I had not pre-tested the recipe myself, but knew that if it came from Dorie by way of Pierre Hermé it had to be delicious - just like their wonderful World Peace cookies.
The tart was delicious and oh-so creamy! The shortbread crust was light and flaky and the perfect foil for the lemon cream. Piled with whatever seasonal fresh fruit is in season and you have a mouth-watering dessert.
Since there are 10 in our gourmet group and the recipe only serves 8, I requested to the couple to whom I assigned the recipe that they bring two - knowing it was likely to be very popular with our group.
Unfortunately, the person who made the recipe decided to double the recipe and make both at one time - big mistake! Not only was it too difficult to handle on the stove-top making the lemon cream, but pureeing the whole batch at once was a total disaster and it exploded out of the food processor all over the kitchen. Take note!
Thankfully, my friends did not hate me for assigning the recipe but after having to zest and squeeze 8 lemons and using and throwing out 8 eggs just to start over again, I will be sure not to assign dessert to them next time we host!
Very Creamy Lemon Cream Tart
Adapted from "Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart" by Dorie Greenspan from her book Baking from My Home to Yours
1 cup sugar
Zest of 3 lemons, finely grated
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, at room temperature
1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell (recipe to follow)
Fresh fruit for Garnish
Special Equipment: A candy thermometer or instant read thermometer
Have a strainer placed over a blender or food processor
*See note below
Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a large saucepan into which a heat-proof bowl can be fitted without touching the water.
In the bowl that will later be used to place over the simmering water, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels lukewarm to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. You must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. You will see the cream start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and as the cream is gets close to 180°F, it will start to thicken and you will see tracks from the whisk. Important — the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and keep checking the temperature. Depending on how the temperature of your stove, getting to the proper temperature can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as the cream reaches 180°F, pull it from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender or food processor and discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high and, while the machine is running, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container several times with each addition of butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine running to get a perfect light, airy texture or about another 3 minutes. If your machine overheats, you can work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a rest.
Pour the cream into a container and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal. Chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.
The tart should be served cold.
Advance preparation: The lemon cream will keep in the refrigerator for 4 days, however, once the tart is constructed, it’s best to eat it that day.
*Note: Do not double recipe – prepare separately if you need two tarts.
Sweet Tart Dough
Makes enough for one 9-inch crust
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
¼ cup finely ground pecans or pistachios
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Note: It is best to press this dough into the pan rather than rolling it out first.
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. In a small bowl, stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, to the food processor, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change. At this point, turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that didn't get mixed in.
Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress—it can go from golden to way too dark quickly. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling. If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust and bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.
Advance Preparation: Dough can be kept in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for up to 5 days.
I'm sharing this Lemon Tart with all my friends at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday this week. Have a peek at all of the wonderful treats that will be shared.
And, since this recipe is a flashback of our Gourmet dinner, I'm also linking to Flashback Friday at Kitchen Bouquet!