Colorful curd + concentrated flavor + classic culinary technique = spectacular!
Beautifully bright yellow lemon curd in a lemon-scented shortbread crust is an elegant and refreshing finish to any meal. The shortbread crust is blind baked before the filling is added, since the whole tart only bakes for five minutes to set the curd. Paper-thin lemon slices and fresh berries are the ideal garnish for a slender slice of this classic dessert.
Equipment: large mixing bowls; dry measuring cups; wet measuring cup; measuring spoons; cutting board; paring or chef’s knife; rubber spatula; wooden spoon; food processor (optional); pie weights or dried beans; saucepan; strainer or chinois; tart pan (with removable bottom)
Pastry Ingredients: 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature, cubed ½ cup confectioner’s sugar 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4-5 lemons) 10 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces 1 cup granulated sugar, divided 3 large eggs 2 large egg yolks
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
ILOC tip: zest the lemons for the shortbread dough you will juice for the curd.
2. For the crust, mix all the ingredients in a food processor, pulsing every few seconds, until well combined. Alternatively, use your fingers or a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the flour and sugar. Form the dough into a disc and refrigerate until chilled enough to roll, at least 2 hours. Roll a flat disc large enough to fit in an 8- or 9-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the pan.
ILOC tip: if you don't want to wait to chill the dough or bother with this step, you may instead press the dough into the pan.
3. Once the tart pan is lined in dough, cover with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake the tart shell for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the parchment paper and beans, and set the tart pan aside.
4. For the filling, heat the lemon juice, butter and ¾ cup sugar over low heat in a pot until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a gentle simmer, about 2 minutes.
Using a whisk, beat the eggs, egg yolk, and remaining ¼ cup sugar until the mixture is pale and light yellow, about 3-4 minutes. Slowly pour some of the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper. Beat until blended and fluffy. Return this mixture to the pot with the remaining lemon juice mixture. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until the mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes.
5. Pass the lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer or chinois to collect any undesirable scrambled egg pieces. Transfer the strained mixture to a bowl and chill immediately (either over an ice bath or in the refrigerator). Once cool, spoon the curd into the pastry shell.
6. Return the tart to the 375°F oven and bake for about 5 minutes to set the filling without coloring it. Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool. Garnish, if desired. Refrigerate the tart until the filling is firm.
7. Remove the tart from the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before serving.