Lemon Cloud Tart

Adapted from Spring. An excellent variation of lemon meringue pie for your next springtime dinner.

Tart Shell:
1½ cups flour
1½ Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1½ Tbsp very cold water
Lemon Filling:
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp grated lemon zest
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup blanched almonds, lightly toasted and finely ground
3 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanillla extract

To prepare tart shell: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt; pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add water as needed to bind the ingredients. Gather into a ball, flatten into a 6" disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake tart shell: Preheat oven to 400°F. Gently press the pastry into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, forming a slightly thicker layer on the sides. Place the shell in the freezer for 30 minutes. Line the pastry with aluminum foil, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil; reduce the temperature to 375°F, and bake until lightly golden, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

To prepare filling: Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until they form a stiff ribbon, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon zest and juice. Add the melted butter and ground almonds. Remove the tart shell from the oven and immediately pour the filling into it. Return to the oven and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool completely.

To prepare meringue: Preheat oven to 450°F. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in the vanilla. Spoon the meringue over the filling, spreading it to the edges of the pastry and forming peaks. Bake until meringue is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Let cool and chill until set, about 1 hour. Serve chilled.

Makes 8 servings

Allergy Warning: Contains milk and wheat