One of my favorite desserts has always been a lemon meringue pie, in fact, I do believe it was the first pie my mother taught me to bake. With that said, I am a lover of lemons, so when I came across Darjeeling Dreams recipe for a lemon tart, I immediately gave it a go. Upon taking my first bite, I was more than impressed, the rich creamy texture and buttery dough makes this a perfect dessert that not only cleanses the palette, but leaves you satisfied. Serve with a cup of hot coffee or tea, and your evening will be complete.
Meyer’s Lemon Tart
*1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and frozen for 1+ hour
*1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1/2 tbsp sugar
*1/2 tsp salt
*2-4 tsp ice water
*1/2 lemon juice (approximately 3.5 small Meyer lemons)
*2 tbsp lemon zest
*4 egg yolks
*2 whole eggs
*1 cup sugar
*pinch of salt
*1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
+ 2 tbsp of pine nuts or beans or coffee beans for baking tart shell
1. Make pastry dough: mix together flour, sugar, and salt on your work surface. Blend in most of the butter (reserve about 6 little cubes in the freezer) with your fingertips or a pastry blender just until most of mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps.
2. Gradually drizzle 2 tbsp ice water over mixture while gently mixing with a fork.
Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring until just incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.
3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
4. While dough is chilling, make lemon curd. Bring a medium/large saucepan (or double boiler) of water to a simmer. Suspend a heatproof bowl over this, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Combine lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, eggs, and sugar in the bowl. Stir constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula (7 to 10 minutes). Heat should be about medium to medium-high.
5. Remove from heat, add cubes of butter. In order to guarantee a very fine finish – using a fine mesh strainer, pour the curd through, removing any large pieces of zest, etc. Refrigerate, placing cellophane on top to make sure the top doesn’t harden while cooling.
6. Make tart: Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare your 10-inch tart pan: line the bottom with a circular piece of parchment paper and butter the sides.
7. When you are ready to roll out the dough, make sure your countertop (or rolling surface) is very very clean, and flour lightly. Flour the rolling pin as well, and reserve a handful of flour. Roll out ball as thinly and evenly as possible. Spread three of the cold butter cubes onto one half. Fold dough in half, and roll out again, keeping the shape as circular and even in thickness as possible, making a 13-inch circle. Fit dough into prepped tart pan: press dough against side of pan and leave 1/4 inch above sides.
8. Line the inside of the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or with dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, or until side is set. Remove foil and weights, and press pine nuts into crust (don’t put the nuts on the sides). Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.
9. Remove the tart; and turn up the oven temperature to 475°f. Fill tart shell with lemon curd, smoothing top. Bake for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until the top is gently golden-brown.
10. Cool thoroughly, about half an hour, before serving.
Key Things To Keep In Mind:
*Use a tart pan that is in two pieces so that you have a beautiful final presentation without having to worry about taking it out of the pan. (click here to view one from Williams Sonoma)
*Using the fine meshed strainer makes an amazing difference in the finish of the dish. It looks much more professional and smooth.
*Stir constantly during the 7-10 minutes you are waiting for the curd to thickening so that it doesn’t burn.