A few years ago I had what was probably the best French lemon meringue pie ever. After spending the morning driving around the Opal Coast of Nord-Pas-de-Calais, we finally decided on a place to stop for lunch: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. But choosing a restaurant proved to be no easy task. Kirstie wanted crêpes, I wanted seafood, and Hans just wanted to make sure we had a nice table, good food and great wine. After a lot of debate and a few rounds through the town centeer, we finally agreed on a cozy, little crêperie. At first, I wasn’t so sure about our choice, but I was persuaded by the fact that there was a seafood salad on the menu, which turned out to be absolutely delicious. Plump mussels, prawns, cuttlefish, smoked salmon, samphire and a little mound of caviar. Hans chose the carbonade flamande, and because there were no sweet crêpes at that moment (major disappointment), Kirstie settled for the waffles with Nutella. Everyone was happy.
When dessert time rolled around, the waiter told us that we could either choose from the menu or come and have a look inside at some of the pastries they had on offer. And how beautiful they were! Edible works of art created out of chocolate, cream, gleaming fruits and custard! Plus, tartelettes of every kind, truffles and eclairs! How could I possibly choose?
I finally decided on a lemon meringue pie. The best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever had. I knew it was a recipe I had to recreate, and I dare say that the results were pretty close to what my taste buds remembered. The only difference was that my pie wasn’t enjoyed at a fabulous French beach town. But hey, if I close my eyes…
Tartelettes au Citron Meringuée
Makes 4 tartelette-sized pies
For the crust:
- 150g all-purpose flour
- 75g cold butter, cubed
- 2 tbsps raw cane sugar
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
Knead all of the ingredients, either by hand or with the help of a kitchen machine. Form the dough into a fat disk and chill for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3mm, put the tartelette moulds upside down on the dough and cut out a slightly bigger circle around them. Press the dough onto the buttered and floured moulds and prick the whole surface of the dough with a fork.
Line the dough with a small piece of baking paper and weigh that down with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, make the filling…
You will need:
- 90g butter
- juice of two lemons
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 150g caster sugar
Melt the butter together with the lemon juice. Beat the eggs, egg yolk and the sugar. Add the melted butter and lemon very slowly to this mixture, whisking constantly as you go as to avoid curdling. Put the mixture back on the stove and allow it to cook slowly over a moderate heat for about 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently while it cooks. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, it is ready to be poured into the prepared shells.
Cook the lemon pies for approximately ten minutes at 200°C.
To make the meringue you will need:
- 2 egg whites
- 75g icing sugar
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until almost stiff. Add in the rest of the sugar and whisk until the egg whites are firm and satiny. Put this into a piping bag and pipe evenly over the pies. Brown the meringue using a torch or by placing the pies under a hot grill for a minute or two.
Allow the pies to cool and refrigerate before eating.