10 May 2011

Unforgettable, unregrettable lemon tart

You won't regret this tart.

(Unless you hate lemons or are scared stiff by cholesterol . . . in that case you will regret this big time, because it contains 6 lemons and 10 egg yolks! Also, I usually stick with whole foods but I don't mind bending the rules on occasion for the sake of an excellent dessert. So this recipe contains refined flour and sugar.)

Make sure you chill the tart thoroughly before slicing. And if you have leftover curd, which you probably will, try it on scones or with sliced strawberries.

This took me a while to make the first time, but most new recipes do. The second time, it was a snap. A tart crust should be a quick affair anyway, since overworking makes it tough, and this curd recipe is extremely easy. The most time-consuming part is zesting lemons. :)

Zesty Lemon Tart
(crust here, filling here, with my own twist)

Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons very cold butter, diced
2 large egg yolks*

Lemon Curd Filling:
juice and zest of 6 large lemons (make sure you squeeze every last drop of juice out of them!)
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons butter

For the crust:
1) Stir together flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Cut in butter quickly with pastry blender, until resembles coarse crumbs.
2) Add egg yolks and stir to bring together in a ball. You may need another yolk-- I did the second time I made this-- it just depends on how big your eggs are. Try not to overhandle the dough. Just use a flexible spatula and/or your hands to form it into a cohesive ball.
3) Coat a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan with nonstick spray. Press dough into prepared pan and freeze for at least 60 minutes.
4) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a large piece of foil. Remove crust from freezer, and press foil (buttered side down) firmly onto crust and up the sides. Bake 25 minutes. Peel away foil, and press down any bubbles that have popped up. Bake 5-8 minutes more, until nicely golden. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemon curd filling:
1) Place all ingredients except for 6 tablespoons butter into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly** until it begins to thicken and bubble gently. Reduce heat to low, and keep whisking! You don't want it to stick or burn.
2) When it has thickened enough for the whisk to leave visible "tracks" in the curd, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter, one tablespoon at a time until completely melted and incorporated.
3) Let cool for a while, so it isn't steaming hot. Pour directly into the (completely cooled) tart crust, or pour into a glass bowl and keep in the fridge until crust is ready. Either way, cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Let finished tart chill for at least 8 hours before serving.
4) If you have texture issues, you might not like all the zest in this curd, and you'll want to strain it before cooling. But I love lemon zest and hate laborious straining, so I skip that step. :)

*Don't discard the whites, of course. You can use them-- and those from the filling-- to make candied nuts or macaroons, or if you aren't in the mood for sweet things, simply use them for a super-high-protein version of omelets, quiche, or scrambled eggs. Delicious options abound.
**Or, if you're like me, "really frequently." I just don't do "constant" whisking, not when it lasts more than two minutes! Fussypants techniques = irritated me.

{image credit: Nick Nieto on Flickr}

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