French Lemon Tart

Sweet Recipes, Winter • 1 Jan 2010

IMG_1077I used to cower away from baking desserts. With cooking, a misstep can unfold into a surprising success. Accidents in baking, on the other hand, yield unwanted trash weights. Searingly salty cookies and sunken soufflés weigh down garbage cans all over the world.

That’s why I always bypassed pastry-making. I was unable to handle the precision, an ironic turn for a type-A cook like myself. However, as of late, I have become increasingly drawn to baking. Blame it on my newly anointed sweet tooth, but sugar has wormed its way into my salt-encrusted heart.

So, when life gives you lemons, make French lemon tarts! This recipe, which I gleaned from epicurious.com, is as indelible and it is delectable.

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The almond crust tastes earthy and buttery, which contrasts and balances the sweet and mouth-puckeringly tart lemon curd. Olive oil acts as a secret ingredient, giving the crust a complex flavor and crumbly texture and deepening the richness of the lemon curd. I recommend topping individual pieces with slightly sweetened homemade whipped cream. C’est bon!

French Lemon Tart

Updated from Epicurious.com

For tart shell:
2 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 1/2 tablespoons fruity olive oil

For lemon curd:
3 large lemons
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons fruity olive oil

Equipment:
a 9-inch round tart pan with removable side; a small offset spatula

Make tart shell:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in middle.

2. Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and sea salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

3. Add yolk and oil and pulse until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed.

4. Spread dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan with offset spatula. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

5. Bake shell until golden brown all over, about 13 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make curd:

1. Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons.

2. Whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking, 2 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove lemon zest and other lumps. Whisk in butter and oil until smooth.

Assemble tart:

Pour lemon curd into cooled shell and chill until set, at least 2 hours. Serve with homemade whipped cream.

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