didn't hurt in this instance, either).
You can use key limes here- please feel free. However, if you have ever had the bright idea and experience of juicing a million less-than-walnut-sized key limes to obtain the quantity you would need for a recipe of key lime pie (or something of the sort), you may find that you are able to convince yourself that it is not necessary. Ever again.
If using salted butter, omit the salt in the recipe.
The recipe may look slightly daunting, but you don't have to do it all at once. It can be made over several days. Great for a party or if you're having guests for dinner because it's less stress on the day of.
This recipe cones from the March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.
Chilling the finished tart with meringue before serving is very important as it will help to stiffen the meringue so that you can actually cut it and so that it won't slump over after you cut it. When cutting, it's good to have a damp towel on hand to clean the knife between slices.
You will need a 9 inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
Lime Meringue Tart
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c fresh lime juice
3 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 t kosher salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into (roughly) 8 pieces
6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 T sugar
3/4 c flour
1/4 t kosher salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t kosher salt
Whisk eggs, yolks, sugars, juices, and salt in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water (bain marie!). Do not allow bottom of bowl to touch the water.
Whisk constantly until the curd thickens slightly and an instant-read thermometer inserted into curd registers at 140 F for 3 minutes, 5-6 minutes total. Do not allow the curd to boil.
After removing bowl from over water, whisk in butter, one piece at a time. Make sure that butter is incorporated before adding the next piece. Strain curd through a fine sieve set over a small bowl. Press plastic wrap directly over the top of the curd and refrigerate at least overnight. Curd can be made 2 days ahead.
Beat butter, cream cheese, and sugar with an electric mixer in a medium bowl until smooth. Add flour and salt and beat until just blended. Gather dough into ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least an hour.
Can be made a day ahead.
Soften slightly before rolling out.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to approximately 11-12 inch round. Transfer to 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Trim overhand to 1/2 inch and fold over and press so that side of tart crust has a double thickness. Pierce crust all over with a fork. Chill in the freezer 20 minutes.
Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake until crust is set, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and beans and continue baking until crust is golden and cooked through, about 20 minutes longer. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Spread curd evenly over cooled crust and chill while making meringue.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Add sugars, a tablespoon at a time. Make sure sugar is incorporated before adding next tablespoon. Beat until meringue is very thick and glossy, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and kosher salt.
Spoon meringue in dollops over top of the tart. Spread and swirl decoratively with the back of a spoon or a table knife. Using kitchen torch, brown meringue in spots, creating white and golden peaks and valleys. Chill uncovered at least 1 hour before serving.
Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep chilled and remove side of pan before cutting the tart.