This lemon tart recipe comes from the south of France–Nice, to be specific–which is located by the Mediterranean Sea and by Italy. Perhaps that’s why this little slice of sunshine has a secret ingredient: olive oil.
Not only does the olive oil give this Niçoise tart a lighter kind of crust, almonds help to give it that little je ne sais quoi.
And taking inspiration from my local French pâtisserie (pastry shop), I decided to top off this tart with a thin layer of sweet, toasted meringue. You may not be in the south of France, but that doesn’t mean your taste buds can’t be!
- 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom
- Hand mixer
- Citrus juicer (optional)
- Chef’s torch (optional)
- Pastry cutter
- Food processor or blender
- Zester or grater
- 2 Tbl. almonds with skins, toasted and cooled (I bought roasted skin-on almonds, but to toast: put in shallow baking pan in 350-degree oven for 5-10 min.)
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 stick COLD, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 1/2 Tbl. fruity olive oil (see pic below for the kind I used)
- 4 large lemons
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbl. water
- 2 whole large eggs + 2 large yolks
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 Tbl. fruity olive oil
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/3 cup superfine/caster sugar
- 2 Tbl. confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Put mix into a medium bowl. Add COLD butter and blend with the pastry cutter until mix resembles coarse meal with some small pea-size butter lumps.
Add yolk and oil and mix with hands (in disposable gloves to keep the butter pieces from melting) until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed.
Spread dough evenly over the bottom of the tart pan, making sure edge of crust is about 1/2-inch above the top (it will shrink during baking).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place tart crust in the fridge and chill until firm-about 30 min. Take out and cover with foil. Bake shell 10 min. Remove foil and bake another 3-4 min or until shell is a golden brown color. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 min.
Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 Tbl., then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons.
Place cornstarch in 2 Tbl. water and mix.
Whisk together lemon zest, juice, sugar, cornstarch mix, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking CONSTANTLY. Boil, whisking, 2 min.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth. Pour into the cooled crust and chill, until set, about 2 hours.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add both the sugars, about 1 Tbl. at a time, and beat until meringue is very thick and glossy, about 5 min. Beat in vanilla and salt.
Spread the meringue in a thin layer, about 1-2 inches over the top of the lemon tart. Then, using the torch, brown the meringue, leaving about 1 inch of white border. * If you don’t have a torch, the merignue will still be wonderful 🙂
Place tart in the fridge another 1-2 hours. Serve at room temp. or cold. If it’s going to be in the fridge for a while, like overnight, cover it with a TENTED foil cover (if the cover touches the meringue, the meringue will come off with the cover.