January 28, 2008

Lemon Meringue Tart

January's Daring Baker Challenge

Our January Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Jen of The Canadian Baker blog. She always wanted to try making lemon meringue pie and this was her opportunity for us to all try our hand at this delectable dessert. For those who wanted to try something a little different you could also try making small lemon meringue tarts.

Lemons have been around for centuries and are believed to have been growing in the wild in the areas of India and China. Lemons have been used by people as an antidote for various types of poison, keeping seamen from getting scurvy, and for a wide range of culinary dishes.

Lemons don't tend to get many opportunities to shine at my house, since my husband and I are the only fans of lemon flavored desserts. So, I was delighted to be able to make a dessert that we both enjoy. Lemon meringue pie has had a place of honor on our New Year's holiday menu since we were both children. As traditional Southern New Year's dessert, it would round off my mother's meal of ham, black eyed peas, collard greens and corn bread.

For my holiday menu, I wanted to dress up the lemon meringue tarts a little bit and made them bite sized. Then I used pistachio nut meal in the gluten free tartlet crust to add a bit of flavor, as the basic gluten free flours are some what bland. The chia seed meal was added as a binder to hold the gluten free flours together.

This recipe was easy to make and received rave reviews from my husband. He loved the smaller sized bites were he was able to get a little bit of everything in each bite. My children considered the crust the only part of the dessert worth eating. They made a special request for having tried the lemon thing, they wanted to know if I could make them some chocolate chip cookies. As for me, I was in dessert heaven. Best of all, I have been getting to enjoy the left over lemon filling on toast for breakfast.

Thanks Jen for a great recipe and a wonderful challenge.


Tart Crust

6 Tb cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 Tb + 2 tsp sweet rice flour
1/4 cup pistachio nut meal *
1 tsp chia seed meal **
2 Tb palm sugar ***
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 Tb ice water

Lemon Filling

1 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 Tb butter
6 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tb granulated sugar

Tart Crust

1. Using cold ingredients, in a large bowl pour in the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Work with a pastry cutter or fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle with water and work the dough just until it begins to stick together.

2. Place the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, press out the dough into a large circle.

3. Peel the parchment paper off the top of the dough and then place it back on the dough. Next flip the dough sandwiched in between the sheets of parchment paper upside down. Peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the dough. Using a sharp knife slice the dough into 2 inch by 2 inch squares and place on a parchment covered cookie sheet.

4. Chill the dough squares in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. Just before the dough squares are ready to come out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees C). Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before putting the tartlets together.

Lemon Filling

1. In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, dump in the sugar and cornstarch and stir together. Then slowly add the sugar mixture to the hot water and whisk until it until it is completely incorporated.

3. Return the sauce pan to the stove top and cook on medium heat whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Take 1 cup of the mixture and slowly add it to a bowl containing the beaten egg yolks. Continue to whisk until smooth. Add the warmed egg yolk mixture to the sauce pan and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture returns to the boil.

4. At the first sign of bubbles remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until thoroughly blended. Then dump in the lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla, stirring until incorporated.

5. Scoop some of the mixture into a pastry bag and swirl small amounts onto the center of each tartlet square.


1. Preheat the oven on the broil setting. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

2. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Scoop into a pastry bag and swirl the meringue over the top of each tartlet.

3. Place the pan of tartlets in the oven and with the door slightly open watch the meringue and remove when a pretty browning has colored the tops. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

(Jen's pie recipe was from Wanda's Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver (2002) and her tartlet recipe was from David Lebovitz's, Ripe for Dessert (2003).)

* Pistachio Nut Meal: Take unsalted roasted pistachios and grind them in a food processor or coffee grinder not used for grinding coffee and grind until they form a meal. Grind in small batches and not for too long otherwise you will make pistachio butter.

** Chia Seed Meal: Take whole chia seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder (not used for coffee) or spice mill and grind until a meal is formed. I purchased my chia seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH.

*** Palm Sugar: If your palm sugar came in disks, you will need to use a meat tenderizer or other hard object to break up the sugar into a powder. I purchased my palm sugar at my local Korean market, but you can also find it at Whole Foods in the Asian aisle.


glamah16 said...

The pisatcahio nut meal sounds great!

Carrie said...

you go girl! That's awesome and such beautiful little tarts! I just did my post as well! I can say without hesitation your cute little tarts look MUCH tastier than mine turned out!! Nice job!!

~Amber~ said...

Your free-style tarts are in true DB style. They look awesome!!! Congratulations on a job well done.


None said...

thanks! yours look even better! wooo go baking!!

David T. Macknet said...

I love the square crusts! Beautiful!

desie said...

wow, the pistachio meal sounds great. your dainty little tarts look gorgeous.

Meryl said...

Wow-they're like little pie crust crackers. What a pretty idea for a party!

Gabi said...

Hey Natalie- I rushed over to see your creative take on this recipe. Yum! I am going to try your GF version right away even though I don't eat GF- I think the variety is great to try. Nice job!

Angel said...

Wow your tarts turned out so cute! They look adorable and tasty!
I'm glad you enjoyed the challenge this month. I know I can't wait to see what next months will be.

Lea Ray said...

Those sound delicous. I love anything lemon. I am going to try these. Thanks

Nikki57 said...

I love the look of the square crust!

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

what a fantastic meringue - and gluten-free, no less!! So glad you and your family enjoyed the tasty results from this month's DBC event.

I always gain such inspiration from your blog and baking :0)

T’s Treats said...

I love the look of your tarts!!! they are so artistic and yummy hehe great job!!

Judy said...

I like your idea of bite-sized pielettes. I will be sure to pass your crust recipe along to my 'gluten-free' friend.

Chris said...

I love the square/rectangle idea! How great! I must admit, however. If I saw your tarts, I would have to grab each meringue off the top and eat them first! hee hee. I love meringue and these meringue caps are perfect for the pick-off. :)

Cakelaw said...

Cute tarts! They look great. (And the curd on toast would be wonderful.)

Melanie said...

They are so cute! And what a beautiful meringue on top!

Peabody said...

Very creative...it looks like pie on a cracker...great for a party.

Barbara said...

LOvley and I like how you made them look different from a regular little pie.

Karen Baking Soda said...

Oh free style nibblies! Looks so much fun!

Deborah said...

I love your presentation!! Beautiful!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh yes give me lemon curd on toast in the morning or evening.
Your bites look like lovely and great fun! A little like a tower. Can't figure why kids wouldn't think these were wonderful fun. But then when can you ever figure kids.

linda said...

Very cute 'pielets'. Lemon meringue pie looks good on blue and white plates ;)
Thanks for the crushing info of palm sugar. Have tried it different ways but nothing was satisfactory.

linda said...

Very cute 'pielets'. Lemon meringue pie looks good on blue and white plates ;)
Thanks for the crushing info of palm sugar. Have tried it different ways but nothing was satisfactory.

Renee said...

Square tarts, how chic! Congratulations on your gluten-free success!

Naomi Devlin said...

the pistachio meal sounds great and I'm fascinated by chia seeds. I'm experimenting with brazilnut meal at the moment - those nut meals sure bring something extra to a grain flour don't they?

Good to see other gluten free bakers being daring and innovative.

x x x

BitterSweet said...

How cute, I love how you can see all of the components! The crust sounds absolutely delicious as well... I have a store of chia seeds that I can't seem to find uses for, so I will definitely hang on to this recipe.

Unknown said...

hey what a novel idea! they look quite cool, and good to hear that they tasted just as well :)

Dolores said...

I love your square cracker-like crusts. Congratulations on a gluten-free masterpiece!

Madeleine said...

Wow!! amazing way to make a free-style tarts!!!


michelle said...

I love the square base! So cute!

zorra said...

Very nice free-style LMP tarts, and I love your plate.

kitten said...

extra lemon filling on toast in the morning... brilliant !! i love your freeform little square tarts, very cute !

Sally JPA said...

Those are gorgeous.

What does the base taste like without any lemon topping?

Jen Yu said...

A good-looking success! The little freestyle tarts are awesome :)

Unknown said...

Chia seed meal? Wow, I've never used that (or heard of it for that matter). Think I'll give it a try! This is such a beautiful post - nice job. And I LOVE lemon. Thank you, I'll definitely save this one and try it soon.

Teri S. said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and offering words of encouragement! I'm hoping that I'm only gluten-intolerant and don't have a full-blown allergy or am one of those who are asymptomatic for celiac disease. I'm reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on. The local health food stores in Leesburg have a pretty good variety of GF foods and my office is close to a gigantic Whole Foods. The cost is pretty high though, so I'll be making the foray into GF baking. It's a good thing I like to cook.

Lunch Buckets said...

oooooh, square tarts! show-off ;)

Helene said...

I love what you did with the crusts! Great free form pies! Great idea to add the pistachios in the crust. You rock!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

These look so yummy! Gionna have to try for sure!

Unknown said...

I love these!!! Great job!

Elana said...

These tarts look amazing! I think my lemon loving little boy would gobble them up.

Thanks for sharing this great recipe!


creampuff said...

They look like lemon meringue s'mores! Nice job!

Aoife said...

It's a real testament to your gluten-free talents that your adapted crust was the most popular part of the tartlet! Nice job!