When Brett and I started dating over a year ago, I became obsessed with training him to respect dessert. Something he and my mom have in common: for them, dessert is take-or-leave, never exceeding once a day, and preferably citrus. I've made permutations on lemon layer cake, lemon shortbread bars, a pretty handsome lemon-marbled cheesecake, but this tart from Gourmet's May 2008 "Cooking Vacations" is hands-down the shit. Top with raspberries, as here, or blackberries (even better), whatever's 2 for $5.
The magazine (which credits the original recipe to Rosa Jackson @ Les Petits Farcis) writes, start to finish, 4 hours. Perfect to make in the morning, anticipating dinner.
Adapted from Gourmet, May 2008.
Equipment: 9" round tart pan with removable bottom, food processor.
4 tbsps almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of fine sea or kosher salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 large egg yolks
6+ tbsps fruity olive oil*
*They write, "preferably French." I use Meijer's organic mild oil. Also, the original recipe calls for half as much dough, but trusty reader reviews convinced me to make double, and the proportion is exactly right.
3 large lemons (or, a small bag of Meyer lemons and 1-2 regulars)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps cornstarch
2 whole large eggs + 2 large yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsps of the same olive oil as above
1. To toast the almonds: arrange in a shallow pan, bake @ 350 degrees until golden and fragrant, 5-10 mins.
2. Once almonds are cool, pulse to a fine powder in the processor. Add flour, sugar, and salt; pulse to integrate. Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Notes: To cube butter, I like to slice a stick along the long side, flip and slice the same way, and then make evenly spaced perpendicular cuts. Then I put the cut-up stick (still on its paper) back in the fridge to re-chill. Also, with a crust like this, avoid overprocessing - some small butter lumps are okay in the "course meal" stage, as they'll expand and get flaky delicious.
3. Add egg yolk and oil (one tbsp at a time) and pulse until a soft, just-blended dough is formed. For similar doughs, you can pinch a bit between your fingers and see that it sticks. Spread dough evenly over the bottom and up side of the pan - this step takes me awhile, but it's worth it. Try doing the bottom first, then pressing dough up beyond the edges and carefully trimming them off with a knife or rolling pin. Chill the dough in the bottom of your fridge, uncovered, until very firm. This prevents shrinking once it's baked. While the dough's chilling, you can preheat your oven to 425, rack in the middle (so rarely does it leave the middle).
4. Bake your tart shell until golden brown all over, about 13 mins. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
5. While it's cooling (or you could do this while it's chilling/baking), grate enough zest to measure 2-3 tbsps, and squeeze enough juice to measure 3/4 cup. The curd tastes a little sweeter and slightly more complex with Meyer lemons, since they're nice and sweet. You can add a little bit of orange juice to regular lemon juice for a similar effect? I've never tried that but imagine so.
6. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks, bringing to a strong simmer, just under a boil, whisking constantly. This curd is crazy simple but can boil suddenly, cooking the eggs (unsightly egg curd!) and creating craters of blistering curd, which hurts. So whisk and watch. Let it thicken and get glossy, about 2 minutes at its highest heat.
7. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and olive oil until smooth. If you do have cooked egg bits, strain them out. To assemble, simply pour the curd into the cooled shell and chill 2-4 hours, until set.
You'd be surprised how easily this tart comes together. The product: rich crust offset by truly tangy curd, crowned with natural sweetness; I've witnessed a self-proclaimed slave to cream sauce (not you, Steven) exalt this over flourless chocolate cake.