October 1, 2011

Tarte au Citron

Bowl of Lemons

If I had to choose just one dessert to eat for the rest of my life, Tarte au Citron would be it. I think it is the most sublime of all French desserts.

My first introduction to the Lemon Tart came in 1994, when I was given a copy of Sheila Lukins' All Around the World Cookbook. This is the first recipe I cooked from the book and once I tried it, I was hooked. And so is everyone who has ever tasted it.

This version is perfect in its simplicity. It is tart and tangy and very, very lemony. The way a real Tarte au Citron should be.

Craig's Lemon Tart

Velvety Tarte au Citron
From All Around the World Cookbook by Sheila Lukins
Makes 1 9-inch tart, serves 8-10

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
  • 2 tablespoons heavy (or whipping) cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

1. Place the butter in a food processor and process a few seconds, until creamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and process until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 20 seconds, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the vanilla. Combine the flour and salt, then add to the food processor. Process until the dough comes together around the sides of the bowl; scrape the sides of the bowl and process for a few seconds more.

2. With lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (Press around the bottom edge of the tart with your finger, making sure that the dough is not too thick.)

3. Trim any excess dough at the top of the tart pan with a knife. Lightly press the dough around the inside of the rim with your thumb so that it extends about 1/8 inch above the pan. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Chill the dough in the freezer at least 30 minutes or overnight.

4. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

5. Bake the partially or fully frozen tart shell until fully baked and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

6. Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the lemon juice together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the heavy cream, then the eggs and the egg yolks. Combine thoroughly. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the filling thickens and the whisk leaves a trail, about 4 minutes.

7. Strain the filling into a bowl, then pour it into the baked tart shell. Bake for 4 minutes.

8. Cool thoroughly on a rack and serve at room temperature. Before serving, carefully remove the sides and bottom of the pan and carefully slide the tart onto a decorative plate.

*yes, I actually do make my own pastry for this tart. It requires nothing more than whipping it up in a food processor, which I don't mind doing.

(the photo above is not a Tarte au Citron from this recipe, but is a similar one made by a friend)
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Bienvenue chez French Girl in Seattle... said...

What is left to say except: "Miam! Miam!" ;-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Betty C. said...

I agree, I think it is my favorite dessert! But I got the taste for it in the USA with my Grandma's homemade lemon meringue pie and also a recipe I used to make from a Peanuts cookbook called "Lucy's Lemon Squares." If I can find the latter, I'll send it to you on Twitter!

Anonymous said...

Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Love the Silver Palate ladies.

Kristin said...

Sounds delicious! Yummy!! Happy weekend!

Love, Kristin

Dvora said...

Tarte au citron is my favorite too and I could also eat it day in and day out (given the chance). And like Betty, I started out loving lemon meringue pie, except that I didn't have a grandmother who made them.

helen tilston said...

Thank you for this delicious recipe. I may include in in my Canadian Thanksgiving dinner! Very timely
Helen xx

Ellie said...

You know I've never tried or made tarte au citron but I have to say I might after reading your blog. Looks and sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing. :)

Ellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chcmichel said...

The Tarte au Citron looks delicious. The Silver Palate cookbook was one of my first cookbooks.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I thought that tarte caramel au buerre salé was my favorite, but I think that it might tie with the lemon... miam-miam!


Tanya said...

Be still my heart.
I am on an unofficial quest to find the best tarte (ou tartelette) au citron. My search generally happens when I'm in Paris. I've found a bakery/pastry shop where the tartelette is pretty darn good and the crust! Oh the crust!

Anyway, thanks for the recipe; I must give this one a whirl. It's been a while since I've baked anything.

Emm said...

Oooh, nice new header photo. That reddish-orange really pops, and for a split second I thought the local vedange was advertising for Chez Loulou!

Chez Loulou said...

Couldn't agree more!

I've never been a fan of meringue, but love the Lemon Squares from my childhood. I still make them!

I love their books and was very sad when Sheila Lukins passed away. She was far too young.

Chez Loulou said...

It is! Hope you had a nice weekend.

Another Tarte au Citron fan! :)

Please let me know if you do. It is a great recipe!

Chez Loulou said...

I hope you try it and I hope you love it. Thanks for stopping by!

It was one of mine too. I still have my copy, which is practically falling apart.

Well, tarte caramel au buerre salé is pretty hard to beat, but tarte au citron is fantastic!

Chez Loulou said...

That sounds like an admirable quest! I often find that the lemon tarts from pastry shops are too sweet, or they ruin them with whipped cream. If you find a really good one, please let me know. I'm going to Paris for a week in November and am always happy to hear about a great pastry shop!

Merci! Glad you like it. :)

Will said...

High praise considering where you live! I'm definitely using this recipe in the next few days.

Jennifer said...

Hope you enjoy the tart. :)