When I first opened my copy of Baking: From My Home To Yours, I was immediately drawn to the recipe for The Most Extraordinary Lemon Tart. Put anything lemon in front of me, and I’ll be happy. VERY happy.
I had a little trouble with the lemon cream, but no matter. It turned out great and I can’t tell you how wonderful and silky it is. My husband said, “Oh…this is….this is….WOW. We need this. We need this to be part of our lives.” Or something along those lines.
Pierre Herme’s Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 8 servings
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
1 fully-baked 9-inch sweet dough tart shell (check out this post for a how-to)
Getting ready: 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.
1. 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.
2. 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. (Mine never went above 165 degrees F, which Dorie herself told me was okay–via comments on her blog.)
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. (I whisked for about 45 minutes!)
3.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.
(Sorry, no pics of the blender process. I couldn’t do the blender and the picture taking at the same time…)
4. 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.
5. 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.
Serving: The tart should be served cold, because it is a particular pleasure to have the cold cream melt in your mouth. (Um, yeah. I can totally agree with that statement.)
Storing: While you can make the lemon cream ahead (it will keep in the fridge for 4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months), once the tart is constructed, it’s best to eat it the day it is made.
Doing my own thing–
I piped some stabilized whipped cream on top of the tart. It did sort of cut the richness, which seems a little odd considering how rich cream is. I just didn’t have enough filling left after Fred and I kept eating it out of the bowl by the spoonful.
OH. MY. GOSH.
I haven’t even let my kids taste this. This is not for kids or neighbors or dinner guests. Unless you are nicer than I am. :)
My husband and I have almost eaten the entire thing.
I will definitely be making this again. And I may even try it with passion fruit concentrate. I get excited just thinking about making it again.
Note–it doesn’t get better as it sits. It was better the first and second days.
Mmm….passionfruit concentrate, has my tastebuds tingling just at the thoughts of it! Your tart looks fabulous dahlink!!! I would so have loved to try the lemon, but Todd hates lemon, so I did orange. It too tasted wonderful, even if it didn’t work out exactly as I had planned! Well done! I love the way your photos come out. They have a certain look to them, almost the same look that you get when you look at the pictures on the Pioneer Woman cooks. Would love to know your secret!
I just love the series of photos and your tart is just beautiful with all those little peaks of whipped cream, beautiful!
Your tart shell is absolutely perfect! And that luscious filling is making me drool here, Lindsey.
I’m going to send you an email about the comment you left on my blog. :)
Thanks, ladies! You are far too kind…
About the pics–it’s all the lens I use. It’s a 50mm f/1.8. I think the Pioneer Woman uses a 50mm f/1.4. It allows a lot of light to come in so you don’t have to use flash! And of course, I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t edit them a bit. :)
It looks absolutely gorgeous!
I absolutely love your pictures, and the addition of the whipped cream. Your tart looks beautiful!
Your stabilized whipping cream looks absolutely stunning! I love the pictures that show how you made it. Wonderful job!
Wow, beautiful pictures and everything looks extraordinary. Your crust standing alone looks delicious too!
Awww, your pics make me miss my tart. I was so foolish to share it. ;)
I like the peaks of whipped cream, it looks great. Chapeau!
Ulrike from Küchenlatein
I was going to make this on Friday until I realized that I don’t own a tart pan (insert sad face here).
Glad to know it is as delicious as it sounded!
It looks delicious! Great job!
wow! this looks so wonderful….
WOW!! Thanks for all the sweet comments!
Katie–I think you could get away with making it in a pie plate. The filling might be a little thicker is all–and I see no problem with that whatsoever. :)
I love your photo and the whipped cream…so fabulous. We loved this one as well!
Yours looks beautiful. I want to make it again when raspberries are in season here.
Your tart looks beautiful! I served it with cream, too…the perfect partner.
GORGEOUS! I’m definitely adding whipped cream next time!
We are total lemon lovers and this is definitely the dessert for us.
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! And my husband’s reaction was the same as yours – “this is so good, really, this is soooo good!” And now you have me thinking about passion fruit!
It’s just extraordinary watching you make this Linds. :)
Oh my…. I am salivating just reading, let alone the photos!!!!
your photographs are beautiful! what a lovely tart, love it sitting on that blue/white linen. the piped cream makes it look like a real treat!
Gosh, I love lemon. I love it that it’s great in sweet and savory dishes.
P.S. I am SO making those samoas this weekend.
P.P.S. Beautiful photos!
This looks so beautiful! I love the whipped cream topping and your pictures are gorgeous!
Oh Wow! Your tart looks just incredible with the cream piped on top! Just lovely!
OK, you have convinced me, I absolutely have to try the lemon. But not until I get a thermometer. Your tart looks fabulous!
This looks so delicious! I love the tart against the blue and white. I love lemon. Great blog!!
Gorgeous photos. I love every single one!
love the piping of cream on the tart… so pretty! :-)
Your tart is absolutely lovely. And I really enjoyed the pictures showing the whole process.
Your photos really are beautiful, and instructive. I’m excited that you’re using that lens – I have the same one! What I don’t have is a dSLR camera to put the lens on. :) It’s on backorder unfortunately. But I hope I can eventually get the same caliber of pictures that you’ve shown here.
Such a pretty tart – the whipped cream is a really nice touch.
All your pictures are fabulous! Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought
I love the idea of passion fruit concentrate. I just stocked up on this when I was in Seattle recently. Tell me how you’re going to make it!
Great photos too. Everthing looks so lovely.
Love the step by step pictures!
Mmmm… passionfruit – good idea! Love the piped cream on top!
Great step-by-step photos. Great work piping the whipped cream. Such a simple idea, but it really adds texture and personality.
Haha! Not enough filling for the tart – that is funny! I think the whipped cream certainly adds to the cuteness of it all. Lovely job!
What a perfect looking tart!
Wow, I loved it. You rock! http://uppeeastsidechronicle.blogspot.com/
passion fruit? oh my. i need to try that.
your tart is amazingly beautiful!
I can’t believe it could be that creamy with only eggs butter and lemon juice. What makes it so creamy it looks as if there is cream added.
Rose, the eggs, butter, and lemon juice create an emulsion. For lack of a better comparison, it’s like a sweet, lemony mayonnaise. Super, super creamy and rich. It’s the best lemon tart I’ve ever had in my life.
Thanks Lindsey but every lemon tart I’ve had is sooo eggy could I add cream instead of butter thanks
Thanks Lindsey but every lemon tart I’ve had I can taste is very eggy I would love to add cream is that possible? Thanks
I love lemon desserts, and this looks SO GOOD!!!
It’s absolutely delicious! Wish I could take the credit for the recipe! Pierre Herme is a genius!
I made this last year for Christmas and it was absolute perfection. I can’t wait to make it again this year!
Love to hear that, Becky!
This tart is sooooo delicious! Ive made it in the past. I wonder if the lemon cream could be piped and retain its shape if it’s not whisked after being in the fridge?