- Have you made any desserts for the blog you wanna get rid of?
- Nah. Try me next week.
That's how a conversation with my neighbour goes every so often. She knows I don't particularly like scarfing down sugar covered sugar with a dollop of caramelized sugar so she's always at the ready in case I've made a dessert for my blog that I want to get rid of. It's fun to be my neighbour.
Just the thought of super-sweet desserts, in fact, makes me feel nauseous. Imagine eating sidewalk barf. That's how I feel about pecan pie.
I think that's a perfectly classy segue into discussing the very delicious lemon tart I'm about to introduce you to today!
THE LEMON DROP TART
Give me a tart, lemony dessert instead of an overly sweet, caramel covered pile of sacchariferousness any time. Summertime especially, seems to call for lighter, citrusy after dinner treats. I started making this dessert a couple of years ago after reading about homemade lemon curd in Signe Langford's cookbook Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs. It's one of the kazillion recipes I use from her book. Signe, a former restaurant chef, has chickens and with the help of my friend photographer Donna Griffith she created a cookbook about keeping backyard chickens and what to do with ALLLLLL of those eggs. The very first Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs recipe I tried was Signe's lemon curd recipe which I used in the birthday cake I made for Betty's 80th birthday.
The Naked Cake. Decorated with raspberries, amaranth and lemon verbena leaves. Honestly though? I'd have been happier eating a bowl of plain lemon curd. Which I have done on many occasions. Often without the aid of a spoon.
The secret to this lemon curd is using the entire egg, not just the yolks. It. Is. Spectacular. Since I started to feel weird about answering the door with a plain bowl of lemon curd in my hands and a huge wooden spoon sticking out of my mouth, I started to think maybe it would be a good idea to figure out a more socially acceptable way of getting my fill of lemon curd without having to make an entire birthday cake.
Enter the Lemon Drop Tart. Aptly named by me because it tastes like a ...... O.K., honestly if I have to tell you what it tastes like we've got some serious issues here. It tastes like a lemon drop. Just enough sweetness to make you sidewalk barf eaters happy and just enough tart to make the rest of us purse our lips in pleasure.
You can't get away with using RealLemon lemon juice in this recipe though because you WANT the zest. The zest makes all the difference in the world, so you need to use actual lemons. Normally I sub with RealLemon juice all the time, but you want the ZEST this go around.
If you want things to be exceptionally accurate when baking you really should weigh your ingredients as opposed to just measuring them. 6 Tablespoons of butter = 85 grams. I cut off what I *thought* was 6 Tablespoons of butter, but after weighing it I saw that I was 25 grams light and had to add some more. That's why you weigh. It's accurate.
This recipe calls for ½ a cup of lemon juice which is the juice of one large lemon if you have the strong, strong squeezing hands of a retired bricklayer.
LEMON DROP TART
- *DOUGH INGREDIENTS*
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup 1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup chilled lard or solid vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 5 tablespoons or more ice water
- *CURD INGREDIENTS*
- ½ cup 120 mL vanilla sugar
- ½ cup 120 mL freshly squeezed citrus juice
- Zest of 1 lemon or other citrus fruit
- 4 free-run eggs
- 6 tablespoon 85 grams butter, at room temperature, cut into chunks
- Preheat oven to 425 and place a metal baking sheet in the oven.
- For pie dough, mix together flour, sugar and salt in food processor.
- Add butter and lard and pulse until crumbly. Your fat pieces should be around the size of a pea.
- Dump contents into a bowl and add ice water. Mix with a fork. Add more ice water (1 teaspoon at a time) until the mixture holds together when you clench some in your fist.
- Divide dough in 2, press into flat circles, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hr.
- Roll dough out and fill a full sized or individual tart pans with dough. Chill for another half hour. (this helps prevent the dough from shrinking as you bake it!)
- Prick dough with fork, line with 2 sheets of aluminum foil then weigh down the foil with either ceramic pie weights or dry beans.
- Reduce oven temperature to 400F then place shell on preheated baking sheet to cook for 10 minutes. Edges will be golden and bottom of the dough shouldn't look raw.
- Remove shell from oven and remove foil and weights.
- Return shell to oven to cook until done - another 15 minutes apx.
- Once golden and cooked remove the pie shells from the oven and cool.
- Into the top part of a double boiler or bain marie whisk together the sugar and juice. The water in the bottom pan should be simmering gently.
- DON'T let the water get too hot or you'll end up with scrambled eggs, not lemon curd.
- Add the eggs and whisk for the next 15 minutes or so. Remember to scrape down sides.
- Once the mixture starts to seem like curd (around the thickness of Greek Yogurt) whisk in the butter one pat at a time, and the lemon zest.
- Transfer curd from hot pot to bowl and allow to cool a bit.
- Once cool to the touch but not completely cooled, spoon the curd into tart shell, refrigerate and enjoy once completely set.
I know the recipe looks long, but if you already have a favourite pie crust recipe, just do that. In fact, if you want, just use a frozen crust. Who the hell cares.
By the way, did I mention that I'm also featured in Signe's book, Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs? 'Cause I am. And this isn't like the time that I told you I was dating Idris Elba when I really wasn't, because we had already broken up. This is for real. I'm in the book.
This Lemon Drop Tart is made for warm summer nights on the porch, bare feet up, listening to the sound of Cicadas and the click clack of a far off push mower.
Tonight when my neighbour asks me the question "Have you made any desserts for the blog you wanna get rid of?" I will happily and honestly tell her, Nah.
That looks delicious !!.
You are making me drool.
I cannot stand sickeningly sweet desserts (into which category 99% of American or Canadian desserts fall in). My neighbour likes to bake but everything, and I mean EVERYTHING contains twice the amount of sugar than necessary.
I love fruity and especially tart fruity desserts and when I do bake (even when trying a new recipe) I always use a lot less sugar than what the recipe calls for.
The best lemon-y tasting dessert is the Cranberry Lime Tart (published years ago in the Bon Appétit magazine) that, as the name indicates, uses lime juice instead of lemon juice. I think it also calls for 1/2 cup but I always buy 6 large limes and squeeze every drop of juice outta them so that I end up with almost a cup (more is always better in this case). For anyone interested, the recipe is available on Epicurious.
The Cranberry Lime Tart recipe suggests using only egg yolks for the curd (and I don't think I have ever seen the suggestion of whole eggs anywhere else but then again I don't bake that much). Karen, what is the benefit of using whole eggs (except of having more curd, obviously).
And just for fun, look up the recipe on epicurious.com and read the reviews. Those that complain it's too way too tart make be ROFL (oh, and as usual, I use less sugar in this recipe as well. So, twice the amount of lime, maybe 60% of the suggested amount of sugar and people think the original is too tart. LOL
Lemon Meringue Pie.
Lemon, get this Karen, Cheesecake.
Dipping lemon cookies into lemon curd.
Unfortunately, due to "friends" oopsing on my order of top shelf tequila and substituting SourPuss every time we got together for an evening of 3Man or Kings, my ability to savour the tart, life affirming, jawcracking loveliness which is lemons, is much diminished, leading me to candied bourbon hickory everything. The sweetness is cloying, and vomit inducing, possibly even threatening of my health, but at least there is a reaction when I first imbibe them.
>Your fat pieces should be around the size of a pea.
Not after eating these all summer :-)
My favourite is lemon curd in merengue shells (I don't have your aversion to sweetness). The creaminess of the lemon curd with the crunch of the merengue is perfect.
Yes yes, that lemon tart looks absolutely delicious, but what really has me drooling is that wood handled whisk! Wherever did you get such a beauty?!?
Hi Sarah! I love that whisk toooooo. I was going to link to it but I looked all over the Internet and couldn't find it anywhere. It's from Restoration Hardware and it has a sliver of brass inlay all around the handle and the actual whisk is gold, not silver. It's beautiful! ~ karen!
I love anything lemon & the more lemon-y, the better. Your recipe seems delicious, will definitely give it a try. I'm with your other readers who commented on your photography & the whisk; your photos are frame-worthy & the whisk is a work of art itself. Can you give us the source? Thanks for another fabulous post!
Hi Jeannette. Thanks! The whisk is my favourite. I tried to link to it but it's no longer available anywhere. :( It's Restoration Hardware and I got it at the beginning of spring. ~ karen!
I recommend trying the pecan pie recipe from America's test Kitchen. Not overly sweet.
Hi. I wanted to report back that I made this tart this weekend. So delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Hey Heather! Thanks for reporting back! I'm glad you liked it. :) ~ karen!
Karen you are hilarious, thanks for the laugh. Maybe i found it funny because I can so relate. A good use for pecan pie might be to caulk holes in the basement foundation. Would provide an airtight seal and any mouse that attempted to chew through would implode from all the sugar coursing through its veins.
Lemon another story, curd already made and sitting in a bowl in the fridge ready to be enjoyed. Plus now I only have five dozen and a half eggs to use up. All the best.
LOL. Yup. The curd is great for egg use. Curd, souffle, meringue, yorkshire pudding ... :) ~ karen!
What size tart pans to use??? Did I miss that info?
About to make this tart and wondered if vanilla sugar is essential or whether I can just put sugar and then separate vanilla essence for the same effect? Thanks!
Hi Chloe! Sorry, I'm probably too late with my reply but vanilla sugar definitely isn't essential. It's just a nice touch. :) No need to try to add in any vanilla extract. Just use regular sugar and leave everything else as is. ~ karen!
I have made this citrus curd 3 times in two weeks, once with lime and twice with lemon. I. Am. Obsessed. I'm the same in that I don't care for sugary desserts but am all about anything sour
(blech sugar iced cake, yes, please strawberry rhubarb pie). I cannot get enough of this curd. On the last batch I actually did accost the neighbors on their evening walk with a lemon curd and blackberry tart on puff pastry. Went something like this- "HEY MARY! Wait! (*scurries over, tripping over soaker hose and nearly landing ass over tea kettle in the tomatoes*), any chance you and your husband would like a lemon tart!? 'Course you, do here you go!!"
Mary and her husband are nice neighbors and they too loved the lemon curd. This will be a staple from here on out!
I cannot wait to make this. Lemon and butter should be a religion.
Truer words were never spoken Michelle. ;) ~ karen!
This lemon curd changed my life. I have the per (free run) chickens and the side effect of that condition is more eggs than I can eat or give away. What I CAN give away are jars of lemon and lime curd. It. Is. So. Good. The lime is my favorite, but the lemon is also divine. This recipe is also super easy to make- I use a Pyrex bowl on a sauce pan and it comes out perfectly. Thank you!!
I'm glad you liked it Lauren! The only problem I've had with it (for real) is that I CANNOT stop myself from eating it. I seriously just eat it until it's gone right out of the bowl. :/ ~ karen!
1st off - YUM! I can't wait to make this tart!
2ndly - I love your silver pattern! I would love to know the name.
Meyer lemons are pretty amazing until sugar, eggs, butter and zest make a divine delight. I’m savoring every drop that didn’t fit into the 8 and 4 ounce mason jars. The curd is like liquid sunshine on a winter’s night. Thank you Karen.
I'm glad you liked it! I could eat the whole batch of this lemon curd. Soooo good. ~ karen!
Love your site. I made your mini pavlovas last week and the lemon curd recipe from my Vitamix book, except I used up the egg yolks from the pavs in the curd, instead of using all whole eggs. OMG, the curd was so good (but a bit too sweet) and so easy. So if you have a high-speed blender, the curd is a cinch to make. But I agree that the Vitamix recipe calls for too much sugar - 1.5 cups sugar to 5 eggs, compared to your 4 eggs to 1/2 cup sugar. Thanks again. My friends and I learn so much from your site.
I made your lemon tart recipe for the fam yesterday. They almost lost their small minds! The Tenderflake pie crust continues to receive rave reviews. It’s the perfect amount of crisp pastry to not-too-sweet filling. I used small Meyer lemons so I needed four of them to get a 1/2 cup of juice, and whisking for 15 minutes gets a little old, but it was worth it. Thanks for sharing!
I'm so glad it went over well Nancy! ~ karen