Meet Jess O'Toole, the writer and photographer behind the stunning food blog La Domestique. Every Tuesday on her blog, Jess shares her ten favorite ways to cook with her ingredient of the week. In this column, Jess expands on one of those ten techniques.
This week: Jess features silky lemon curd in a rustic dessert.
Photos by Jessica O'Toole
The bright, tart flavor of lemons is most welcome during spring, when our palates have been dulled by winter comfort food. Sweet, buttery lemon curd is the pantry ingredient of the week at La Domestique. Lemon curd is a spread made by combining eggs, sugar, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Heat the mixture gently on the stovetop for a few minutes, constantly stirring, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Lemon curd, like Nutella, is delicious spread over just about anything, but my favorite way to cook with lemon curd during spring is as a filling for a lemon tart.
I’ve baked Martha Stewart’s Rustic Meyer Lemon Tart with regular lemons and the Meyer variety -- both were very good. The sweet short crust comes together quickly and bakes into a flaky layer, serving as the perfect foil for the smooth curd filling. Bake the tart in a pan with a removable bottom, or if you’re like me and don’t have one, a ceramic dish works just fine. This recipe is based on Lindsey Remolif Shere’s lemon tart from the Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook. Reading Lindsey’s notes, I learned that cornstarch is included so that the tart caramelizes on top, forming dark-brown spots. Keep an eye on the tart while it bakes in the oven, and feel free to turn down the temperature if it’s getting too caramelized. This caramelization is what makes the tart rustic, but Lindsey suggests omitting the cornstarch and baking the tart just long enough to set the filling (only 20 minutes), if you prefer a "smooth, shiny yellow tart."
I love the easygoing nature of a simple lemon tart. Keep the baked lemon tart in the fridge for up to three days, and it’s still delicious. Make the curd filling ahead of time and refrigerate it for a week or more before baking it in the tart shell. The lemon tart travels well and is perfect for spring picnics or potlucks. Spring is the time to get out the tart pan and enjoy fresh, fruit-based desserts, and this sweet-tart lemon curd-filled dessert is a great recipe to start with.
Rustic Meyer Lemon Tart
For the Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Lemon Curd
2 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest, plus 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
As a creamy tart filling is just one of the ten ways Jess likes to enjoy lemon curd. See the other nine: 10 Ways Tuesday: Lemon Curd.
Like this post? See Jess' topic from last week: Hard-Boiled Quail Eggs with Citrus Salt.
Jess writes the blog La Domestique, a site dedicated to cooking in the moment with ingredients from the pantry and garden.