How does one re-invent a classic?  Should one re-invent a classic? What’s the point?

From a generation of “de-construction,” I tend to stray away from the idea of re-doing the already done. I push myself and my team to think beyond the known and into the unknown; the creator vs. the interpreter. Though, I think for some, those true classics deserve a new face.

Take the lemon tart. It’s known, it’s simple, it’s over-done.  It traditionally consists of three components: lemon curd, meringue, and tartshell. I wanted to respect the classic but bring it into a new era. Using various vehicles of lemon flavor would do just the trick.

For myself, Meyer lemon marks the beginning of the new year. The “elegant” cousin to the regular lemon, the Meyer lemon has a vast array of flavor profiles. It’s sweeter, it’s floral, and has an almost perfume-like aroma. Pairing this with lemon, orange, vanilla, and blackberry-violet will create our lemon tart.

Lemon ganache sits in a vanilla tart shell with candied orange rind. On top, a light Meyer lemon curd thickened with agar agar is set. Traditionally, the curd is made with high amounts of sugar and fat to stabilize it. Because the bottom layer of ganache is fatty and sweet, I wanted reduce the amount of fat and sugar in the curd to allow a brighter Meyer lemon flavor to come through. Using agar agar as a stabilizer allowed me to do that.

The meringue was the component with which I could be playful. Instead of keeping a super sweet Italian meringue, I went in the direction of a soft-baked meringue. It’s baked quickly at a low temperature, creating a thin shell with soft creamy meringue within. Placing it directly on top was too…typical. Sometimes, I have noticed, to see things differently you must turn them upside down. Spraying the bottom of the merengue with yellow cocoa butter creates a new dimension and modernizes this once traditional tart. Blackberry-infused violet fluid gel garnishes to give a sweet, floral note to pair with the wonderful citrus notes.

So if you’re going to re-invent a classic or even do a classic, do it better than it was before. Create a version of it within your own mind and in your own style. I think within that you can achieve better than what has been done before.  

Soft Baked Meringue

400g fresh egg whites

400g granulated sugar

400g 10x sugar

1g salt


  1.  Make a swiss meringue over a double boiler with egg whites and granulated sugar, bring to 170f while whisking continuously. 
  2. Once at 170f transfer into mixer with a whisk attachment and bring to soft peaks.
  3. Once soft peaks have formed add the 10x and salt and continue to whisk until stiff peaks have formed.
  4. At this point the meringue can be piped or spread onto Silpat for desired shape.
  5. Bake at 280f for 10-12 minutes (time and temperature may vary upon oven)
  6. Store in airtight container for 24 hours.



chris ford