Filed under: Fruit Based
January 4, 2020

Cara Cara Orange Meringue Tart

This is one bold orange dessert: tangy but sweet, strong in flavor but delicate in texture. The citrus flavor is prominent and has such a fresh quality so that when you have cleaned your plate, you somehow feel refreshed rather than heavy with dessert.

4.67 from 12 votes
Yield: 1 pie
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Meringue Tart with oranges

This is one bold orange dessert: tangy but sweet, strong in flavor but delicate in texture. The citrus flavor is prominent and has such a fresh quality so that when you have cleaned your plate, you somehow feel refreshed rather than heavy with dessert.


My first post for the year is, very seasonally so, an ode to citrus. One citrus in particular: the cara cara orange. If you haven’t heard of them yet, head to your local stores NOW. They look suspiciously like regular navel oranges but there’s a little pink sticker on the cara caras.

Why a Cara Cara Orange Meringue Pie?

The cara caras are somewhere between a navel and a blood orange both in color and taste. Where blood oranges are burgundy colored, and navels are light colored and sweet; cara caras are bright pink and have a tad of almost cranberry tartness to them. Regular oranges are fine but sometimes over-done, blood oranges are pretty in color but hard to find and can be costly: cara caras are my goldilocks citrus.

First, I love me a good curd. Something about tart sweet in a smooth, buttery form is completely addictive. This meringue (like this one) is utterly luscious and has a delightful hint of marmalade. The crust, cookie like in texture and taste, may crumble as you slice it, but you’ll find yourself scooping up every last crumb along with the meringue, which slyly sloops all over the plate, waiting to be licked clean.


orange meringue pie

Substitutions & Ingredients for Cara Cara Meringue Pie

Poppyseeds: These aren’t necessary but they do add a nice subtle crunch to the crust which is holding up two rather soft and creamy parts.

Cara Cara Oranges:If you prefer a tart curd, you may want to swap some of the orange juice with fresh lemon juice. This curd is sweet, like the oranges.

Eggs & butter: This recipe can’t be made eggless or dairy free as both the curd and the meringue depend on the eggs and the crust and the curd on the butter.

How to make Cara Cara Orange Meringue Pie

First, let’s make the Poppy Seed Tart Crust

Use a 8 or 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. This curd layer is quite thin, so if you use a 10″ it will be too thin. Alternatively, in crease the filling by 50% for a thicker curd if using a 10″ pan or if you want a thicker filling.

The crust is made in a food processor, just pulse together all the ingredients until they come together in a ball (or if you pinch it it sticks together). If you don’t have a food processor, use a stand mixer or even your hands, it’ll take a bit longer but it’s doable.

Press in the ingredients into the tart pan, take your time to ensure that you have an even layer and use a the bottom of a measuring cup (floured, so it wont’ stick) to press down and compact it. Use your index finger to press down on the top of the sides so it’s even all around.

We need to par-bake this crust as the curd itself only takes a bit to set and that’s not enough time to fully bake the crust. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on it and fill it halfway with pie weights or dried beans. Then bake it.

orange meringue pie

While the crust par-bakes, make the cara cara orange curd

I have a bad habit of overcooking orange curds  so if this is you too then do it over a double boiler to protect the curd from overcooking (this is when you get those dreaded little white egg bits).

Into a heatproof bowl (or straight into the pot, if you are feeling confident) add the sugar and all the zest. Rub it between your fingers to release the oils. Add the eggs and yolks, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, the bowl shouldn’t touch the water (alternatively, set the pot onto low heat). Cook, whisking frequently until the curd is smooth and thick, covering the back of a spoon (if you are using a thermometer it should register 170 F).

Pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve (especially important if you’ve cooked it directly in the pot) to remove bits. When the crust is done par-baking, pour the curd into it, smooth into an even layer and return it to the oven until the curd is set. Let cool on the counter then set in the fridge to chill.

How do I know when the curd is done baking?

Wearing an oven glove, open the oven and gently shake the pie a bit – if it doesn’t jiggle or only jiggles a bit in the center it’s done.

orange meringue pie

Last, make the Orange Meringue

In a small pot, clip a candy thermometer. Pour in the orange juice and the sugar. Boil the liquid until it reaches 250 F then turn off the heat. Let it cool for just a minute or two in the pan before adding it to the egg whites.

While the sugar is boiling, begin whipping the egg whites. Once they are frothy, you can start pouring in the candied liquid. Do it slowly with the mixer on. Add the vanilla and salt as it’s mixing. Stop when the mixture is fluffy and holds stiff peaks. Dollop onto the chilled pie and return to fridge to set it to chill.

How do I know when the meringue is done whipping?

Stiff peaks means that when you remove the whisk attachment from the mixer, the meringue won’t droop if you turn it upside down. It holds shape.

How long will this cara cara orange meringue pie last?

Without the meringue on top it will last a week. Meringues sometimes seep (or weep) after a few days in the fridge so I’d do the topping the day of or the day before serving.

Can I torch the meringue?

Absolutely. It’ll make for a toasted orange marshmallow flavor. Use a kitchen torch or pop it under the broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it).

Notes on making Cara Cara Orange Meringue Pie

  • The curd layer in this is quite thin, increase the filling recipe by 50% or double it to make a thick layer (adjust bake time accordingly).
  • Due to the butter and yolks in the curd, the natural pink color from the cara caras is lost. This also happens in the meringue because of the egg whites and sugar. For both, I added a dot pink gel food coloring to make it look more like the natural cara cara pinkish hue.

Cara Cara Meringue Tart

orange meringue pie
Yields: 1 pie
4.67 from 12 votes


Poppy Seed Crust

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • cup poppyseeds

Cara Cara Curd

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks reserve whites for meringue
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cara cara orange juice see notes on substitutions above
  • Zest of 2 cara cara oranges
  • 113g or 1 stick unsalted butter softened and cut in bits

Cara Cara Meringue

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • ¼ plus 2 tablespoons cara cara orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


To make the crust

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, blend together all the ingredients until they come together in a ball. If you find it too dry, add some milk and if it’s too wet add some flour.
  • Press into a 8 or 9" tart pan. Lay a sheet of parchment paper over the dough. Add pie weights or dried beans on top and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

To make the Cara Cara Curd

  • In a pot, add all the ingredients. Let it cook on medium-low, whisking frequently. Once it coats the back of a spoon, it is done. Be careful not to let it overheat and boil. Press it through a fine mesh sieve to remove bits. Pour curd into hot crust and bake for an additional 10 minutes to set the curd. Once baked, allow the tart to cool. Place it in fridge to fully set and chill.

To make the meringue

  • In a small saucepan, boil the sugar and orange juice. Clip a candy thermometer to the pot. Meanwhile, begin whipping the egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the sugar reaches 250 F, remove from heat. When egg whites are starting to form soft peaks, pour the sugar mixture in very slowly, with the mixer on. While meringue is whipping, add the salt and vanilla. Continue whipping until you have stiff peaks - when you lift the whisk, the meringue should hold its shape. Add the meringue in dollops over the tart and smooth it over in a shape of your liking. Place the meringue tart in the fridge to set. Serve cold

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 4 stars
    I couldn’t get the meringue to the stiff peak level. I wonder if I needed to let the sugar/oj mixture cool a little first. Loved it anyway. Just looking for advice.

  2. 5 stars
    This was a total stunner!! I reluctantly share you IG, website, recipes with everyone/anyone that will listen to me long enough because they are always unique, classy and timeless. I just made the Moonbow cake this past Sunday – beloved by all. Thank you for sharing your talents. You are deeply appreciated and admired.

  3. 5 stars
    Another absolutely gorgeous creation from Sam. I love love love this tart. I did add more curd because I am a sucker for citrus curd. Adding the little bit of pink to the meringue made this the most beautiful ode to cara cara oranges. I saw them at the store and remembered seeing this recipe—so glad I grabbed them! The textures and flavors here are just perfect. ??

  4. 5 stars
    This is an easy and reliable recipe! I made it for my guest on the weekend. People went for a second piece although my cut for the first piece was quite generous. The portion of crust to curd is perfect. I don’t like it when pies come with either too thin or too thick crust. The flavor of the three layers complement each other without one flavor over taking the other.

  5. 5 stars
    This is the best tart on earth. I’ve made it twice and want to make it at least once more before the grocery stores in CT stop carrying cara caras this season (though it would be lovely with regular oranges too). Cara caras are just so special and other than eating them raw, this is the perfect thing to do with them. I’ve used both a round tart pan and a long rectangular one (I did 1.5x the shortbread crust) and bruleed the meringue with a kitchen torch for high drama. 🙂 Every layer is perfect, and when I served it to my dad, he said it was better than any dessert he’d ever had at a restaurant. It’s magical. Make it and remember to slice it with a hot knife!! Thanks for an unbelievable winner, Sam.

    • Emily, first wowwwww I’m honestly delighted you and your dad loved it soo much! This recipe is a little out there with it’s components so it’s really awesome to know someone enjoyed it that much! Thank you for the kindest comment <3

  6. 4 stars
    I made this dessert for Easter dinner, and the cooking and baking methods came together beautifully. The crust is lovely, a stunner in terms of appearance and texture. I do think that the curd made only with oranges cries out for the balance of tart lemon. Or, I wondered, could citric acid be added to amp up the tartness while preserving the pure orange flavor? Anyway, regarding the methods, I definitely want to repeat this recipe, but I would tweak the flavors next time so that more balance is achieved between the curd and the sweet meringue.

  7. 5 stars
    This tart was nice and light. The crust is amazing, crunchy and really unique. My oranges were on the sweeter side and I should have added some lemon juice to brighten it up, but it was easy to make and delicious.

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe caught my eye because I LOVE citrus and also, it is just incredibly pretty…I mean, look at those colors! The recipe was simple and easy to follow. I love the light and fluffy meringue, the tart is delicious (though I scrambled the eggs on my first try b/c I was not paying enough attention), and that crust is wow – so crunchy and unique and delicious. I made this on a Saturday morning to serve to family guests, everyone loved it, especially that crust!!

  9. 3 stars
    I made this today with blood oranges and found it visually pleasing but the filling was not enough for me so I made an extra recipe of meyer lemon curd to put on top. The pink curd on bottom with a bright yellow on top was so pretty and very fun. I also found the orange curd insufficiently tart for me….I like a contrast in sweetness between the filing and the meringue on top. That could have been due to the sweetness level of the oranges themselves. Overall a really fun idea and I loved being able to riff off of it to make my own version. Thanks for a fun idea!

    • Kristen, as you noted the tartness of the curd depends on your oranges. Some cara caras are sweeter than others. Not sure if you saw, but in the notes I mention that you can use lemon juice to make it more tart.

    • I haven’t tried it but I am guessing they could. The chia seeds absorb more water than poppies (think of how you make chia pudding) but there is less water in the curst for them to do that, so it should be fine. You also need not add any seeds if you prefer to not have them.

  10. 5 stars

    This is so stunning I knew I had to try it. I used clementines with lemon juice as recommended. I also served it as tartlets so everyone had their own personal tart. Thank you for sharing a great recipe!

    • Either an 8 or 9" round. But this sort of dish is amenable to different shapes and sizes as long as you adjust your bake time accordingly.