Lemon tart for the 4th

This is my second attempt at this dessert and my second recipe.  Suffice to say, this one won out.  The main reasons for the winning was simplicity of this recipe.  Whereas the night before Easter I was desperately trying to get a custard-like filling to not overflow as I put it in the oven, I only had to spend a great deal of time sweating it out over the stove for this to reach the correct consistency.  On my previous attempt, the tart overflowed out of the tart pan all over the baking sheet and came out with a harsh burnt top with an entirely liquid center.  After an hour of baking.  Disappointed does not even come close to describing how I felt about that.  No baking was required of this tart (other than the shell) and I am thrilled about that!

 Matt and I spent Saturday working at my grandmother’s house.  Upon her death, I became the owner of her home, property and all the contents therein.  I am completely conflicted about this new responsibility and unsure of our next move.  Saturday was spent moving all my aunt’s possessions out of the house and making a vain attempt at creating some order.  At the end of the day, I was feeling defeated when I got a phone call inviting us to a 4th of July picnic at a friend’s house.  I could taste a lemony dessert as I said we’d be there.  This dessert was perfect for the night and I’m debating whether or not I should make this again or move on to something else from my mastery list for my birthday!

French Lemon Cream Tart (Baking: from My Home to Yours by Dorrie Greenspan)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • the grated zest of 3 lemons
  • 3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 10.5 oz butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature
  • 1 9-in. tart crust (the book recommends one, but I didn’t like it as well as my usual crust recipe)

Zest the lemons and mix them together with the sugar in a heatproof bowl.  Using either your fingers or a spatula, mash the sugar and zest together until the sugar is moist from the zest and a little bit grainy.  Your kitchen will smell heavenly!  Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.  Heat a pan of water to simmering and place the bowl over the top.  Once the mixture starts to feel warm, begin whisking.  Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees.  You will need to whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling.  I gave up measuring the temperature and went by the appearance of the cream.  When it was thick and the whisk left tracks through on each swipe, I took it off the heat.  (Dorrie’s instructions say it can take up to 10 minutes to reach the proper temperature, but because I was using such a heavy bowl, I whisked and cooked for almost half an hour.  It was 92 degrees yesterday.  I’ll be using a lighter bowl next time.) 

When the cream is cooked, remove it from the heat and allow it too cool to an approximate temperature of 140 degrees.  Once it has reached that temp, pour it into a sturdy blender and add a few pieces of butter.  You will need to add the butter a few pieces at a time until it is all incorportated before continuing.  If your blender is having trouble with the cream, which mine did, you can use a food processor or an immersion blender.  I used the immersion blender.  Blend the cream once all the butter is added for an additional 3 minutes, the cream is light and fluffy.  Chill the cream for a minimum of 4 hours before pouring into a baked tart shell.  I chilled mine again before serving and topped it with fresh raspberries.  

**Notes:  The photo in the book shows a cream that is much lighter than mine.  While I cannot say for sure, I’m going to believe it’s because of the eggs I used.  My eggs are home-grown and have an almost orange yolk to them.  Hence the rich yellow of my tart. 

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