Monday, April 5, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons...

I'm still recovering from what was an overly complicated week filled with stress, unexpected surprises (both good and bad), and a whole gamut of emotions. In the end, all of this change has spurred a fairly significant decision: I have decided to move, and in exactly one week from today, I will be based out of New York. I'm not exactly certain of all the details yet, but things started to fall into place. Unfortunately, the excitement of moving has been overshadowed by two main things, one of them being the fact that saying "goodbye" is extremely difficult, especially when you don't have a lot of time to do it. Between bouts of ranting and/or crying, I kept thinking of the phrase "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," because I have hope that a great deal of good will come from my current circumstance. However, I didn't really want to make lemonade to tell you the truth, and since I was already drowning my sorrows in various sugary food-items, I decided that "When life gives you lemons, make a creamy lemon meringue tart." And so I did. Perhaps this tart didn't solve all my problems, but it was amazingly delicious; tart and creamy, contrasted by a delicate, buttery crust, all topped with a cool, airy meringue. I would take this over lemonade, any day.

*Filling originally based off of Martha Stewart's creamy lemon squares
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. gluten-free baking mix (tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, oat flour, sorghum flour, sweet white rice flour, almond meal)
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice

5 egg whites
1/3 tsp. cream of tartar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-11 inch tart pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. Make the crust: beat butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour and xanthan gum, mix on low until just combined. Press dough into the bottom of prepared tart pan and up sides; prick lightly all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, about 10-15 minutes. Make the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set 18-25 minutes. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator and top with meringue (recipe follows).

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and salt in immaculately clean mixer bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar until very stiff. Spread over tart filling; seal to edge of crust. Make peaks in meringue with the back of a spatula or spoon. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until meringue is golden brown. Let tart cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature (no matter what you do, the meringue will always "bead" with moisture and begin to breakdown once it is subjected to refrigeration).

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