Monday, July 4, 2011

Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate

There's not much that I love more than a good lemon dessert. I've always had more of a liking for citrus or more savory desserts than for true sweets. With its thin layer of dark chocolate, this recipe is the best of both worlds. I'll admit that I was skeptic about the combination at first, but it came out great. I needed a dessert with a "wow factor" for Father's Day, and I think I inherited my lemon affinity from my dad. When I was young, he always shared his lemon drop candies with me on long car rides. A lemon tart seemed like a natural way to go.

The tart was a huge hit. After sneaking a taste, my dad was so eager to dig in that he wouldn't let me do my usual fussing to get a good picture! I had to use a stock photo from the cookbook, which was less than ideal, although it said a lot for the tart itself.

The rundown:
  • Flavor/texture: The flavors in this tart were amazing! I was a bit worried since I had to use regular lemons (the sweeter Meyer variety are out of season here), but it turned out great. The chocolate was subtle and really enhanced the lemon curd. The curd itself was very silky and in all honestly, it's the best one I've ever made.
  • Difficulty: More time consuming than difficult. I did have a rough go of it with the crust at first, but that was because making butter-laden pastry in summer is often difficult.
  • Pros: Amazing flavor and it looked great, too!  It was a very impressive dessert. Both the chocolate and lemon lovers in the crowd were happy, which is hard to accomplish in a single dish.
  • Cons: Oh, the crust. I knew that the heat and humidity of summer really don't condone making a butter crust, but I was determined.  In order to get a perfect crust, some of the butter pieces should remain solid in the dough. When the pieces melt, they leave spaces and make the crust beautifully flaky.  To accomplish this, all of the ingredients need to be cold and you have to be very careful not to overwork it. It can be accomplished even during the summer, you just have to be more patient and chill the dough a couple of times during the process. When I figured that out, my crust was light and flaky. If your butter gets too warm or you overwork the dough during rolling (as I did), the butter dissolves into the flour and the crust will be very dense. Just be careful and you'll get it right. 
  • Misc.: The chocolate layer is very thin. Next time I would use three ounces instead of two. I also added a bit of superfine sugar and a splash of vanilla to the whipped cream, just because that's how I like it.
  • Repeat Performance: It's not something I'd make every day, but I can definitely see myself putting another one of these together for something/someone special.
Meyer Lemon Tart with a Layer of Chocolate
by Suzanne Goin
from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, 2005

For the pâte sucrée (makes enough for two crusts)1/4 cup heavy cream
2 extra-large egg yolks
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter
For the tart2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
A pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream

Make the pâte sucrée
Whisk the cream and egg yolks together in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter on medium speed until you have a coarse meal. Gradually add the cream and yolks and mix until just combined. Do not overwork the dough.

Transfer the dough to a large work surface and bring it together with your hands to incorporate completely. Divide the dough in half, shape into 1-inch-thick discs, and wrap one of them to freeze and use later.

If the dough is too soft, put in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up a little. If the dough is manageable, place it on a lightly floured work surface, sprinkle a little flour over the dough, and roll it out into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, flouring as necessary. Starting at one side, roll and wrap the dough around the rolling pin to pick it up. Unroll the dough over a 10-inch tart pan. Gently fit the dough loosely into the pan, lifting the edges and pressing the dough into the corners with your fingers. To remove the excess dough, roll the rolling pin lightly over the top of the tart pan for a nice clean edge, or work your way around the edge pinching off any excess dough with your fingers. Chill for 1 hour.

Make the tart:
Preheat the oven to 375°F

Take the tart pan with the pâte sucrée from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom with a fork and line it with a few opened and fanned-out coffee filters or a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights and bake 15 minutes, until set. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully lift out the paper and beans. Return the tart to the oven and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, until the crust is an even golden brown. Set aside on a rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Spread the chocolate evenly on the crust and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, until the chocolate has solidified completely.

While the crust is chilling, make the curd. Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, and lemon juice together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, alternating between a whisk and rubber spatula, until the lemon curd has thickened to the consistency of pastry cream and coats the back of the spatula.
Remove the lemon curd from the heat. Add the butter a little at a time, stirring to incorporate completely. Season with the salt. Let the curd cool about 8 minutes, and then strain it into the prepared tart shell. Chill the tart in the refrigerator.

Just before serving, whip the cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until it holds soft peaks. Cut the tart into six wedges, plate them, and serve with dollops of whipped cream.
Grab a fork and get to it!

Baked Lemon Tart


  1. I found you from the foodie blog roll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this Lemon Tart widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about Lemon Tart,thanks!

  2. Alisa,
    I added the widget, as suggested. Thanks for the shout out on Foodista!