Butter. Butter. Sugar. Butter. Sugar. Sugar. Lemon. Lemon. Lemon. Lemon. Butter.
This recipe from La Tartine Gourmande is so over the top and calls for so much more sugar on top of sugar on top of butter than I really feel comfortable using, but damn it’s good. I only tested the recipe once – more than that, and I’d worry Paula Deen would be summoned by the butter and sugar gods and mysteriously appear at my house, never to leave again. That being said, this is such a delicious tart that would be great for an indulgent holiday party…alongside a champagne toast NYE!
I found this recipe initially confusing, only because the author uses weight instead of volume, and I don’t have a scale. So, I ended up using a pie crust recipe from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. If you choose to do that, you might have a bit more dough than filling, but you can always freeze the leftover dough for another day. If you want to see the original crust recipe for this, check out the full recipe at La Tartine Gourmande. Other than that, these tarts were surprisingly easy to make.
My friend Merri and I made these together, as part of our lemon-themed meal. Check out the kale salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette we had!
Makes about 6-8 four-inch tartlets
For the Tart and Pie Dough:
- 1/2 cup ice-cold water
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small (1/4 inch) cubes
For the Meyer Lemon Cream:
- 5 Meyer lemons, zest and juice
- 4 eggs
- About 1/2 cup fine sugar, to taste
- 2 sticks butter plus a smidge more, at room temperature
For the Candied Lemon Peels:
- Equal parts sugar and water. She doesn’t give directions on how much to use, so I improvised, but a half cup sugar and a half cup water should do the trick. Feel free to adjust if necessary.
- 2 Meyer lemons for the peels
Tart and Pie Dough
- Cut or work the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips, leaving some of the butter in fairly large, irregular pieces. This will take 1 or 2 minutes. (Or mix for no more than 1 minute, at medium-low speed, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)
- Pour in three-quarters of the water, stirring all the while with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. (In the mixer, turn the speed to low and pour the water down the sides of the bowl, mixing for 30 seconds or less.) Keep adding water if needed.
- Divide the dough in two, bring each part together into a ball, and wrap each ball in plastic. Compress each ball, and then flatten into disks. Let rest, refrigerated, for 1 hour or longer.
- There are really in-depth notes on how to roll out the dough, and other helpful tips, in The Art of Simple Food, but to summarize, after you roll out the dough, pre-bake it by filling the tart molds with the dough. Line the shell with parchment paper and add some dried beans or rice (reserved for this use, to weigh down the dough). Bake in a 375 oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edge, then remove the paper and rice.
- Return to the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the tart is an even golden brown, then the crust is ready! Once the filling is done, all you need to do is put it in the crust – no need to go back in the oven with the filling.
Meyer Lemon Cream
- Place the sugar in a large, heat-proof bowl – I used a glass Pyrex bowl.
- Finely grate the zest of the lemons and add them to the sugar. I used a handheld grater, which worked fine. Mix with the tip of your fingers.
- Add the eggs and lemon juice (about 6 oz or 3/4 cup) and whisk well.
- Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water without touching, in order to thicken the cream. It is ready when it coats a wooden spoon. Be patient – it might take longer than you expect and seem like not much is happening, but then all of a sudden, you’ll have beautiful lemon cream!
- Remove from the heat and let cool a little before adding the pieces of soft butter. Mix well by hand first until the butter is melted, then with a hand mixer to lighten the cream. It can take a few minutes.
Candied Lemon Peels
- Boil the lemon sticks in water for 3 minutes, and repeat 3 times, changing the water each time. Make a syrup with the same amount of water and sugar mixed together. Bring to a gentle boil and then add the lemon peels. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, on medium to low heat. Keep an eye on it to prevent burning as there is little liquid.
- Once the crusts are cold, fill them with lemon cream. Level it and add the candied peels on top. Let cool a little before serving.
I added some pickled watermelon alongside the candied lemon peel, from a batch I made at the end of summer (again, using The Preservation Kitchen). Such a fun flavor!