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These Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts made their Baker a Star

These Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts made their Baker a Star
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Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Their almond-flavored crust, lemon curd, and marshmallow meringue make a star turn every time you bake them.

Note the “Cover Girl” on Matt and Renato’s first Baking Book

Matt Lewis was an adman who fell in love with baking. And he fell hard. With his partner Renato Poliafito, he turned their hobby into a bakery called “Baked” (359 Van Brunt St. Red Hook Tel 718 222-0345) and a series of baking books. Guess what starred on the cover of the first one?  This unforgettable confection. And when Matt made them on The Martha Stewart Show, they became a bakery best-seller.  Andrew tells us “Don’t be put off by the multiple steps they take to make. You can break it down into 2 days. Make the tart dough and lemon curd on day one. Bake the tarts and make the meringue on day two. You’ll also find that the recipes are quite easy to follow. ” I would like to add that Andrew’s tarts were so extraordinary, they’ll be hard to forget.

Almond liquor amaretto and almonds.

Amaretto is key to both the crust and the meringue.

In Italian, Amaretto means ‘a little bitter’.  That may seem odd with such a sweet liqueur but it gets its name from one particular ingredient: the bitter almond kernel. The stone is only mildly bitter and when sweeteners—sometimes sweet almonds—are added the result is not bitter at all. It’s also quite alcoholic. Generally, Amaretto is 21 to 28 percent alcohol by volume. Both amaretto and the recipe’s amaretti cookies originated in the town of Saranno in Lombardy.

The Legend of Amaretto

Saronno, Santuario della Beata Vergine dei Miracoli, Antipresbiterio: “Sposalizio della Vergine”, affresco di Bernardino Luini, 1525 – 1532. Particolare.

Although food historians are a little dubious, romantics may enjoy this take on the origins of Amaretto.  In 1525, an artist and pupil of Leonardo da Vinci named Bernardino Luini, was commissioned to paint the sanctuary of a Saranno church with frescos. The Church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  Luini needed a model and he found one. The young widow of a Saranno Innkeeper became the face of Madonna.  She may have also been his lover. The woman wanted to give Luini a gift out of thankfulness and affection.  She steeped apricot kernels in brandy and gave her concoction to a grateful Luini.  Pictured at right, a detail from “The Marriage of the Virgin Mary” by Bernardino Luini.


Here are the recipes for each element of today’s recipe. And after them,  links to other “Baked” treats you may enjoy.

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts...Tart Shells

April 17, 2023
: Makes 8 4-inch Tart Shells

These tart shells should be made in advance. They should be refrigerated for 3 hours before baking.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground amaretti cookies
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, softened but still cold
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • • 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
  • Step 1 In a small bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, and ground cookies. Set aside.
  • Step 2 Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Sprinkle over confectioners’ sugar and toss, using your hands, until butter is fully coated. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until butter and sugar are well combined.
  • Step 3 Scrape down sides of the bowl, add egg yolk, and continue beating until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low and slowly add the flour mixture. Beat until well combined.
  • Step 4 Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add heavy cream and amaretto. Beat until well combined. Form dough into a large ball using your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Step 5 Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the dough out onto floured work surface and cut it into 8 pieces. Gently knead each piece of dough into a smooth disc, using a spatula to turn the dough, as it will be sticky. Add more flour to the work surface if necessary. Cover each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough until chilled about 10 minutes.
  • Step 6 Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer each round to a 4-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and gently press into the tart pan. Roll a rolling pin over each tart shell, pressing lightly to trim any excess dough
  • Step 7 Place tart pans on a baking sheet and gently prick the bottom of each tart pan with a fork
  • Step 8 Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Step 9 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake tart shells until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let cook completely.

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts--For the Lemon Curd

April 17, 2023
: Makes enough to fill 8 4-inch Tart Shells

This recipe takes about 30 minutes. It can be made in advance but should be covered with plastic wrap until ready to fill the tarts


  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Step 1 Place lemon juice and zest in a small bowl to soften zest, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 2 Meanwhile, in a nonreactive heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Add lemon juice and zest and continue whisking until just combined.
  • Step 3 Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water. Continuously stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula until the mixture has thickened to a pudding-like texture, about 10 minutes.
  • Step 4 Remove bowl from heat and whisk in butter until melted. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Cover lemon curd with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd to prevent skin from forming.

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts--For the Meringue

April 17, 2023

This glorious meringue tops each tart. It should be made after you have baked the tart shells and filled them with lemon curd. It's the final step in the recipe and takes about 20 minutes to make.


  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon amaretto liqueur
  • Step 1 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together egg whites and sugar until combined.
  • Step 2 Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water
  • Step 3 continue whisking until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture has reached 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Step 4 Return bowl to the electric mixer and beat on high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes more. Add amaretto liqueur and beat until just combined.

Lemon-Almond Meringue Tarts...To Finish the Tarts

April 17, 2023

The Grand Finale. Here's how to assemble the tarts and finish them under the broiler or using a hand-held kitchen torch


  • 8 4-inch Tart Shells
  • Lemon Curd
  • Almond Meringue
  • Step 1 Preheat broiler, if using.
  • Step 2 Remove tart shells from tart pans and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Divide lemon curd evenly between tart shells.
  • Step 3 Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop meringue and place it on top of lemon curd, dividing equally. Spread meringue out toward the edges of each tart. Place tarts under the broiler until the meringue is just browned. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to brown the tops of each tart.
  • Step 4 These are best when served within 24 hours.




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