Summer is here (at least the calendar says it is summer, the weather may not entirely agree) and therefore, it is getting harder to work with tart dough. But I did have some dough in the freezer left over from previous week when I made a chocolate and caramel tart (I will post the recipe shortly) and also had some limes lying around. So I thought why not combine the two and make an easy summer dessert. I also remembered that I had some basil wilting away in the fridge and nothing quite brings out the taste of limes as basil. So here is the completed dessert.
Please do not be put off by the number of steps and ingredients involved in this recipe, the good thing about this recipe is that you can quite comfortably split the making of this tart into a number of stages (depending on your time availability) and stretch over a number of days.
For the shortcut pastry
- 200g flour
- 100g butter (cold)
- 1 egg
- a splash of vanilla essence
- 5g salt
- 5g sugar
- water (only if needed)
For the candied lemon peel
- Peel of 2 lemons (take the peel off with a vegetable peeler)
- 520g sugar
- 200ml corn syrup
For the basil juice
- 20 basil leaves (they do not have to be too pretty)
- 60g water
- 10g sugar
For lime-basil curd
- 220g sugar
- zest of 3 limes
- 4 eggs
- approximately 160g of lime juice (how many limes this is would depend on the limes, it took about 6 limes for me)
- 300g unsalted butter at room temperature
- quantity of made basil juice (recipe included)
For Italian meringue
- 40g water
- 120g sugar
- 2 egg whites
- Start by preparing the basil juice. Boil a kettle of water, place the leaves into a sieve and once the water has boiled blanch the basil leaves.
- In a pan combine water with sugar and boil until the temperature reaches 60c. Immediately take the pan off the heat and put the basil leaves in. Stir and then using a blender, blend the mixture. Push through fine-mesh sieve, put aside and let cool completely.
- Now move on to preparing the candied peel. Using a vegetable peeler carefully remove the zest. Using a sharp small knife cut the peel into small strips.
4. Place the strips into a small pan and bring to boil. Once the water reaches the boiling point remove from the heat immediately and drain. Repeat the process 3 more times. Drain completely on the last go-around.
5. Combine 475ml of water with 400g of sugar and the corn syrup in a pan and add the blanched zest. Once the water boils turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until the zest is translucent.
6. Drain and place the zest on a wire rack to cool slightly. Once the zest has cooled enough to handle, take a plate, spread some sugar on it and cover the zest in sugar. Place back onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
7. Now move on to preparing the tart shell. You can use the recipe and follow the instructions from here. Make sure the tart shell is completely cool before you start pouring the curd into it.
8. And now onto the curd. This is one of the best curds that I have tried, in fact, when I tried it for the first time it took me back to something that I tasted before. Unfortunately, I cannot bring myself to remember where I tasted it, but it definitely brings back the memory of the Florida sunshine. The recipe for this curd is an adapted version of Pierre Herme lemon curd recipe.
9. Place sugar and lime zest into a bowl, using your hands rub them together until the mixture is moist and crumbly.
10. Add eggs, lime juice and basil juice and whisk well.
11. Place the bowl with the mixture over a pot with boiling water (make sure that the bowl does not actually touch the water).
12. Heat the lime mixture while whisking continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove the mixture from heat, cut up butter and add to the mixture. Beat for approximately 10 minutes to let the fat molecules break up. You should end up with a homogeneous curd. Place the curd into the fridge so that it can harden.
13. Once the curd has cooled down completely you can start assembling the tart (you can even leave the curd in the fridge overnight and then use any remaining curd on your breakfast toast). Distribute the curd evenly over a completely cool tart shell. Place in the fridge (for now).
14. Prepare the Italian meringue. This is the same meringue that is used when making macarons (so this is good practice). Before you start working on the meringue make sure you have set out all the ingredients and bowls since you would not have too much time to grab things once you start working on the meringue.
15. In a pan combine water and sugar. In a separate bowl place the egg whites. Bring the water and sugar to a boil and once the temperature of the syrup reaches 115c begin beating the egg whites until the egg whites reach soft peak stage. I do not have pictures for this stage of the process since it was quite difficult to take pictures while beating the egg whites with one hand and taking syrup temperature measurements with the other.
16. When the egg whites have been beating to soft peaks and the sugar syrup temperature reaches 121c remove the syrup and with the mixer running slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites. Without reducing the speed continue beating the egg whites until the cooled down completely.
17. Place the beaten egg whites into a piping bag and pipe whatever designs you want over the tart. I am still working on my design skills therefore only managed those “waves”. Dust the meringue with icing sugar and place under a broiler. Make sure to watch the tart closely as the meringue burns quite easily.
18. Cover the tart with candied peel and enjoy!