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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Recipe: Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)

Recipe: Lemon Tart

Tarte au Citron

Lemon Tart

Life didn't give me lemons, but I wish it had...

Earlier this week, I posted a much sought after recipe for Gingersnaps, part of the Unit 1 Syllabus for the Pastry Arts Program at The International Culinary Center. Hopefully you're enjoying them as much as I did (after all, I did make three additional batches at home).

Of the myriad cookies and tarts from the last month, one other recipe prompted similar cries of "Yes, please!" and "OMG!" - the Lemon Tartlets.

This recipe appears courtesy of The International Culinary Center and can be found in "The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts"

Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron):

Yield: One 8"/9" Tart or Four 4" Tartlets

  • Tart Dough - (Link to Stand Alone Recipe)
  • Lemon Curd - Recipe Follows
  • Candied Lemon Peels - Recipe Follows
  • Swiss Meringue - Recipe Follows

Chef’s note: The tart dough, lemon curd, and candied lemon peels can all be made up to three days in advance and assembled shortly before serving. Once the tarts are assembled, they should be consumed that day.


1. Roll out the tart dough into a 10" circle of approximately 1/8" thickness.

2. Line an 8" or 9" tart ring (or four 4" tartlet rings) with dough and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Chef’s note: Chilling the dough allows some of the gluten bonds that are formed during the rolling process to relax, improving the texture of the dough when baked. 

3. Blind bake the chilled shell at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the shell is dry in appearance and lightly brown. Allow the shell to cool at room temperature.

4. Using a small offset spatula, fill the shell(s) with lemon curd, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top.

5. Pipe the Swiss Meringue in a decorative pattern on top of the tart and use a culinary torch to lightly brown the meringue. Garnish with candied lemon peels.

Chef’s note: A classic French tart will only include the piped meringue around the edge of the tart. Slathering the tart with a full layer of meringue is a decidedly American approach.

Lemon Tartlets

Lemon Curd (Appareil a Tarte au Citron):

YieldAbout 575g: Enough curd for One 8"/9" Tart or Four 4" Tartlets

  • White Granulated Sugar: 150g (0.75 Cup)
  • Eggs: 3 Count
  • Butter: 170g (3/4 Cup / 1.5 Sticks)
  • Lemon, juice: 90g (3/8 Cup)
  • Lemon, zested: 4 Count
  • Gelatin (Optional): 1 Sheet


1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, eggs and cubed butter in a bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water and cook the mixture over low to moderate heat, whisking occasionally to ensure even cooking.

2. Continue to cook the curd until it resembles the consistency of hollandaise sauce and naps a spoon: the curd should be thick enough to coat a spoon, and a finger drawn along the back of the spoon should leave a distinct mark that holds its shape.

3. If you are using the curd for a pie, squeeze any excess water from the bloomed gelatin sheet and add it to the warm curd, stirring until dissolved. Strain the entire mixture to remove any zest, pulp, curdled egg or undissolved gelatin.

Chef’s note: To bloom a gelatin sheet, place it in cold water for five minutes. Before adding the gelatin to the curd, squeeze out any excess water. Adding gelatin will create a more stable curd that is better able to hold its shape when used in a pie that will be sliced. However, gelatin is an animal product and may not be desirable for some cooks.

4. Cool the curd wrapped in plastic for up to four days in the refrigerator. It is important for the plastic wrap to rest directly on the curd, otherwise a skin will form where the curd is exposed to the air. 

Candied Lemon Peel (Confit de Citron):

  • Lemon, peeled and thinly sliced: 2 Count
  • Water: 500ml
  • White Granulated Sugar: 400g
  • Corn Syrup: 200mL


1. Using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler, cut large, straight pieces of lemon peel, being careful to avoid any of the bitter, white pith. Trim any remaining white pith from the peel. Julienne the peel (i.e. cut it into 1/16" slices of equal length).

2. Blanch the lemon peels: place the peels in a saucepan of cold water and bring it to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, strain out the lemon peels and repeat the process for a total of four blanches.

Chef’s note: The lemon peel is where you'll find most of the lemon's flavor. But the oils in the peel are also very bitter. The blanching process removes much of the harshness in the lemon peel without destroying all of the lemon flavor.

3. Combine the water, white granulated sugar and corn syrup in a large pot. Add the blanched lemon peels and bring the mix to a low simmer and cook until the peels are translucent and tender. Dry the peels on a cooling rack.

Chef’s note: Adding corn syrup to the mixture inhibits the crystallization of white granulated sugar (sucrose). 

Candied Lemon Peels

Swiss Meringue:

  • White Granulated Sugar: 125g (5/8 Cup)
  • Egg Whites: 100g


1. Combine the sugar and egg whites in a large mixing bowl. 

2. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water. While whisking, heat the mixture until it reads 130 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer. The meringue will feel soft to touch with no remaining granules of sugar.

3. Continue vigorously whisking the meringue (or transfer the meringue to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on medium speed) until the meringue cools and holds firm peaks.

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