Thursday, July 22, 2010

Very Creamy Lemon Cream Tart ~ Last of the Gourmet Night Recipes

I'd like to share one last recipe from our Gourmet Group dinner that my husband and I hosted on July 4. This was the dessert and finale of our event. If a recipe has chocolate or lemon in the title, my attention is immediately focused on it! I chose to assign Dorie Greenspan's Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart from Baking, From My Home to Yours to one of the couples in our group.

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!

The Recipe~

Very Creamy Lemon Cream Tart
Adapted from "Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart" by Dorie Greenspan from her book Baking from My Home to Yours
Printable Recipe

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!


  1. Ciao, Susan :-) Complimenti, è una torta fantastica... Che sofferenza poterla solo guardare in foto!

  2. looks wonderful Susan!I love every kind of cake with lemon...thanks for sharing, kisses...

  3. The pastry was the first thing that caught my eye. It looks light and crumbly. Then the filling...mmmm, creamy is definitely the right word!!

  4. ciao Susan!!!
    complimenti per questa super delizia!!!
    sono pronta con cucchiaino e piattino per una fetta!!!:-)))


  5. Yikes! Definitely a lesson learned the hard way! There are just some recipes you cannot double. The tart looks delicious. My son loves lemon desserts so I may make this one for him.

    ~ Tracy

  6. Susan, this looks delicious and I'm quite sure they don't hate you- this will provide for some great future storytelling!
    xoxo Pattie

  7. Did your friends still love it after the food processor disaster? It sure looks good and sounds like it would be such a refreshing summer dessert.

  8. Dorie is DEFINITELY the person to turn to for baked goods! This tart is no exception...although I'm so sorry that your friend had to endure an exploding food processor to create it!

  9. I would love to have a slice of that right now! Sounds and looks wonderful.
    Have a great weekend.

  10. It looks delicious!
    I do have that book, and my mom made a shortbread crust almost exactly the same way.
    I have doubled the crust with no trouble, but I have never made the lemon filling.

  11. Chocolate and lemon, me too!!!

    Oh I can't imagine the explosion all over the kitchen. We should have a blog post where everyone posts their worst kitchen disasters!

  12. Looks beautiful, what a fantastic dessert! (and good friends!) My two fav's are chocolate and lemon too!

  13. This sounds like an amazing dessert! Just delicious and light and creamy, too. Thanks for sharing and for sharing the tips.

    Happy FF...


    Sheila :-)

  14. Susan, Great minds think alike! Lemon tart/lemon pie in my case since I don't have a tart pan...! The recipes are different but I'm sure really delicious. Your tart looks beautiful too. So sorry about your friend's bad experience cooking it!

  15. Your lemon tart is my kind of dessert! So sorry it couldn't be doubled :(

  16. Ha, I love the note :) Glad they persisted, it looks fantastic!

  17. This must be an absolutely divine lemony and buttery tart if it was developed by Pierre Hermes and recommended by Dorie Greenspan. It looks terrific!

  18. Wow!
    can not wait to try this recipe out as with so many others on your site. Thank you!

  19. Luckily the couple persisted and produced this delicious tart!! And, learned a valuable lesson in the process. When I first really got into cooking, we belonged to a gourmet couples' group and it was such a good experience. One member, an orthopedic surgeon, taught me how to bone a chicken leaving it completely intact for stuffing and roasting--just one of the culinary tricks I learned and still use.


  20. I think one of the things I love about your blog is the way I get to sample so many great cookbooks with you as my guide... I am not a huge dessert person (Dr. Lostpast doesn't eat them so I don't make as many as I used to since I just can't eat them myself!) but I love lemon and this is a great Dorie recipe. I think I just have to break down and get one of her books. Fun post.. thanks!

  21. I've seen this recipe before and have always wanted to try it. Thanks for your tips, Susan. This tart is so pretty on the plate. What a lovely end to your gourmet group meal.

  22. Oh what good sports your friends were to make it again and not run out to the local bakery!!! It looks like a wonderful dessert. I am like you, say lemon and I am all over it!!!

  23. Wow! I will remember the tip about not doubling this delicious recipe. I just found your blog and I love it. I signed up to follow you and will be checking your blog often!

  24. I do love that book! I have not yet made this tart, but one of my sons has marked it for me to make for him when he comes home. I'll be sure to remember not to double it! Thanks for sharing :)

  25. The lemon tart souns delish! I've been part of several gourmet groups! It can be a fun way to share the pasion of cooking with other like-minded people. It can also be a very frustrating venture...I've been part of both.

  26. Funny story and wonderful looking pie. I should make that for my Dad while he's here since he loves lemon pie and lemon bars. Thanks for joining me in the flashback!

  27. Thanks for the tip Susan! I hate cleaning up a kitchen mess :-) Lemon anything gets my attention!
    The lemon tart looks wonderful.

  28. Yummy - printing one out for me and one for my employee here!

  29. Mmmm, surely they will not hate you with a final product as perfect as this!! I'm sure it was worth it.
    Have a great weekend!

  30. I think this is one of the prettiest desserts I have ever seen. Your description sounds delicious too! I have this book and think I should bet busy planning to try it.

  31. Wow! great photos. I think I can taste that tart. It is tart and sweet at the same time; so pretty with teh blueberries on top.

  32. I have really loved following this dinner, Susan. What fun that must have been and such great food!

    But I think the dessert is the winner. I love desserts! And I love lemon best. If Dorie says it's's GOOD.
    I really like the idea of nuts in the crust and that lemon filling is so it was tangy.

  33. With that amount of lemon juice, that tart is tart enough even for me! I have now a deep hankering for a slice of it!!!!


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