It’s been a week of some serious treats at my house. It all started last Saturday with this birthday cake for my daughter.
Then, there was the Daring Baker’s challenge.
Next, these killer chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes for a Food52 contest…
And finally…this lemon cream tart. A tart so delicious, I can’t seem to find the words to do it proper justice.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been unable to stop buying bags of Meyer lemons every time I’m at the store.
I’ve been using them in lots of different ways including this healthy Meyer Lemon Pudding that I shared last week. But because they probably won’t be available here for too much longer, I decided to use my remaining Meyer lemons to make Dorie Greenspan’s Lemon Cream Tart.
Lemon cream is very much like lemon curd, only the butter is added/emulsified in at the end. Dorie gives credit for this technique/recipe to French pastry chef Pierre Herme.
Like lemon curd, lemon cream can be used on toast, muffins, scones, or pancakes. It’s also fabulous in between cake layers or, of course, as the filling for this tart.
Because I had leftover gluten-free graham crackers from the Daring Baker’s Challenge, I used these to make a graham cracker crust.
The crunchy sweet base filled with the cool lemon cream…
You can make a graham cracker crust with traditional store-bought graham crackers, if you like, or go ahead and use your favorite fully baked 9 inch tart shell. You can make the lemon cream ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer, but make sure to assemble the tart right before you plan to eat it.
Lemon Cream Tart
adapted from the recipe for Pierre Herme's Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan; note that I omitted the lemon zest and decreased the butter...
*You will need a candy thermometer, a double boiler, and a blender for this recipe; the tart will serve 8
*1 cup sugar, preferably organic
*4 large eggs, preferably organic and free range
*3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons)
*1 stick plus 5 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces (note that Dorie's recipe calls for one more whole stick of butter)
*1 fully-baked graham cracker crust (gluten-free or traditional) or a 9-inch tart shell
1. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. In a small pot that will fit in the saucepan, whisk in the eggs with the sugar and then the lemon juice.
2. Fit the bowl into the pan and cook, stirring with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature as you're cooking the cream. You want it to reach 180°F.
This can take a long time, and while Dorie instructs to keep whisking, I did not stir the whole while.
3. I found that in the double boiler, curdling the egg really wasn't a concern. I left and got a whole bunch of laundry folded and nothing bad happened. Do make sure to keep water in the bottom of your double boiler, though, because it will evaporate more than once while your lemon cream is cooking.
4. As it heats up and as you keep whisking the the cream, Dorie says "it will go from light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready". Keep whisking, but know that it really can take a little while longer to reach 180°F.
5. When the temperature reaches 180°F, take it off the heat and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
6. In a blender, process the cream on high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Continue to blend until all the butter has been added and the cream is perfectly smooth.
7. Pour the cream into a container and chill for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.
8. The tart should be served cold, and it is fantastic with a dollop of crème fraîche or Greek yogurt.
This tart is best the day it is made, but I’ve been eating the leftovers out of the freezer and it’s pretty darn delicious this way too!
A Little More Meyer Lemon Love:
Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Meyer Lemon Curd Nanaimo Bars
Kelsey the Naptime Chef’s Meyer Lemon Rice Pudding
Local Lemons’ Local Meyer Limoncello
And for even more lovely lemon recipes, check out the Lemon LoveFest Library over at Wine Imbiber!