I think I realized that I was an adult when I started liking lemon desserts. You know as a kid all you want is chocolate and more chocolate? That was me for sure. But in the past couple of years I have noticed asking to for lemony desserts instead. Don’t get me wrong I will take any dessert I can get my hands on but I will always choose a lemon tart over a molten chocolate cake – lemon seems to be my thing.
I think this all started when I took my first bite of the Lemon Chiffon Cake from Tartine Bakery. I am totally in love with that thing. About 4 years ago I interviewed for a job that I really wanted. After like 10 rounds of interviews, I didn’t get it. I was devastated. All I could think of doing was that I needed to make this Lemon Chiffon Cake. Bizarre I know – but it was a weird time. Or maybe I am just weird…? Either way I poured myself into making this cake. I am pretty sure Luke thought I was crazy but here he is helping me put the finishing touches on it. He just wanted to use a blow torch.
I recently picked up Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook Baking which has a recipe from Pierre Herme for a lemon tart. Since this seemed way less time intensive than the Lemon Chiffon Cake, I gave it a shot.
It did not disappoint. It is incredible. I want jump headfirst into that lemon cream filling – it is that good. Dorie’s recipe called for a basic pie/tart dough but I made a gingersanp crust instead. To save some time you could definitely purchase a graham cracker crust from the grocery store. I think anyway this tart is going to be delicious. The making of the cream is a little time intensive – but I promise it is worth it.
Baking by Dorie Greenspan, adapted from Pierre Herme
- 1 1/4 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 25 cookies ground in processor)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced crystallized ginger
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (21 tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Mix gingersnap cookie crumbs, sugar, and ginger in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is evenly moistened. Transfer crumb mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish; press crumbs firmly and evenly onto bottom and up sides to top of dish. Bake until crust is firm and slightly darker in color, about 8 minutes. Cool crust completely.
For the filling:
Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out 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. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 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.