This Meyer lemon tart is inspired by one of my favorite desserts from Gerard Mulot in Paris. When I lived in Paris, during culinary school and my apprenticeship, I lived across the street from Gerard Mulot's patisserie on rue de Seine. Every day I would gaze at his window display, memorizing how each cake was created. The patisserie is one of the best patisseries in Paris.
Chef Mulot does beautiful things with creme citron: macaron, tarte au citron and another dessert called Le Harliquin. It's an individual dessert with a base of sable breton (a salted-butter shortbread cookie from Brittany France), topped with creme citron and topped again with a dome of more creme citron that has been lightened with whipped cream. One of my favorites, it's packed full of flavor--tart, sweet and buttery, creamy and crunchy.
My Meyer lemon tree is in full bloom, (I just picked 150 lemons from the tree, and it's still full of ripe lemons) I made this Meyer lemon tart similar to Le Harliquin, with both a crumbly shortbread crust and topped with little pearls of lightened lemon curd. The "lemon curd" in this recipe is more like the French creme citron, which has much more butter and eggs than its American counterpart. I hope you make it and enjoy it!
Meyer Lemon Tart with Lightened Lemon Cream
(makes 12 individual tarts or two 9-inch tarts)
For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (115 g) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (240 g) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 (40 g) egg yolks
For the Meyer lemon curd:
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) Meyer lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) (330 g) butter, room temperature and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups (375 g) sugar
For the lightened lemon cream:
3/4 cup (180 g) Meyer lemon curd
1 cup (220 ml) whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
Candied lemon peels for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 325ºF and very lightly grease 2 baking sheets
To make the crust:
Mix together in a stand mixer on low speed the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the mixture is the consistency of peas. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and stir together just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness. Using a cutter 5-inch in diameter, cut dough into circles. Place the cut circles into 3 ½- inch (90 cm) tart ring molds. Press the dough into the bottom corners and along the sides of the molds. Cut the excess dough off the top and form an even edge that rises just barely above the rim of the mold. Place onto baking sheet (6 should fit on one sheet). Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove from the refrigerator and bake for 18-20 minutes, until just lightly golden. Cool for 2 minutes, then remove the baked crust from the ring mold and place on a cooling rack. (Don’t let the crust cool completely or it will stick to the mold and the baking sheet.)
To make the Meyer lemon curd:
In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the lemon juice and butter to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, yolks, and sugar until the mixture has lightened in color. Once the lemon juice mixture boils slowly add a little of it into the egg mixture to temper the eggs. Once you’ve combined the two mixtures, pour it back into the saucepan and cook to 175ºF (82ºC), or until it coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly. Once the mixture has come to temperature, remove from the heat and cool completely, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until chilled. (Make sure all the steam has evaporated before putting the lemon curd into the refrigerator. This will prevent the mixture from becoming watery and help it to set up well.)
To make the lightened lemon cream:
Using 3/4 cup of the lemon curd, fold the whipped cream into it. You should first fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the lemon curd to lighten the lemon curd. In two more steps fold in the remaining whipped cream to achieve a light homogenous mixture.
Assembling the tart:
Fill each tart with the Meyer lemon curd so that it is even with the lip of the crust’s edge. Place the lightened lemon cream in a piping bag with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe a ring of balls in a circle on top of the lemon curd, at the outer edge of the tart. Pipe another ring of balls inside the first ring and one ball in the center. Garnish with 2 or 3 candied lemon peels and serve.