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Lime meringue tart
lime meringue tart recipe

I once asked a restaurateur, who owns restaurants in European and in America, what he thought was the main difference between the food in American and the food in Europe. “Everything’s is sweeter,” he replied right away.

I thought about it for a moment, and considering everyone’s got their panties in a knot about all the sweeteners that are dumped into everything from tomato sauce, bottled salad dressings, to supermarket bread, he’s got a point. A lot of stuff that doesn’t need to be sweetened, is. But one thing that we Americans do like is tart citrus desserts. The tangier, the more mouth-puckering, the better.

Backing up his claim, though, we do tend to pile ours up to the moon with whipped cream or sweet meringue. So he does have a point. Although I like a super-tart filling underneath all those billows of fluff. What’s not to like?

lemon meringue tart

The French are famous for their tarte au Citron, but it’s hard to find a tarte that’s very tart. Jacques Genin, who makes a pretty zippy one, is considered one of the best of the lot in Paris. And he uses limes.

Try to find limes that are actually golden-yellow in color when shopping. The dark green limes you see are limes that have been picked unripe then gassed to guard that color. When limes are yellow and ripe, they have a softer flavor, with a hint of citrusy sweetness. Ethnic markets, especially those catering to Asians and Latinos, are great places to look for them. Key Limes, if you can find them, are the classic.

lime lemon tart

Reluctantly I’m the unofficial dessert ambassador around here, and there, so for the Lime Tart I baked up for a recent birthday picnic here in Paris, I chose to add ring of meringue around the perimeter of the tart, which diplomatically pleased everyone.

lime meringue tart

Lime Meringue Tart

Ripe limes will yield a lot more juice than hard, underripe specimens. Like all citrus, when choosing them at the market, heft as many as you can (which in Paris, is normally interdit, although I try to sneak and do it anyways); the heaviest ones have the most juice. And be sure to squeeze limes that are at room temperature, rolling them firmly on the counter beforehand to rupture the juice sacs within to get as much juice out as possible. Lemon-lovers can substitute lemon juice for the lime juice and reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.
  • 8 tablespoons (115g) butter, salted or unsalted, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) freshly-squeezed lime juice, from about 5-6 limes
  • 3/4 cups (150g) sugar
  • zest of two limes, unsprayed (see Note)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 5 tablespoons (75g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • a few drops vanilla extract
  • One recipe, French tart dough, pre-baked, or another favorite tart dough
  • Preheat the oven to 375º (180ºC.)
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the butter, lime juice, sugar, zest, and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolks.
  • When the butter has melted and the mixture is warm, gradually pour some of the warm lime juice mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed eggs back into the saucepan and cook the mixture over low heat.
  • Stir the mixture constantly over low heat, using the whisk, until the filling thickens and begins to resemble soft jelly. Do not let it boil. (For the intrepid, you can do this step in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water instead of over direct heat.)
  • Remove from heat and scrape the filling into the pre-baked tart shell.
  • Bake for 10 minutes.
  • To make the meringue (see Note for alternative method), whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk it as it heats, checking it with an instant-read thermometer.
  • Once it reaches 140F (60C), transfer the bowl to the standing mixer and beat at high speed until cool, scraping down the sides once of the mixer bowl, midway during mixing, and add the vanilla. Whip until the meringue is light and fluffy.
  • Heat the broiler and move the oven rack to the top third of the oven.
  • Scrape the meringue into a pasty bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a ring around the perimeter of the tart. Or spread in a ring around the tart with a spatula.
  • Pop the tart under the broiler, watching carefully, as it will brown quickly. When the top begins to darken, remove the tart from the oven and cool completely before slicing.


Storage: The tart is best eaten the day it’s made. You can refrigerate any leftovers. If you wish to make the lime filling in advance, you can make it and store it in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Notes: If you’d like to make a standard meringue, you can simply whip the whites on high speed to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and the salt, while whipping on high speed, until the meringue is shiny and stiff. Beat in the vanilla, then pipe or spread over the tart.
A few people have inquired what I mean by “unsprayed” when referring to limes, and other citrus fruits. That means that the fruit is either organic, or grown in a manner where the outside hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides. Because you’re using the zest of the fruit, I think it’s a good idea to choose fruits that haven’t been treated in that manner. Depending on where you live, fruit may not be designated ‘organic’, because of the cost of certification, but may be labeled with another term: transitional, unsprayed, pesticide-free, and untreated. When in doubt, ask the produce supplier.
tart for picnic


    • Meg

    Beautiful photos David! And that tart sounds delicious – definitely bookmarking this one! And I love your basket…

    • Loulou

    Nothing worse than an overly sweet Tarte au Citron (or Tarte au Citron Vert)!

    Looks absolutely divine! I’m sure everyone at the picnic loves having you as the unofficial dessert ambassador. They are very lucky indeed.

    • montague

    on my… my mouth is watering…!

    • chaz

    Oh that does look lovely! It also reminds me I have a recipe here for a coconut lime tart that is (hold your hats), Vegan and it’s just amazing, I got to taste it when I sat in on some classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC.

    • TARA

    American desserts are almost always too sweet….and portioned to feed a family instead of a person. Missing French patisseries….

    • pRiyA

    pretty as a picture.

    • Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf

    What a gorgeous tart you made – really, it looks impeccable. The meringue piping, the perfect browning of it . .. and love its mode of transport. I’ll be using that idea for sure – plate in a basket. Much better than strategically attempting to cover it with tin foil or plastic wrap so as not to ruin the presentation!

    • Ciaochowlinda

    I agree that Americans in general seem to like desserts much sweeter than Europeans. Witness all the lavishly frosted layer cakes favored in the U.S. vs. single-layer unfrosted cakes you see in Europe. You couldn’t have made this any more tempting – or perfect – if you’d tried. I’d have eaten a huge piece.

    • krysalia

    I love the regularity and the texture of the meringue, but I must say that just a ring like that is frustrating for me.
    I love la tarte au citron when it’s really tart, but also when it’s fully covered with high, golden-on-top, fluffy meringue. When I take a bite I feel like I’m biting in some clouds, and the tart feeling of the lemon at the end makes me think about sun rays :) .

    • Nancy (nanflan)

    Umm, one of my favorite all-time desserts. I much prefer the meringue on top; unfortunately so many bakeries smother them with masses of whipped cream.

    • Kristin

    That tart is a surprisingly golden colour. I have never seen lime juice that colour in Canada. Beautiful!

    I find the desserts mostly too sweet in France, but then I prefer tart fruit desserts. I even like apple desserts best when they are on the tart side, but when I’ve made them for my French family, they think I’ve accidentally forgotten to add enough sugar.

    • Blondie

    I actually made a lemon tart the other day, using this pastry recipe. The method is a little bizarre, but I have to say, the result was the best pastry I’ve ever made! I’ll definitely be trying it with this yummy-looking filling very soon.
    I make cakes for friends and colleagues a lot, and have always had trouble finding a London Underground-friendly way of transporting them. Now my problem is solved – that basket is perfect! Thanks David!

    • Alejandra

    I love that lime shopping hint! I think i actually discovered the inadvertantly, but now I like having evidence to back up the fact that yellow ones are better.

    And I agree with you that citrus tarts should be tart. I often scrape off the meringue or whipped cream or whatever they load on top. So i like your version with just the bare hint of it. Lovely!

    • parisbreakfast

    Looks divine! I agree with your chef friend-soooooo much sugar in everything..really one should say fructose, corn syrup bla bla. What happened to sugar is a crime.
    Myself, I cannot get enough of Pierre Herme’s tarte au citron with chunks of lemon in it and lemon peel confit=the ultimate in lemonyness (sp)
    It never disappoints. But then I’ve never had any CA Meyer Lemon concoctions…hmmm

    • Geggie

    That meringue is beautiful! I’ve not made a tart before, this may be my maiden voyage!

    • Kristina Johnson

    Lovely tart!

    I’m wondering, is the purpose of heating the egg whites to 140 to kill any bacteria or is there some other reason for this method?

    • Renato Moraes

    Wonderful pictures, especially the meringue ones! Gotta try that. I loved the beautiful yellow color of the filling.
    But if they think American desserts are overly sweet, I can’t imagine what they’d say about Brazilian desserts. Our lime pies, for example, are made with limes and sweetened condensed milk!

    • TheKitchenWitch

    I’m so on board with the super-tart filling! That’s the way it should be, and I can never find one. Thanks for giving me to tools to make my own!

    • caroline

    I think the sweetest desserts I’ve come across are Indian– but at least they come in small proportions.

    I routinely cut the sugar in half, at least. If it’s not being used to balance out something really tart, like citrus, I’ll use 1/4 of the original amount or even less. I think it makes desserts taste better.

    • Peter

    Love this! Also love the basket-where did you get it?

    • Marci

    I just sat down with a wonderful cup of coffee (not a latte) and would love to have a piece of that tart to go with it. Another recipe to mark as a favorite. I’ll be searching for the Key limes today and if I can’t find those I will use the Meyer lemons. Yummy. Thanks for posting this.

    • Sunny

    Don’t feel bad about scraping the meringue off — the Key Lime Pie purists insist that it be served without anything white on top of it….the traditionalists will accept a meringue, the revisionists like whipped cream, but just about everyone agrees that Cool Whip is a travesty.

    Don’t ever accept a green Key Lime Pie, either — as David mentions above, the juice is yellowish — a green Key Lime Pie has had food coloring added to it.

    It’s politically incorrect to make it with the old-timers’ recipe because of uncooked egg yolks — but that’s still the best version in my book.

    • dave

    OK. This in an odd coincidence — or something more mystical, I suppose, if you swing that way. I was having lunch with my friend Melanie at Chez Panisse Cafe yesterday. I was telling her about you and the upcoming gastro-adventure in Paris when dessert arrived. Burnt caramel ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce and chocolate almonds. Oh my god. So incredibly, indescribably fantastic. Melanie and I agreed that what made this melting bowl of wonder so damn good was that it wasn’t too sweet. In any other kitchen, this could easily have been an instant toothache followed by a diabetic coma. But this was just sublime. I wondered aloud if this was a recipe you had developed when you were there. Do you know it? I wished I had my copy of The Perfect Scoop handy to see if it’s in there. Is it? Maybe it’s in CP Desserts.

    • Vijaya Selvaraju

    That tart looks absolutely divine. Love the photography.
    I am all for ripe limes, and you’re right, they’re more easier to come across at Asian grocery stores.

    • Nicole S.

    Wow, I think that’s the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen. I guess I should go buy a tart pan.

    • Diana

    I love your plate in the basket. After seeing the picture of your cake that was smooshed, I understand why the bake goods need a wide berth.. avoiding pedestrians and pushy people on the metro!

    • Sarah

    That looks perfect. I can never pipe or frost anything so well. I don’t have the patience or the skilled artistry to decorate that way. Good thing I am not a big meringue fan, frosting either really. I am the weird lady who likes her cake unfrosted. I love to look at pretty cupcakes, but after I eat one there is almost always a perfect plume of frosting left behind like the cake vanished and left the frosting floating in mid air.

    I can’t wait to try this tart recipe. I love lemons and limes in any and everything. I made a persian lime sorbet last week. I had to squeeze in a the juice of a few key limes so it would be tart enough. It was really refreshing.

    Happy Weekend!

    • Adele

    There’s a bakery in Falaise that does a fantastically tart tarte au citron. It’s one of the best pastries I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately Falaise is a long way to go for a pie…

    • Sara

    Beautiful! I love citrus desserts and can’t wait to try this!

    • ritanyc

    Wow, your pie presentation in the beautiful basket just elevated “potluck” to whole new level!

    • Olga

    I think that it’s not just all the sweeteners, there’s something else going on. If you look at what I like to think of “traditional” American food (e.g. the typical Thanksgiving dinner), you see that most of the ‘savory’ dishes also have a fairly high sugar content: turkey with cranberries, honey-glazed ham, sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows–as if sweet potatoes weren’t too sweet for human consumption anyway — but I digress), the green beans frequently are sweetened a bit… I wonder if this has to do that non-coastal America just did not use to have salt readily available (traditional Native American food is mostly salt-less, and I always think there must be a reason for this), and a lot of the regional cuisine developed there used sugar where the European would have used salt, in order to get the damn food to taste of something. And if you use a lot of sugar, or a lot of salt, then you get used to it, and keep putting it into more and more and more foods.

    I have no idea if this is historically accurate, though. Feel free to correct me…

    And I agree that French tartes au citron are not tart enough. Thanks for saving the world from overly sweet desserts. A worthy cause.

    • Laura Flowers

    Wow David, that tart is perfection.

    I agree with your restaurateur friend. The food here is so sweet we have burnt our sweet taste buds out I feel! I’ve been making jam here recently and have had to reduce the sugar to 1/4 to 1/3 of what these recipes call for. If I were to put all that sugar in, one could no longer taste the fruit.

    I wonder why we need so much sugar in our food?


    • Risamay

    What a dreamy-delicious looking tart. I’ll have to give both your lime and lemon versions a go. And speaking of lemon tarts, I have a tarte au citron story for you. Set in Paris, even ~ The last time I was in your neck of the woods, I was traveling with an American friend, which was nice, but frustrating because I wasn’t really getting to practice a lot of français. Anyway, we were in Ladurée on the Champs and I was rehearsing my order dans ma tête. At the very moment that my turn came and I began my delivery, my friend farked me up with some comment in English, and I ended up requesting une tarte Citroën. Heavy on the straight face, with a large dollop of confiance. The two Ladurée employees helping us looked at each other after the requisite moment of silence and then burst out laughing. They even started interrupting other customers’ orders to repeat for similarly amused coworkers what I’d said. I immediately recognized my erreur and reordered the much smaller and edible lemon version of the tart. Quelle horreur! I felt like such a cad. But the tart, thankfully, sweetened the blow and I was able to laugh about it later. And often.

    • cindy

    i would marry you for this tart alone.

    • Wizzy

    This is just too perfect for words. Almost makes me not want to eat it. I can’t imagine cutting it and ‘spoiling’ the artistry. It’s amazing to me that you took this on a picnic. What was the temperature on that day? The warm weather here would have ‘dissolved’ this into a lovely, sticky, mess in no time. No worries on the limes being organic though. Limes here are not treated and many folks have their own lime tree.

    • Tone Victoria

    Goddamit you’re good, David. Do you btw do individual ‘dots’ or a ‘continuous line’ with the meringue (if you see what I mean)?

    • Susan

    Well..your friend had me pegged, sorta. I want enough sweetening in citrus desserts that I can let it’s flavor come through without feeling the attack of it’s acids. Gads..I hope citrus desserts don’t go through what chocolate or even hot peppers or garlic or any number of featured ingredients has gone; pushing the tart (or bitter, or hot or pungent) whoever puckers least is the winner! Please tell me this is just another experiment with citrus to find it’s best side!

    • Susan

    Oh..and your tarte is gorgeous. The edging’s caramelization looks so perfectly done!

    • david

    Risamay: Welcome to my life! I do stuff like that all the time and they (and I) think it’s pretty funny. That’s a good one…though, will have to remember that one.

    Olga: Am not sure why we’re so into the ‘sweet’ stuff. I give tastes of things to French folks when I’m testing recipes, to get their opinions, and their taste is much more subtle. Most of them have no idea why we put so much cinnamon in things as well.

    Laura: It’s funny, because when I lived in the states, I rarely bought things like store-bough bread, salad dressings, tomato sauce, and the like. Everyone’s always freaking out about how much corn syrup they’re eating. But since I don’t eat that stuff (not because I’m a snob, but because most of it is expensive and doesn’t taste good..and is unhealthy) I wasn’t too familiar with how sugary it all was.

    • Aparna

    I’m afraid I have to agree with that restaurateur. I do find that when I use American recipes for cookies, cakes, or anything sweet they do tend to be very, very sweet.
    But yes, this tart is one dish where the tart does balance out the sweet.

    • Alfie

    That is a beautiful tart. The lovely, singed Italian meringue just brings color and appeal to your tart. Another good thing is that your recipe doesn’t have condensed milk in it. I agree…most American desserts are too sweet. My mentor and instructor, Chef Eddy Van Damme, had a hard time convincing the American palate that sweet isn’t always better.

    Anyhoo, keep up the good work.

    A bientôt.

    • Donna Adams

    Bonjour David,

    Thank your for your lovely recipe for the Lime Meringue Tart, I can’t wait to make it next week. I have a Beautiful Lime Tree, two Meyer Lemon Trees and one Orange Tree all in pot’s on my sunny deck in Tiburon CA. and they are so Juicy….like your recipes!

    Merci beaucoup!

    • Lyla

    Any way to bake the curd without the shell? I’m off gluten but the lime and meringue both sound so good! Thanks.

    • Ben

    It’s not just the Europeans who say American food is too sweet; I’m always being told by Japanese people that it’s too sweet, too.

    I don’t agree (perhaps because i’m an american), though i do think there are times when prepared food is too sweet. The main thing that comes to mind is the icing on some store-made cakes–it’s just whipped sugar!

    Our sweet-toothes are probably based on our ease of access to, and therefore use of, sugar. A Jamaican acquaintance had told me she missed eating sugar cane. I never ate sugar cane before, so i can’t judge it’s sweetness, but it sounds sweet, right? A lot of sugar cane is produced in that part of the world, so i would imagine it’s easier and cheaper to get. America is pretty close, so it’s easy for us to get it too, even in the old days.

    Also, i wonder if perhaps the difference isn’t sweetness so much as the strength of the flavor. It might just be me, but i prefer really strong flavor. In Japan, a lot of the food seems fairly bland to me–nothing too sweet, too spicy, too anything. It’s good food, but i have to make something to wake up my taste buds now and then. Do europeans (or at least the french) prefer subtle and complex flavors over a single dominating flavor?

    • shuna fish lydon

    this reminds me of the tarte au citron we had in that little cafe… the owner apologised for it being ‘wrong,’ after we exclaimed how much we loved it. he said, “I am so sorry– one of our chefs forgot most of the sugar.” !

    I think I will go to work today and make grapefruit curd. Thanks for the push.

    • Maryann

    Mmmm that tart au Citron looks absolutely divine. And the meringue gives it such a beautiful touch, very appropriate for any special occasion.

    I am an avid lover while my husband, who is from El Paso TX loves anything lime. I recently made lime curd instead of my beloved lemon curd and I was very pleasantly surprised. It was a delicious! So I think I will definitely make this for him as a surprise one day for when he comes home from work. Mmmm and with the recipe you posted for French pastry dough. I am ashamed to admit the first time I made that, I ate just the baked dough, no filling or anything. It was so buttery and flaky before I knew it half of it was gone!

    And since I started making all my own breads, sauces, even tried making my own condiments like ketchup and mustard and mayo, I feel better, more naturally energized. I guess my “hippie” ways, as my husband likes to call me, are good for some things!

    • Kerstin

    Thank you for a very “miam miam” recipe cannot wait to try it.
    My question is about the amount of sugar used. How much is really needed for the
    mixture to thicken (I presume it is the role of the sugar) – can one take away half the amount or even more?
    I want as little sugar as possible.

    • Rachelino

    David- have you ever done a side by side comparison of persian vs. key limes? I like key limes better for key lime pie (and would love this tart, bien sur!) but I read in the Pie and Pastry Bible that persian was deemed tastier for pie/tart filling in a blind taste test. Could you possibly talk about why you prefer key limes? I am just curious and have never tasted side-by-side. The only explanation I have for my preference is that the key lime flavor seems mellower, more complex, and slightly less astringent, but maybe that’s from tasting the gassed persian limes, or just being dazzled by the novelty/rarity of something tropical.

    • manon

    For Ben who asked about Europeans and sugar in the food..
    In France sugar is used as a kind of spice, i.e. its role is to enhance the taste and quality of the ingredients and the same goes for salt, pepper etc
    If ingredients are not first class class but cheap stuff it is necessary to hide the misery of it with sugar (sweeteners and worst of all, fructose) as is done with the ready made products on the shelves of your supermarkets.
    Sugar cravings is a signal to take seriously.
    You will rid yourself of this lack of balance in excluding sugar and starches in your diet (no bread for instance for a while) and replace with butter and other kinds of animal fat,olive oil (no other kind of oil). In a few days only the cravings are gone and you are a new person. Above all: never put your health in the hands of the food industry. Do your own cooking. Always have total control of what is on your plate.
    In France the battle between food industry and the small producer is not a small thing. In Paris for instance half of the 1200 small bakeries are forced to keep open during August (holiday month) so as not to leave the Parisians without bread (a law from l790!) which today means that no Parisian should have to resort to the bread sold in the supermarkets. That is France for you.

    • david

    LouLou: I made another one last night for a picnic, fully-covered with meringue, and people attacked it like there was no tomorrow. But a few people were surprised that it was lime, not lemon, which is the norm.

    Rachelino: I think it’s hard to say one variety is better, since if you use ripe Persian limes (yellow) the taste will be different than the unripe, green ones. We used to get true Key Limes from someone in San Diego who had a tree. Most were the size of large marbles and while they were incredibly delicious, so few people can get true Key Limes, it’d be hard to recommend that people use them.

    Kersten: You probably could dial it back. Let us know if you do, and how it turns out.

    Maryann: It is fun to make your own condiments. While the store-bought ones are easy to obtain, it’s kind of cool. I’ve always wanted to make my own mustard, but I don’t know if I could improve on good mustard from Dijon that I buy.

    Lyla: You could spread it on a gluten-free base (like a thin rice cake) and cover it with some (or all) meringue and broil it off. (You also might want to check out Shauna’s gluten-free pie crust.)

    Alfie: What was interesting is when I attended some professional pastry classes in France a few months back, most of my classmates were American chocolatiers and they all felt the fruit bases and things like that were too sweet. I asked the chef if some lemon juice could be added to balance the flavor (ie: cut down the sweetness) and he said “No, because that would change the flavor.” Which was kind of the point, but I’ve kind of learned not to argue with some of the logic around here.

    manon: Yes, it’s great that very good bread is so easily available. (People ask me all the time if I make my own bread, and I always say, “Why?”…although I do wonder about the popularity of those bread machines in France….) But it’s great that the bakeries and small food business continue to exist and thrive.

    Ben: My unofficial generalization is that we Americans like strong, spicy flavors, and the French seem to prefer more neutral, subtle ones. French folks are always blown away by the tablespoons of cinnamon we put in thing like crisps and pies. They do like it, but not in the same quantities. Hot spices are similar. but when you use less of those things, the other flavors come through, so it’s an interesting balance for me cooking here. I’ve always been an ‘ingredient-based’ cook.

    That said, they tend to eat things in smaller quantities, so for example, I don’t know many French people who would down a giant bowl of mediocre ice cream. Instead they would have one (or two) modest scoops of good ice cream. Once again, that’s a generalization and a lot of Americans eat that way (and not all French people do), but everyone sure loves this lime tart!

    • krysalia

    daveed said> ..although I do wonder about the popularity of those bread machines in France….

    I think this is really different for families in la province :D . In paris or in towns, one single or a couple, maybe with one child can go to the bakery every day and get fresh, croustillante baguette. When the family has to drive 1or 2km or more to get the first bakery, you can’t go every day and the bread is fresh only the first day (some bakeries are closer but sometimes they are not cheap… at all). the second choice is to buy industrial bread every saturday in the supermarket, but it’s not good… at all. Third point : when you have several children and the family eats one or two regular sized white bread per day, buying the bread in the bakery is really better but quite expensive.

    I think because of this three reasons, and helped by the fact that “francine” flours wanted to market the tool and the special flours with it, la machine à pain made it’s way in the french homes. the bread is said different by those families, but significantly cheaper and it can be fresh each morning by programming the machine every evening. families think this is a gain of time too.

    So,I know a lot of french families who make everyday bread for children, and for bread based meals, with the machine, and who still buy some baguette once or twice a week, pour le plaisir :D.

    however, I know also a lot of people who bought a machine for those reasons and who never succeeded to get some decent bread with it, or if they did, who finally got tired to “prepare” the machine every night. I bet those bread machines will only be fashion for several years. they tend to be replaced by the “no kneading” method, if I heard well the gossip on french food blogs.

    • Sunny

    Key limes have a much higher acid content, and a very different flavor profile from Persian limes. It’s still a lime, no doubt about it — but it’s along the lines of comparing white grapefruit to ruby grapefruit — they’re both grapefruit, but no one is going to confuse the two (even if they were blindfolded).

    You actually MUST have Key limes for the traditional recipe, as it’s the acid in the juice that thickens the filling — if you were to use Persian limes (and I’ve tried this a couple of times) you have to add so much juice that the liquid dilutes the other ingredients so fast that the acid never has a time to make the stuff set up correctly.

    Things like ceviche are better with Key limes, too — the extra acidity quite literally cooks the fish from a visual and texture standpoint…Persian limes just won’t do it without making the fish mushy and unpleasant. (yes, I know that cooking requires heat…but it makes the fish tighten up and become opaquely white..just like if it WERE cooked.)

    • Haley J.

    Gorgeous! And the ring of meringue, the texture highlighted by the gentle browning, makes me want to sink my teeth into a slice.

    • The Gardener’s Eden

    Dear David, I found your blog when I did a search for making ice cream without an ice cream machine. Lately I have been reading some fantastic recipes, (one on Chez Pim and one on Sassy Radish), for ice cream. But I don’t really want another appliance in my tiny kitchen. So first of all, thank you for that. Then, after I found your method of ice cream making sans said machine, I clicked on your home page and found this extraordinary post for lime meringue tart. Oh my, my, my. I do love a lime desert. And maybe because I love the flavor of fresh fruit, I must say I prefer less sugar in my deserts overall. I can not wait to try this recipe. I write a blog for gardeners, and I will be sure to add your delicious link to my roll of great cooking links. Thank you so much.
    Your new fan,

    • The Gardener’s Eden

    Dear David, I found your blog when I did a search for making ice cream without an ice cream machine. Lately I have been reading some fantastic recipes, (one on Chez Pim and one on Sassy Radish), for ice cream. But I don’t really want another appliance in my tiny kitchen. So first of all, thank you for that. Then, after I found your method of ice cream making sans said machine, I clicked on your home page and found this extraordinary post for lime meringue tart. Oh my, my, my. I do love a lime desert. And maybe because I love the flavor of fresh fruit, I must say I prefer less sugar in my deserts overall. I can not wait to try this recipe. I write a blog for gardeners, and I will be sure to add your delicious link to my roll of great cooking links. Thank you so much.
    Your new fan,
    *PS I also love the African baskets. I use mine to hold bulbs while planting and for harvesting fresh produce from my garden. They are lovely.

    • julie

    Oh if only you weren’t gay, I would propose! I live in a hole in the North of England and I’ve just recently subscribed and your wonderful blog lets me believe I’m somewhere else. This evening I’ve spent hours trying to make an authentic as possible beef rendang with coconuty rice and a green mango salad. If only I’d seen your wonderful lime tart thingy earlier today, my evening (alone), would have been complete! XXX Julie

    • cathy

    it’s always interesting what a culture defines as “dessert”

    all my american friends are horrified when they learn that in taiwan, beans, tofu, sweet potato, and taro are commonly used in desserts (or rather, ARE the dessert.). but the taiwanese also have a huge love of western style cakes too, but obviously their versions are not as sweet as american cakes, and even less sweet than european cakes. they also often incorporate a ton of fruit in their cakes.

    and my taiwanese friends are always horrified of practically every american dessert, “too sweet, too rich, too much,” they cry!

    so my goal in life is to make pastries that appeal to 3 tastebuds: the american, european, and asian! funnily enough, i find that the taiwanese pastry culture is closer to europe than europe is to america. of course this goal of mine requires lots of sampling and talking, which i don’t mind at all :)

    • Jamie

    Stunning photos and gorgeous tart. I love limes, so I need to try this recipe soon!

    • Shaun McGowan

    Presentation = 10 out of 10

    • Jam Sanitchat

    holy cow, this looks amazing and I’m not a big dessert person. I didn’t turn into making dessert until I discovered Room for Dessert and just have to say, I trust you COMPLETELY with dessert. For such an amateur in making dessert, everyone raved about all desserts I made from your book. Thank you. This will be one I make next. Fabulous.

    • Kelly-Jane

    Oh my, the picture of the finished tart in the basket… if I ever saw such a thing at a picnic it would make me so happy!

    I read your previous post before this one – are you sure you need a le regime / diet? – you look pretty skinny to me!

    • Suzen

    Hello David,
    I have followed your recipe and the tart is in the oven baking now. I followed your link to the French crust and went to the Asian market for the yellowed limes. Everything went very well. I stood in front of my stove for 30 minutes whisking the lime juice/egg combo for 30 minutes. It would not turn to a soft jelly. I wanted to give up. But I dipped my finger in the mixture to taste and it was out of this world. The smell and taste of that mixture really kept me going. I cranked up the heat one notch and started whisking faster. Then finally it started to turn into a jelly. I can not wait for it to finish. When I get a real oven with a broiler, I hope to make the meringue topping. Now I am using a oven/microwave combo. One of the little things of living in a tiny Paris apartment. Thank you for the recipe! I had really thought it was more complicated to make until I read your recipe.

    • Suzen

    Ok David, I have taken them out of the oven and cut into while it was still hot. I could not wait. The taste was out of this world! So delicious. I don’t think I can buy another tarte au citron here at the bakery again. Thank you so much for this recipe and I will be impressing many people with this lime tart for years to come!

    • David

    Suzen: Glad you liked it, but am wondering why it gook so long to set up. Mine normally takes less than five minutes. If you make it again, I’d be interested in knowing if it sets up faster.

    Gardener’s Eden: The basket is from Morocco, and I got it at my market. I love it, although it’s a bit wide (which means it’s harder to navigate, but things don’t get smushed in there.) The width also makes a very effective weapon against people trying to cut in front of me in line.

    • Nicole

    That tarte looks positively devine. I am definitely going to have to give this recipe a shot.

    • Eli

    here in the UK we have ‘Lemon Meringue pie’ – I alway assumed it was a US import but maybe not!

    Basic sweet pastry case. Lemon filling made with lemon juice, zest, egg yolks and cornflower.

    All topped off with meringue – using the whites left over and sugar.

    Baked quickly in the oven – so the meringue is chewy.

    A cobination of sour lemon filling and very sweet meringue – I adore it but many UK friends don’t!

    • Shauna from Piece of Cake

    Thanks for the great tip about choosing limes–I had no idea!

    I am a citrus freak (just posted about a lemon layer cake today, in fact!), so this is a great recipe to add to my ever-growing pile of bookmarked Lebovitz recipes.

    • Baylah

    I just made this tart, and it was absolutely delicious. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart. One question I have is how do you know when you should stop whipping the meringue? It didn’t take long at all for it to form firm peaks, but when I piped it on the tart, it looked a bit mealy. The taste was great, but I wonder if I over-whipped it. Thanks for all the recipes!

    • Jill O’Connor

    Hi David,

    I am groggy from reading-late into the night, and most of today–your delicious book “The Sweet Life.” Love, love, love it. Very fun, and your personality shines from every page. Congrats!


    • Mary

    The day after you posted this recipe (and I bookmarked it), I found the perfect unsprayed ripe yellowy limes at the farmer’s market on sale for around 20 cents apiece. It was fate. Also, it was delicious. Thanks for posting the recipe, and especially for the tips about picking out produce–I’ve always wondered why limes never seem to have much juice in them.

    • Anna

    I have always found American desserts too sweet! Magnolia cupcakes especially….they taste of nothing but sugar to me. I tend to cut sugar by a third to a half every time that I bake…I guess I have an unsweetened sweet tooth!

    • Terri

    Thanks for the recipe. I have used the French tart crust with great success with all manner of pastry creams, and had been wondering about using it with uncooked fillings like the one above. Would I need to lessen the initial baking time, or should I let the crust brown as usual?

    • Kathy

    A beautiful looking tart David! It looks so damn good. You just inspired me to make one this weekend.

    • Pink Sky

    I noticed how the tarts and pastries I had in Paris were not overly sweet – you could actually taste the ingredients! That made them even better to me. Some of the pastries here in the states are just so loaded with sugar there isn’t much else that gets through. That’s why it’s so nice to make things from scratch using recipes like yours :) Thanks for sharing this tart – it looks fabulous!!! :)

    • Claire

    This is making me weak in the knees! I’m off to get some limes now =)

    • Sandy

    David: Dang – It’s entirely possible that the perfect tarte au citron I’ve been looking for is, in fact, une tarte au citron vert. I’m taking my tart pan with me on vacation, just so you know. Now, if only I had time to buy (and, more importantly, learn how to use) a piping bag…

    • Gabrielle

    While I do adore meringue, and while it does deal with the inescapable leftover egg white debacle. I can’t stop making lime tarts and pies with coconut whip cream on top. It is such a harmonious combination.

    • MS

    WOW! I love chocolate. But this pie is the one thing that’ll convince me that it’s better. Thanks for the recipe.

    • KH

    I made this tart (complete with the very surprising French recipe) and it was fabulous! I rarely find recipes that are truly tart and this one certainly fits the bill. And the crust… OMG! I’m never going to make a cold butter crust again. Thank you!!

    • Anna

    One of the benefits of living in Southern California is having a lime tree just outside in the garden. I totally agree, a slightly yellow lime is far superior in flavor to the unripe limes from the grocery store (kept green to separate them from lemons, I presume).

    • Larry Bauer

    Incroyable! I had friends for a Washington DC summer dinner last evening. Made a tomato mousse with avocado and chilled shrimp followed by jumbo lump crab cake with caper/sweet pickle mayonnaise sauce and a side of white corn salad with red onion and cilantro. The lime tart was the jewel in the crown of this dinner. It went perfectly following the other courses and everyone was fou for the tartness. I am definitely making this one again. Baking the crust was an act of faith but it was superb. Merci David!

    • Lindel

    I made your tart as a surprise for my boyfriend and he absolutely loved it! Thank you for the amazing recipe.

    • Ugur Samsa

    My mouth is watering too. The photos are so beautiful. Thanks.

    • The Teacher Cooks

    The photos are fabulous. I have never made a cooked meringue. I will be trying this. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Bungalow Barbara

    It’s very hard to find good, ripe limes here in southern Wisconsin! Thanks for your tip about the Asian markets — I will see what I can find.

    When we were visiting my mother-in-law in Ajijic, Mexico, we were given a bag of fresh Persian limes. They were yellow almost everywhere and wonderfully tasty. It was quite a revelation. I made them into a lime cheesecake that time. Next time I will try this tart!

    • Melissa

    David- I live in the U.S. Virgin Islands and feel your woes-Ille de France has no idea how lucky it is vs. Ille de St. Croix. The phones are so much worse, I promise.
    I’ve learned how to make do with limited grocery choices (where would I be without the internet and dear friends racing to mail packages for the necessities!)
    On the wonderful side, a friend of mine dropped off a massive bag of spectacular golden key limes- plucked them of the deck looking at the ocean, don’t you know!- and they smell of flowers+citrus+heaven. THANK YOU for having the tart recipe ready and waiting for me. And thank you for the continuing inspiration.

    • Britt

    Thank you for the amazing recipes!

    Is a candy thermometer okay?

    • David

    Britt: Yes, you could, although they are a bit unwieldy to use and you need to be careful not to break the glass bulb.

    • Rosemarie

    I made this tart last night using the recommended french tart dough and it was not only amazing but so simple to make. And the meringue was beautiful on it. A nice compliment to the tart filling.

    • Kara Nash

    I’m having a go at making this, but I had to make almost double the amount of lemon filling. What size tart dish did you use? Mine would be about 25cm across and a good 4cm deep and I’m not sure if it is a proper tart dish, the sides are straight down.
    So far the filling tastes nice, having a hard time not eating it on its own.

    • Millthumpian

    Thank you for this recipe I am going to try it – Here in the Central West of NSW Australia we have the best Tart au Citron maker in the world imho (she is French of course) in pursuit of her quality of lemon tart I tried every lemon tart in Europe when I went travelling there in 2003! There was nothing to beat it! so Tart lovers when next in Australia take the 31/2 hr drive out of Sydney to Bathurst and visit Le gall Patisserie.
    Heaven in a tart case!!!!!!! Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    • Sharon

    Wow tart is amazing! Just had a slice – need to put the rest away before I do anything I’ll regret. The French tart dough is so incredibly easy. I even made a little mistake that is totally unnoticeable – did not temper the eggs enough before pouring into warm curd on stove, and bits of egg white cooked throughout the entire curd. Kind of gross, but I did not mention this to anyone and no questions asked ;) Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Zielor

    @Millthumpian – cannot agree with you more!! Le Gall definitely has THE BEST lemon tart in NSW and it’s Philippe Le Gall who is the patissier. The patisserie offers everything delicious, pates, terrines, pies, brioches, palmiers, creme brulees, choux, croissants… endless options! <3


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