1 ½ cups pecans
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
10 extra-large egg yolks(reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
2 TBSP unsalted butter
10 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown. Coarsely chop your nuts.
With your fingers, butter eight 4 3/8 inch, 1 cup capacity disposable foil tartlet pans.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add flour and salt and combine on low speed until incorporated. Add the nuts and mix on low speed just until they are incorporated. Form the dough into a ball-it will be stickY-and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide into 8 equal portions and press into the prepared pans, making sure it comes up to the top edge of the pans. Dust hands with flour if sticking.
Bake the crust about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes before filling with lemon curd.
To make the curd:
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in the top of a double boiler. Add the butter to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until melted and smooth. Cook about 40 minutes, stirring about every 15 minutes. The curd should be thick, resembling the consistency of loose custard. Transfer to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap onto the surface of the curd. Refrigerate the curd for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
Making the meringue:
Set a large, perfectly clean metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg white and sugar. Heat the egg whites and sugar while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all sugar grains have melted. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the broiler. To assemble the tarts, spoon the chilled lemon curd into the crusts, filling them about three-quarters of the way to the top. Pile the meringue on top of the curd. Style the meringue with your fingers by plucking it to make cool spikes. Use a hand torch to brown the meringue or carefully broil 1 minute.
adapted from the pastry queen