Pierre Herme, Lemon Tart, My Valentine
No, Pierre Herme was not my Valentine yesterday (not my type), and no he did not serve us in person…but yes there was Herme on the menu for my sweet love. I worked late last night training clients, (funny how women want to sweat and lift weights a few hours before eating chocolate…me I’d rather pop the Champagne open!), so we ordered our favorite Indian foods and relaxed.
The connection with P. Herme in all this? While making scones last week, I flipped Dorie’s book open to "zee" famous Lemon Tart prepared by the French master. Her crust, his lemon cream…now if that does not scream "success" I don’t know what does!
I have made lemon or citrus curds and lemon tarts and other lemony sweets before but I had been putting this one off mainly because of the 2 sticks of butter it called for. After Carol declared Pierre Heme’s Tarte au Citron to be best she tried around Paris, Valentine’s Day around the corner and our mutual love for citrus, I had plenty of excuses (or opportunities) to try my hand at it. The result? It is by far the best lemon cream tart I have ever had, thank you Pierre! The flavor and intensity of the cream develop over a couple of days so this makes it a breeze for the cook to prepare ahead of time, but they are best assembled at the last minute.
Makes about a dozen
For the tart shells:
1 stick plus 1 Tb. butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
In a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse again. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
Roll between sheets of plastic wrap and cut out circles larger than your tart shells, fit the dough into the molds and cut out the excess. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Because the dough has a tendency to puff up, I take the shells out halfway through the baking process and pat the bottoms flat with the back of a spoon.
For the lemon cream:
1 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 sticks butter, cut into 1 inch pieces, softened
Make a water bath by putting a saucepan of water over heat to simmer and placing a metal bowl over, without the bottom touching the water. Rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers and add to the metal bowl. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.
Cook the mixture over the water bath, whisking constantly until the cream reaches 180 degrees. It can take up to 10 minutes.
Once the cream reaches 180 (your whisk will leave ribbon tracks in the cream),remove the cream off the heat and put it into a blender. Let the cream cool to 140.
Add in the butter and process until perfectly smooth.
Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the tarts by spooning the cream into the refrigerated tart shells, and decorate to your liking. I added pieces of candied ginger. You know, all the seduction amunitions: cream, butter, sugar, ginger…!