The Faux Lemon Meringue Tart

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HELLO! Here’s a funny story about me + lemon curd: I usually turn into a hot sweaty mess, working my baby biceps as I stir a hole to China into the bottom of my pot. Roy will pop in to check on me every time I yelp in pain, but between longer and longer intervals as soon as he realizes it’s only because I’ve accidentally splashed a few drops of the hot lemon curd on my arms/neck/face (I told you I stir like a mad man!!). But, probably my most defining moment is when Roy catches me leaning over the sink, in the middle of licking the extra curd off the bottom of a mesh strainer. IT’S JUST SO GOOD OK.

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So with this lemon curd, I’ve made lemon meringue–and a faux lemon meringue at that! I should probably explain… I’ve grown up my entire life seeing this dessert on the dinner table for birthdays and special occasions. My Dad would always refer to it as Lemon Meringue Pie (more on this later). But a more accurate name should be Lemon Whipped Cream Pie. Imagine my confusion when I grew up to realize that meringue was not the same thing as whipped cream… Anyways, the reason behind this (and what caused me a good 3 years of confusion when ordering dessert at restaurants) is simply that my Dad doesn’t like meringue!

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My Dad’s favorite version of lemon meringue is simple. It’s a store-bought Keebler graham cracker crust, jello lemon pudding filling, and whipped cream. But I decided to add a little more love with a homemade graham cracker crust and ooey gooey lemon curd topped with fresh whipped cream. Because is there any way to go wrong with homemade lemon curd??? I think not!

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Dad is a bit of a strange man. He doesn’t like alcohol or care much/at all for cooking. We’re really not even sure he can cook. It’s actually a family joke how my father doesn’t have anything to do with food, aside from eating it. Which also explains why he always called this pie, lemon meringue pie, when it is clearly not made with any meringue whatsoever! He’s never had a favorite sports team, only ever cheering for whichever team is most likely to lose. Go underdogs!! He hates traveling and never acclimates well to new timezones. So thank you for visiting when I graduated from college, Dad! He also falls asleep or gets bored with almost any movie or tv show we watch. Well, except for Lost. He loves Lost.

But there are also sides to my father that are wonderfully unique. For one, he’s brilliant. And I’m not using that in the British context of things. I mean that he’s really smart! My Dad has always helped me with Math homework, well into my Alg 2 Trig (ugh math, don’t remind me) years. On a recent trip to LA, we visited the Griffith Observatory and the docent took my Dad for a scientist based on all his jibber jabbering about space things. And then there’s that time when he did “security work” for the government and wasn’t able to tell us just exactly what he was doing (Steph still thinks he’s a secret agent)…

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My father is also one of the funniest people I know. He’s a super silly giant goof-ball–basically just one big kid! He always reminds me to stay kind and supportive with his constant willingness to help others. I even put him through a few good years with me as an over dramatic and moody teenager, and have never felt anything less than unconditional love from him. He’s the best father I could have ever asked for, and deserves the biggest of celebrations today!!! This one’s for you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day!

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Lemon Meringue Tart

Lemon Curd
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar (I used caster sugar)
6 eggs
4 egg yolks
the zest and juice of 6-8 lemons
1 tsp salt

1. In a bowl, whisk together the room temperature butter and sugar until combined. Add in the eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, juice, and salt. Don’t worry if the mixture separates.
2. Pour the curd mixture into a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium/medium-low heat until the liquid has thickened. This can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Be patient and push through the arm/wrist workout! If the heat is too high and thickens too quickly, the curd may have a grainy texture. Make sure to stir the entire time. You don’t want the curd to turn into scrambled eggs! The curd will be thickened when it can coat the back of a spoon and the curd will hold its shape when you run a finger down the spoon.
3. Transfer the curd to a clean bowl and run it through a mesh strainer to pick up the zest. Let it cool briefly, then cover with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic touches the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Let the curd set in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 packages of Graham Crackers (about 15 full sheets)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat your oven to 300°F.
2. Use a food processor to grind the graham crackers into crumbs. Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin or mallet to crush the crackers inside a plastic baggy.
3. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Add in the melted butter and use a rubber spatula to mix everything together. The consistency should feel like wet sand.
4. Dump the crust mixture into a 9 inch round tart shell. Use your the bottom of a glass or flat measuring cup to pack down the crumbs and spread it out evenly on the bottom of the shell. Make sure to leave some excess crust mixture to press into the sides of the tart shell. I used my fingers and a flat measuring cup to push down simultaneously on the top of the edge and the side.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. I chilled mine in the fridge overnight to the crust could harden slightly.

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp sugar

1. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl. Use a handmixer or standmixer to whip the cream till it reaches soft peaks. Add in the sugar and continue to whip until you reach stiff peak stage.

Assembly
1. Remove the tart base from the shell. Pour the lemon curd into the base. Don’t fill it all the way. You should have some curd leftover. Use a rubber spatula to spread it out evenly.
2. To keep the curd solid, I put the tart in the freezer overnight. I removed it just before serving and let it thaw for a few minutes. Don’t wait too long otherwise the curd will turn runny again! I topped it with the whipped cream and served immediately.

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About Courtney C.

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  • Aha, so it uses whipped cream instead of egg white meringue! Sounds good to me–I would take it either way. I agree, lemon curd is soooo good, I really ought to make it again soon… 🙂

    • Lemon curd is the best!! You can even freeze it too 🙂

  • Aww this is such a sweet post dedicated to your Dad!! You’re lucky to have such a close relationship to him 🙂 Also, I love a whipped topping on my lemon “meringue” pie too! xx

    • Thank you, Katrina! I’m honestly really surprised other people have had lemon “not meringue” this way too!!

  • Such a lovely post that photo is so cute and the tart looks wonderful. I cant get over how vivid yellow the lemon curd is.

    • Thanks, Rebecca!! Using good quality eggs really amos up that golden yellow color 🙂

  • That lemon curd looks super creamy and lemony – I think I’m in love! Totally need a slice right now! 🙂

    • Yes you do, lady!! The lemon curd is amazing with whipped cream but the graham cracker crust is the real mvp here and it’s so easy to do!

  • This looks gorgeous! Love lemon meringue pie – one of the best desserts. Homemade lemon curd is also my favourite! 😀

    • Yes, Jess!!! I could think of a thousand ways to fit it into every meal of the day 🙂

  • Oh my gosh, what a lovely tribute. And I laughed out loud about the meringue mixup because I used to not know what meringue was either!! Honestly I love whipped cream so that whipped cream + homemade lemon curd tart sounds SO good.

    • Thank you, Betty! Now I don’t feel as ridiculous for admitting my meringue/whipped cream confusion now! Hehe 🙂

  • Aww, this was so sweet to read, Courtney! I love reading posts like this; Dads can be so awesome! This lemon tart looks absolutely gorgeous too! I’m with your Dad on this one; I prefer whipped cream on my lemon tart rather than meringue. Maybe it’s because I, too, grew up eating that version (over the real meringue) so I’m just used to that combo and texture. I can imagine this would be addicting, addicting enough to lick the sieve 😉 Absolutely stunning job, Courtney – and happy belated Father’s Day to your papa too! 🙂

    • Aw thank you, Beeta! You’re so sweet. I’m so (happily!) surprised that a lot of you guys can relate to this whole meringue vs. whipped cream business. I seriously thought I was the only one who grew up like this!!

  • Mila Echenique

    hahahah Love, love , love this 😀

  • I love your writing style and your IG! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • That is so cool! I love the idea of a faux lemon meringue. Totally gonna make my own, now! 😉