This tart is all about the lemon, so don’t be shy!
Anyone who knows me, knows I love lemons! To me, my idea of lemonade is freshy squeezed lemon juice and water, that’s it! I was delighted when I realized that all three of my grandchildren loved to suck on raw lemons since they were babies.
My mom was also a lemon lover. One of her favorite tarts to make was my Aunt Jeanette’s lemon tart, only Mom always topped it with meringue, probably because my aunt never did and they were a bit competitive in the kitchen.
Let’s simplify here
In my aunt’s original recipe, a classic French tarte au citron, she mixed the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs together over heat until thickened, then added the butter (tediously I’ll add here), one pat at a time, mixing until melted. Since I make my lemon curd by tossing all this in the pan at once, and this is essentially a lemon curd with just a bit more body, I simplified the steps and time considerably with no difference in texture.
Always make it the way you like!
Aunt Jeanette’s recipe used more sugar; I’ve reduced the sugar because I like it that way, more tart than sweet, but as with everything else I tell folks, if you like it sweeter, add more sugar! You can add up to a third cup more sugar. It’s always about what we like, and when we are creating our own dishes, we can tailor it to our own taste. She also sometimes beat some whipped cream and folded it into the lemon to make a kind of lemon chiffon pie, very delicious.
You can use another citrus here, but lemon is the best! If you want a bit less lemon zing, use a bit less of the zest.
I used an all-butter crust here, but any favorite crust will do! This recipe is for the holidays, and I didn’t even try to make it less decadent, it just wouldn’t be worth it. It’s rich, and you only need a very small slice! Very small, trust me.
Now, pucker up!
Aunt Jeanette’s Luscious Lemon Tart
- 1 ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Grated zest of three large lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar
- 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter (12 tbsp.)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 10” prebaked tart crust, cooled
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and place rack in the middle of oven. Have your 10” tart pan ready for action.
Zest the lemons and then squeeze them using whatever type of reamer or press you like. While I find the hinged lemon presses everyone uses these days handy, I find the old -fashioned reamers do a little better job of extracting all the juice, but use whatever you like.
Cube the butter, and separate the four egg yolks, reserving the whites for another use. Maybe an egg white omelet the next morning to make up for the rich night before.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all the ingredients at once and place over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, keep stirring until the mixture is thickened; a whisk is handy here to keep everything smooth. When ready, you will want it to be the consistency of a thick pudding, and while it won’t be boiling, there will be big plops of curd bubbles breaking through like it wants to start really boiling.
Put the curd through a wire mesh strainer, pressing as much through as possible, and don’t forget to scrape what is left on the bottom of the sieve. This step removes the zest and any unpleasant pieces of egg white that may have congealed.
Pour into your baked shell, and smooth it flat. Bake for about 10 minutes, just to finish setting the tart.
Cool completely, overnight is best, with a thin film of plastic wrap set directly on top to prevent a skim from forming. When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
You can also top this with whipped cream, or use this as a base for a luscious lemon meringue pie like my mother.
And by itself, the filling makes a lovely curd for muffins and scones, so it’s an all-purpose lemon delight!
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