Tarte Citron with Passion Fruit Meringue and Strawberry Sorbet ►
This simple, elegant lemon tart is as authentically French as the chef, Patrice Caillot, and he has been making it all his professional life. The combination of tender but crisp tart shell, made from the classic pate sucre or sugar dough, the intense lemon pastry cream and the velvety Italian meringue with passion fruit leaves nothing to be desired. Passion fruit, also called grenadilla, is small and purple and has yellow flesh filled with edible seeds. It is available from November to July. We suggest that you zest two of the lemons before squeezing them for juice. The chef uses the finest aged balsamic vinegar (the Italians don’t call this precious stuff vinegar, simply “balsamico”), which can be quite expensive. He suggests that you take a less expensive balsamic vinegar and reduce it by simmering until it is 1/2 to 1/3 of its original volume.
- Strawberry Sorbet
- Water - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Strawberries - 2 pints, fresh, hulled
- Lemon Juice - 1/2 lemon
- Sauteed Strawberries
- Strawberries - 1 pound, hulled and halved
- Unsalted Butter - 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Sugar - 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Citron Creme Filling
- Unsalted Butter - Two 1/4-pound sticks plus 1 tablespoon
- Lemon Juice - 5-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed, bout 5 lemons
- Lemons Zest - two lemons
- Eggs - 5
- Sugar - 1 cup, divided
- Sugar Dough Tart Shells - 8 3-3/8-inch diameter, prebaked (recipe follows)
- Passion Fruit Meringue - (recipe follows)
- Almonds - Thinly sliced, for garnish
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons, aged
- Sugar Dough Tart Shells
- Cake Flour - 1-1/4 cup, scant
- Bread Flour - 1 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 stick (8 tablespoons)
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Lemon Zest - 1/2 lemon
- Vanilla Bean - 1/2, seeds scraped
- Pinch of salt
- Egg - 1
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Passion Fruit Meringue
- Passion Fruit - One 3-ounce, ripe
- Egg Whites - 4
- Sugar - 1 cup , plus 2 ounces of water
- Sugar - 2-1/2 tablespoons
To make the sorbet: Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside; let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. The syrup should be chilled when used.
Puree the chilled syrup, strawberries, and lemon juice until smooth. Put in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Bake tart shells and set aside.
To make the sauteed strawberries: Put the strawberries, butter, and sugar in a medium non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil slowly, stirring to blend as the butter and sugar melt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. If not using within 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator; warm over low heat just before using.
To make the citron creme filling: Place the butter, lemon juice, and zest and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a heavy gauge non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to barely simmer. Combine the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of a mixer and whip well until sugar is dissolved and eggs are fluffy and lemon-colored. Do not under-whip. Temper the egg mixture by pouring one half of the hot juice mixture into the eggs, whipping constantly to prevent curdling. When eggs are tempered, add them to the remaining juice in the saucepan and, whisking constantly, return to a boil until the citron creme is thickened. Remove from the heat.
To serve: Immediately fill each tart shell with about 1/2 cup of the citron creme. Refrigerate tarts until the Passion Fruit Meringue is ready to pipe. When meringue is ready, remove tarts from the refrigerator, and, using a pastry tube, pipe the meringue onto the tarts in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle tops with thinly slice almonds. Place piped tarts in a 420 F oven until meringue is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place each tart on an individual dessert plate and garnish with sweet sauteed strawberries and a small scoop of strawberry sorbet.
Sugar Dough Tart Shells
Put the flours, butter, 1/3 cup of sugar, lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds and salt into the bowl of a mixer and mix until the texture is like fine sand. Separately whisk egg and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until fluffy and lemon-colored. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl and mix only until incorporated and the dough is smooth. Do not over mix.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Roll the dough in a rectangle between 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough in circles to fit the desired tart mold size. Ease the dough circles into the tart mold and trim off top level with the mold. Place the dough-filled molds on a baking tray in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes. If using tart rings with no bottom, line baking tray with parchment or waxed paper. Bake at 350 F until tart shells are golden
brown, about 10- to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on tray for 10 minutes. Carefully release tarts from molds and set tart shells on a parchment- or waxed paper-lined baking tray.
Passion Fruit Meringue
Cut passion fruit in half and spoon out the insides. Set aside. Place the egg whites in a mixer bowl and whisk on low speed. Meanwhile cook the cup of sugar and 2 ounces of water to the soft ball stage, or 240 F. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test readiness by dropping from a spoon into a cup or water. The sugar should feel like a soft ball between your fingers.) When the sugar is nearing the soft ball stage, increase the speed on the egg whites to high and add the remaining 2-1/2 tablespoons of sugar. When the cooked sugar has reached the softball stage, decrease the mixer
speed to low and slowly pour the cooked sugar into the bowl, continuing to whisk on low speed until the side of the bowl feels warm. Add the passion fruit pulp and seeds to the meringue and whisk until incorporated.