I’ve got a crush. A big one. Let’s discuss…
I met some super-generous and very nice people at a dinner party earlier this month. While we were chatting, we got on the topic of food and my friend mentioned the name of my blog. Long story short, this couple learned that I love lemons, so they asked me to take some Meyer lemons off their tree. Those are my kinda people. Before I knew it, I was walking down the road and into the amazing yard of these people I had just met. I was encouraged to take all that I could, because removing the lemons would allow the tree to set fruit again. Okay. Sure. No problem.
So I’m a bit giddy because finding uses for these precious lemons has been nothing short of a pleasure. I’ve dabbled in sweet and savory dishes thus far, but it’s this latest beauty that has won my heart.
Pull up a chair, and join me while I show you how I have completely sabotaged my fitness regimen…
Aah…butter. You’re going to be seeing a lot of it in this recipe. One stick of it, melted and cooled.
While the butter is cooling, get to work on those lemons. The skin of a Meyer is very thin, so when you zest it make sure you are only getting the outer-most layer and not the bitter pith. I left the stem of the lemon in this shot to remind myself to tell you what I learned. You may already know this, but I didn’t know that leaving some of the stem on will increase the shelf life of citrus. Makes sense.
Into the cooled butter, add vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
Next up, the flour and a brief arm work-out. Now if you’re into baking, you may be thinking that the ingredients thus far are very much the same as those in shortbread. You’re right! The crust of this tart could be eaten alone without the lemon curd, but we’re going all the way this time. And you’re coming with me, because when it’s all done, our tummies and thighs are going to jiggle together in unison. That’s the kind of friend I am. No need to thank me.
Pour the crumbly dough into a fluted 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. No need to grease this pan because it’s non-stick. The recipe says to grease the pan, but I’ve never done that with a butter crust before. Use your hands to press the dough into the pan and up the sides. You can’t tell from the picture, but I realized that my tart pan was an 11-inch pan instead of the requisite 9-inch pan. I was well underway with this recipe and didn’t think to check the size of my pan. So after a little thought, I decided to increase the measurements by one-half. I should have just doubled the recipe; it would have been easier. Lesson learned: check your pan size and roll with the punches.
Quite a while ago, I learned that using a stainless steel measuring up was a perfect way to get straight sides for your tarts. Makes them look snazzy, and it helps with the bottom of the crust too.
When you make this, you will have the 9-inch pan and your crust will be more even. I kinda like the imperfections though, and I really like the lemon zest in the dough peeking up at me. Into a 350 degree oven it goes for about 12-15 minutes, and remember the bottom is removable, so be careful.
When it’s done, let it cool and do not remove it from the pan.
While the crust was baking, I got busy making an appointment with my cardiologist. More butter, 2 whole eggs plus 3 yolks, sugar, and juice and zest from more lemons. Oh my! Slice the room temp butter into 1 tablespoon pats, zest the lemons and then juice them. Set aside.
No. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. There are double the number of eggs in this bowl now. Because I increased the amount of dough to accommodate my tart pan, I will have to increase the amount of lemon curd. I doubled this portion of the recipe. You need to have a double boiler which you can easily put together with a saucepan of simmering water and a bowl. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Add sugar to the eggs.
Mix together and prepare to hang out here for a short time. You need to whisk this mixture for a bit.
Whisk for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the curd has thickened and begins to turn a pale lemon color, about 8-10 minutes. (Mine took longer because I had double the amount and my stove temp was low.)
Begin adding the butter, pat by pat, whisking until melted. Repeat this pattern until all butter is incorporated. Add lemon juice (I strained it to keep the little seeds out) and zest and keep whisking until curd is thick and custard-like. The best way I can describe what you want would be to say that there is some whisk-resistance when the curd is ready. You will begin to feel the soupy mixture resisting the ease with which the whisk moves in the bowl. You can also see how it coats the back of a spoon. It’s done.
Pour the warm curd into the cooled tart shell and smooth with a spatula if necessary. I put the extra curd into a container and it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, if it makes it that long. Let the tart cool and set for about 30 minutes and then refrigerate before slicing.
Be still my tart! Pure heaven in every bite. It is refreshing and surprisingly light tasting. It’s not an everyday dessert but one that I would definitely make again for a special occasion.
Just sharing the fallout…I’ve got a bit of cleaning-up to do!
Meyer Lemon Tart with Lemon Pastry
Lemon pastry shell:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon*
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar**
1-1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. (I’ve never ever done this when making tarts with butter crust. My pan is non-stick, so maybe you should grease if you’re using something other than non-stick.)
Stir butter, vanilla and almond extracts, lemon zest, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add flour to mixture until incorporated. The texture will be like a soft cookie dough if you use confectioner’s sugar and crumbly if you use granulated sugar. Place dough in greased tart pan and use your fingertips to slowly press the dough around until it covers the bottom and sides of pan.
Bake crust in oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool. Do not remove from pan.
While crust is baking, start making the filling.
Meyer Lemon Filling:
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1 tablespoon pats
Zest of 2 Meyer lemons, finely grated*
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
whipped cream (optional)
In the bowl of a double boiler, add eggs, yolks and sugar mixing well. Make sure double-boiler water is simmering and that the bowl itself is not touching the surface of the water. Whisk the curd until it has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the curd, allowing it to melt and incorporate before whisking in the next. Repeat until all butter is incorporated. Keep whisking the curd until it has thickened to a custard-like consistency. Do not allow it to boil. Immediately pour custard filling into cooled tart shell. Smooth with a spatula if necessary. Let custard set for 30 minutes and then refrigerate. Remove pan from tart just before serving. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
* If using Meyer lemons from an unknown source, you should quickly blanch them and then refresh them in ice water to remove any wax or other substance.
** By mistake I used granulated sugar for the pastry. Confectioner’s sugar will produce a softer crust, and I recommend using that. But the granulated sugar kept the crust, from the remainder of the tart that we couldn’t consume, from softening during refrigeration. I really liked that aspect, so the choice is yours I guess.
(Recipe adapted from Yummy Supper who adapted it from Patricia Wells At Home In Provence, a cookbook definitely worth checking out.)