Lemon Curd tarts – Tarte au Citron

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Lemon Curd Tarts, a tangy custard filling in a almond shortbread tart, the Thomas Kellar way is a sure shot winner recipe. Read on for a detailed instructions for making a lemon curd that can be used as a cake filling, or tart filling or just has with some butter cookies. 

For a long long long time i was confused, well never read about whats the difference between all the varied types of lemons available in the market. The cute little green lemons i see in the market here in India, i always thought were far too sour to try any dessert called lemon something! But the very color of such desserts were so inviting, so fresh that it was itched in my mind that i have to read and try it someday.

The Thomas Keller way to do a lemon curd is the most trusted one and such a smooth curd it ends up with, that you dont need to ook for any other variation. Most places follow one recipe that i see here at epicurious and at max have a little variation here and there. But the method is worth the read and i loved it. 

Ingredients

  • For the Tart Shells
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 stick, 115 gms butter softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • For the filling / lemon custard
  • 2 eggs, cold
  • 2 egg yolks, cold
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh grated lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in 6 parts, or 6 tbsp of soft butter made cold after measuring. 

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Directions

  1. Prepare the dough :
    1. Mix the almond meal, flour and both the sugars in a medium bowl.
    2. Add the butter to it and rub it well with your fingers, the result will be grainy.
    3. Now add the egg and lemon zest and mix it well to get a soft dough. It will be a little loose to feel, but use some flour, and roll it into a round ball, and wrap it in a cling foil and refrigerate for at least an hour. 
    4. I used 6 Wilton perfect results 4.75 inch round tart pans with removable bottoms, you can instead use one 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable botom. 
    5. Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease the pans, place a greaseproof paper on the bottom of the pan(optional), and again grease and dust the pans well, and then refrigerate it while the oven preheats. 
    6. Take out the dough from the refrigerator, roll it into a 3-4 mm sheet, and cut them into 6 inch circles, and evenly place it on the tart pans.
    7. Trim off any excess if required. Remember the tart shell expands, so never think your layer is too thin. 
    8. Make multiple fork insertions on the bottom of the tart shell, so that it doesn’t fluff up, Place a greaseproof paper circle on top of the bottom of the shell, and place some pie weights or beans.
    9. Bake the shells for 10 to 15 minutes, and rotate it and bake for another 10 minutes, the corners will be brown by then. Remove them from the oven and let it cool while you make the sabayon.
  2. Prepare the Sabayon :
    1. Squeeze the lemons and mix the lemon zest into the juice. Create a double broiler, using a saucepan and a bowl, which is bigger than the saucepan/pot.
    2. Boil 300-400 ml of water in the saucepan. 
    3. Use the same bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolks well, until the mixture is smooth, say about a minute.
    4. Now place the bowl over the saucepan/pot, and using a large whisker, keep whisking the mixture for atleast 2 minutes, rotating the bowl in between for even heating. The eggs will become foamy and thickened.
    5. Add this stage add the lime juice into the egg mixture, 1/3rd at a time. Add 1/3rd, whisk for 2 minutes, and let the mixture thicken, then add the next, and so on. This whole process will take upto 10 minutes, the mixture will be light in color and must have thickened really well.
    6. Turn off the heat, leaving the bowl over the water, whisk in the butter a piece at a time. You will see the sabayon loosen a bit, but dont worry it will set as it cools.
    7. Taste the sabayon now, i found mine very sour here, so i added 150 mls of cream in there and it was so much better to my palette. 
    8. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart shells, and place the tart under the broiler, with the door open, for a minute or two. Remove from the oven, let it set for at least an hour before serving.

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I had some dough and a lot of lemon custard left with me. I rolled the dough really thin, and made some cute little heart / flower shaped cookies out of them, love them with a little lemon custard. 

I had got the lemons a day or 2 before aunty was coming over (remember the besan laddoos), so that whole week i couldn’t manage to sneak the time t make the tarts, but i was dreaming of it almost everyday, no kidding, i dreamt 4 variations of the tart shells and used to wake up with a tired and heavy head! But always with a smile! aah the side effects of baking! So i decided on making a almond lemon crust to with a lemon custard the Thomas Keller way! (Yeah for all that dreaming of the choco almond base and a savory base and what not, the husband wanted the simplest base and the almond base seemed most agreeable to both of us.)