- Course: Dessert
- Total Time: Half Day
- Skill Level: Challenging
- Cost: Splurge
- Favorited: 12 Times
Clovis, a Big Sur local who’s lived here for more than fifty years, brings us amazing Bearss limes from early November until late April. Alt the fruit comes from a lime tree that she planted next to her front door thirty-five years ago in hopes that the scent of the blossoms would remind her of her childhood in southern California. Her interest in limes grew after she traveled to Mexico, where she had fresh lime juice in her margaritas.
Clovis keeps a log of the fruit her tree bears, and the record shows that a few years ago her tree produced 200 pounds in one season. She brought them into the Bakery in a woven basket, 20 pounds at a time, and Michelle bought over 160 pounds. Clovis puts the money she earns from her limes into a jar; over time, her lime tree has paid for her vegetable garden and her flower garden.
Bearss limes are different from the conventional limes you see at the grocery store. They have a yellow rind and green flesh and are a bit smaller than a lemon. They’re exploding with juice and are absolutely delicious. Buy extra, and you can chase your lime tart with a margarita.
For The Shell:
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (recipe follows)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
Graham Cracker Crumbs:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (packed) light or dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For The Lime Filling:
- 1½ cups fresh lime juice (Bearss preferred)
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
For The Meringue Topping:
- 6 egg whites
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lime marmalade (recipe follows)
- Ginger ice cream (recipe follows)
Lime Marmalade (Makes 2½ cups):
- 10 Bearss limes, or 15 conventional limes
- 4 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 cups sugar
Ginger Ice Cream (Makes 6 cups):
- 4 thumb-size pieces fresh ginger
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup honey
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 egg yolks
For the Graham Cracker Crumbs:
Cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and honey in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, Add all the remaining ingredients and continue to mix until the dough comes together. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper until you have a rough ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as three days.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Peel back the top piece of parchment paper, leaving the one on the bottom, and place the dough on a cookie sheet. Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown. Let it cool to room temperature. Break the graham cracker into pieces. Put the pieces into a food processor and pulse until fine. Reserve 2 cups of the crumbs for the graham cracker crust. Store the leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for a later use.
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
To make the shell, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl. Lightly grease with butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Sprinkle the crumbs over the tart pan, and use the bottom of a glass to press them into a crust, making sure that the crust evenly covers the entire bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the graham cracker crust starts to smell toasty. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
While the tart shell cools, start the filling by whisking together all the filling ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour it into the crust and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the filling is set. (You can tell if it’s set by gently touching the center-if it doesn’t stick to your finger, it’s done.) Let the tart cool to room temperature. Then place it in the freezer until the filling is firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. (This step will prevent the filling from overbaking when you place the tart back in the oven to brown the meringue.)
While the tart is chilling, increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
Prepare the meringue: Place the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl (or double boiler). Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar crystals have dissolved (check for sugar granules with your fingers). Remove the bowl from the heat, and whisk the whites with an electric mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment on high speed until medium peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
Remove the tart from the freezer. Spread the meringue over the top of the tart, covering the filling but leaving the edges of the shell uncovered. (You may also pipe the meringue, using a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip.) Place the tart in the oven and bake until the meringue has browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Remove the tart from the pan and transfer it to a platter. To serve, rinse a chef’s knife under hot running water, dry it with a kitchen towel, and cut the tart into slices, wiping the blade clean after each cut. Accompany each slice with a dollop of lime marmalade and a scoop of ginger ice cream.
For the Lime Marmalade:
Take 3 limes and halve them lengthwise. Place the halves, cut side down, on a cutting board and slice them into 1/8-inch-thick half-moons. Cut off both ends of the remaining fruit with a sharp knife. Place the limes on a cutting board, cut-end down, and following the curve of the fruit, shave off the rind from top to bottom with the knife, revealing the flesh of the citrus and leaving absolutely no pith. Cut each lime into quarters and cut away the core. Throw away the cores and the peels. Place the half-moon slices and the fruit segments in a stainless-steel pot, add 2½ cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the rinds of the half-moons are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or a spoon, and place the pieces in a small pot. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Strain, and rinse the ginger under cold water. Place the ginger in a blender, add the lime juice, and blend until the ginger is completely puréed. Add the ginger mixture to the cooked lime and mix to combine. Refrigerate overnight or until very cold.
Add the sugar to the lime mixture and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture registers 219°F. To determine if the marmalade is done, spoon a dollop onto a chilled plate. If it doesn’t spread, it’s ready.
For the Ginger Ice Cream:
Peel the ginger with a vegetable peeler or a spoon, and cut it into slices. Place the slices in a saucepan, add just enough cold water to cover, and bring it to a boil. Strain, and rinse the ginger under cold running water. Combine the ginger and 1 cup of the milk in a blender, and purée until smooth. Combine the ginger mixture with the cream, the remaining 1 cup milk, the honey, and half of the sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it steep for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1 cup sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
Bring the cream mixture back to a boil and temper the hot liquid into the egg yolks by adding it to the yolks a ladle at a time while whisking vigorously. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the ginger, and return the liquid to the pan. Cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Refrigerate until it’s cold. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions.
© 2009 The Big Sur Bakery, LLC
Nutritional information is based on 12 servings.