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Lemon Curd Tart Recipe & Video

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This Lemon Curd Tart pairs a crisp yet sweet pastry crust with a creamy smooth lemon curd filling. Lemon Curd is actually a preserve and while you can buy it, I encourage you to make your own as it is easy to make and the flavor is far superior. Lemons, both the zest and juice, are the main ingredients in Lemon Curd, along with sugar, eggs, and butter. It is made by gently heating the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until thick and custard-like and then adding unsalted butter and lemon zest to smooth out the curd's flavor and consistency. What's great about Lemon Curd is that it can be made ahead of time, as it will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about a week or, if you are good at canning, it can be sealed into jars. 

The tangy flavor and creamy smooth texture of Lemon Curd is offset perfectly by the sweet flavor and crisp yet crumbly texture of the pastry crust. The crust does have to be prebaked and as always, make sure you prick the bottom of the crust before baking to prevent it from puffing up. The pastry is baked until it is completely dry and has turned light brown in color. After the pastry crust has cooled it is then ready to be filled with the Lemon Curd. Now, sometimes you may like to add a subtle almond flavor to this tart. This can be done by spreading a thin layer of finely ground almonds (about 1/2 cup (50 grams) over the baked and cooled crust before adding the lemon curd. And whether you enjoy it plain, or with whipped cream and fresh berries, it is a perfect dessert. For the picture I used a Wilton 1M piping tip to form the rosettes of cream.

A few points on making the Lemon Curd. This recipe cooks the curd over a saucepan of simmering water to help prevent the eggs from curdling. Problems can arise (i.e. curd not thickening) if the temperature of the 'simmering' water is too low. Unfortunately, on the stove we do not use exact temperatures like we do with ovens. So for clarification, "simmer" is defined as the point just short of a boil, that is, when bubbles begin to appear. If you may find that your curd is not thickening, go ahead and increase the temperature of the water in your saucepan.

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Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd:  In a stainless steel bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. 

Cook, whisking or stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes pale in color and quite thick (like a hollandaise sauce or sour cream) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C on a thermometer). This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool to room temperature before filling the pastry crust. Can be made and stored in the refrigerator for about a week.

Sweet Pastry Crust: In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)

Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable/flour cooking spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, evenly pat onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once the pastry shell has cooled, evenly fill with the lemon curd. The tart can be served immediately or covered and placed in the refrigerator until serving time. Serve plain or with softly whipped cream and fresh berries.

Serves 6 - 8

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Lemon Curd:

3 large eggs

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar

1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh (not bottled) lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon (4 grams) lemon zest(The yellow outer skin of the lemon)

Sweet Pastry Crust:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten


1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

2 tablespoons (25 grams) white sugar

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