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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.

Lemon Cream Tartlets, adapted from Pierre Herme’s Desserts and Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:

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
4 eggs
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…!

Because of all the sweetness and love surrounding this post, it is also my entry to this month SHF, hosted by Jasmine.

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Sam February 16, 2007 um 5:07 am

there is also a Pierre Herme lemon tart recipe on "The Cook’s Book" which is my favourite cookbook. I have made it sucessfully a few times and I love it. If there is ever extra lemon filling left over I freeze it and use it as lemon curd later = delicious.

Anonymous February 16, 2007 um 9:44 am

This is definitely on my list to try – it looks amazing! Beautiful photos.. .

Brilynn February 16, 2007 um 3:24 pm

I’m just waiting for the right occasion to make this tart! Like today…

Freya February 16, 2007 um 6:23 pm

This looks perfect! What a wonderful combination too!

Anonymous February 16, 2007 um 10:19 pm

Hi Helene!
Oh my – first the blueberries, and now the lemon… your pies and tarts are calling me… better jotting this recipe down NOW!

MyKitchenInHalfCups February 16, 2007 um 11:22 pm

Divine I am sure. It’s one I’ve been eyeing also. I do seem to be going thru a lot of butter since this blog thing started.

Anonymous February 17, 2007 um 2:03 am

Ces petites tartelettes à la saveur légèrement acidulée me font bien rêver

m3rni3 February 17, 2007 um 10:06 am

Hi Helene

Those tarts look divine .. slurp!

I will try making them some time. Thanks for sharing!


Susan from Food Blogga February 17, 2007 um 2:45 pm

Hi Helene! I just discovered your site, and I think I’m in love. Your photos and recipes are scrumptious.

Anonymous February 17, 2007 um 8:28 pm

These look delicious. Any thing to do with lemons or tarts (?) gets my vote!

Anonymous February 18, 2007 um 12:15 am

I tried the PH lemon cream tart from Dorie Greenspan’s "Baking…" as well, and agree that it was fantastic. But no lemon tart I’ve ever had can top the "Whole-Lemon Tart" in Dorie’s "Paris Sweets." If you haven’t tried it, you must(!), especially if you love lemon and lemon desserts enough to warrant buying a whole cookbook full.

Alpineberry Mary February 18, 2007 um 1:07 am

My meyer lemon tree is overflowing with fruit right now and this tart would be a perfect use for them.

Anonymous February 18, 2007 um 1:15 am

Oh yes I have made a similar tart too, from The Cook’s Book too and love it! Yum! Looks delicious

Hélène (Cannes) February 18, 2007 um 10:17 pm

La pâtisserie de Pierre Hermé est toujours assez remarquable. je ne connais pas sa tarte au citron, mais celles que tu as faites sont tout à fait somptueuses !

Linda February 19, 2007 um 3:07 pm

lovely — and i love your photography. you are really talented. this is a fantastic blog — glad to finally find you 🙂

Steph October 20, 2007 um 5:26 am

I’ve not ever made a lemon tart before but after seeing these pictures I decided to go it a go. The cream is to die for and the pie crust, although very crumbly to mould is going to go down a treat at a family BBQ tomorrow.

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