Most tart doughs don’t have a very distinct flavor of their own, and if they are flavored, it’s usually something to complement the flavor of the tart filling, as is the case when you add lemon zest to the dough for a lemon tart. Otherwise, the tart crust adds texture but its flavor stays very much in the background. The Browned Butter Tart Dough makes a crust that has a great flavor on its own, a flavor that you don’t want to cover up with a too-rich filling. I think it works best for fillings with relatively subtle flavors, like citrus and vanilla.
I made this lime meringue tart specifically to go with the browned butter base. The zesty lime is bright and not too sweet, and its tartness is cut nicely by the rich flavor of the crust. The meringue topping adds a lightness and sweetness that brings everything together. This filling could, of course, be used with any type of tart crust and will work for any 9-inch tart.
The crust should be prebaked and cooled before making the filling. The lime curd is an easy, lower-fat variation on a traditional lemon curd that is made with lots of fresh lime juice. Fresh limes will definitely give you the best flavor here. I used a cooked meringue – egg whites beaten with hot sugar that “cooks” the whites as they whip – because it is more stable than uncooked meringues, and doesn’t need to go under the broiler to set up. I used my kitchen torch to give some color to the top, but that step is completely optional. You should make the lime curd right before making the make the meringue, because the two will seal together better if they both go onto the tart warm. You could also used lightly sweetened whipped cream as a topping for this tart in place of the meringue.
Lime Meringue Tart
1 prebaked 9-inch tart shell
1 1/3 cups lime curd (recipe below)
2 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
Make lime curd and pour into tart crust while still warm.
Place egg whites in a medium bowl and whip, with cream of tartar (if using) until frothy. Cook 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan until sugar is completely melted and begins to boil. Whisking constantly, slowly stream hot sugar into egg whites and beat to soft peaks. Spoon meringue onto warm lime curd and, using a spatula, gently smooth meringue over the curd until it touches the crust.
Brown meringue with kitchen torch, if you have one.
2/3 cup strained, fresh lime juice
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, dissolve sugar into lime juice.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually and slowly pour the lime/sugar syrup into the eggs. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until it just starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Curd can be refrigerated, but should be used warm for the tart above.
Makes 1 1/3 cups.