Words and Photos by Corinne Ognibene
Though it may look intimidating, this recipe is deliciously simple... and simply delicious. It can be frozen months in advance or made just a couple hours before being served. It can also be adapted to create any type of citrus tart one prefers. So without further ado, I bring to you, the key lime meringue tart.
Yields sixteen 2.5” tartlets or one 9” tart
1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
6 Tablespoons (87g) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
4 ounces (112g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 large egg yolks
one 14 ounce can (396g) full-fat sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup (120ml) key lime juice*
zest of 1 lime
optional (instead of meringue): candied lime peel, whipped cream garnish
*key lime juice can be made using equal amounts of fresh lime juice and lemon juice if you can’t find key limes in the store.
4 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
Crush graham crackers to fine crumbs. You can do this by putting them in a food processor or blender to grind them up, or you can put them in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until fully combined. The mixture will resemble coarse sand.
For the 2.5” tartlets: Press a heaping (emphasis on the heaping) tablespoon of the graham cracker mixture down into each tartlet pan. You can also use a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. Make sure the crust is firm and compact. Pre-bake the crusts for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
For the 9” tart: Pour the entire graham cracker mixture in the tart pan. Press into the bottom and up the sides until firmly in place. Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese on high speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. It is important that your cream cheese is at room temperature to ensure smoothness. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg yolks, scraping down the sides as needed. Then beat in the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and zest. Pour the filling evenly into the crust.
Bake until the very center of tart jiggles just slightly. For the 2.5” tartlets, it should take 15-16 minutes and for the 9” tart, around 18-20 minutes. Allow the tart to cool at room temperature on a wire cooling rack until completely cool, and then place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add granulated sugar. Increase speed and whisk until meringue is glossy and forms stiff peaks. Lastly, whisk in vanilla until just combined. Pipe or spread the meringue on top of the tart, making sure it touches the crust all around. Place into a pre-heated broiler or use a kitchen blowtorch to brown the meringue all over.
Store leftover tart in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To make one day in advance, you can prepare the crust ingredients and the filling ingredients separately. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble and bake. You can also bake the tart and store in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving.
Bake and freeze tart for up to 3 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.