This lemon tart, made from fresh-squeezed lemon juice, tastes bright, sweet, and tart. Lemon tarts look chic and special without requiring a ton of hard work: just the silky, rich lemon curd and a tender butter crust.
The first step is to make the butter crust tart shell. This sweet shortbread dough, called pâte sucrée, doubles as a cookie and a tart shell, and bakes up golden brown. This can be made up to several days in advance and stored, wrapped, at room temperature.
Next, homemade lemon curd. Fresh lemon curd is a holy trinity of egg yolks, fresh lemon juice, and sugar. This then gets folded with good butter for a super-silky, indulgent custard that manages to still taste light.
Also check out: How to Make Perfect Pie Dough and Butter Cookie Tart Dough (Pâte Sucrée)
How to Make a Great Lemon Curd
Lemon curd does not require a lot of ingredients. It does, however, require the right technique. Lemon juice, zest, butter, and some sugar are brought to a boil, then tempered into egg yolks and sugar before being combined for a brief final cook on the stove to thicken it. Then, of course, more butter.
Some Lemon Tart With Butter Crust Troubleshooting Pointers and Tips:
- Whisk constantly, scraping the sides of the pot, to ensure that no “scrambled egg” bits form. If they do, no problem. You can strain the curd through a fine sieve and no one will. be the wiser.
- After the curd comes off the stove and gets poured into a shallow bowl, stir it gently over an ice bath to cool. You will know it is cool enough to stop stirring and store when steam no longer rises from the curd. If you do not cool the lemon curd, it will continue to cook.
- Store lemon curd by pressing plastic wrap directly onto the curd. This prevents a skin from forming.
- Make the tart dough first, even a day or several in advance. It requires a lot of chilling time, so you’ll want to get a head start on it.
This recipe makes one nine-inch tart, or about two dozen mini tarts. Serve dusted with powdered sugar, or topped with fresh fruit.
Did you make the lemon curd tart? Share how it went in the comments, below.
Lemon Curd Tart
- 1 recipe Butter Cookie Tart Dough (linked below)
- 8 egg yolks
- 11 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick + 3 tablespoons), divided in half
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided in half
- 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice, from about three to four lemons
- zest of two lemons
- Make the butter cookie tart shell first and store, wrapped, at room temperature until ready to fill with the lemon curd and decorate.
For the Lemon Curd
- In a medium-sized sauce pot, combine half the butter, half the sugar, the lemon juice, and zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar.
- When the lemon juice mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat. While whisking, gently pour about 1/3 of the lemon juice mixture into the yolks. PRO TIP: This process, called tempering, raises the temperature of the yolks without cooking them, preparing them to be better emulsified into the finished curd.
- Now, pour the tempered egg yolks back into the sauce pot with the rest of the lemon juice mixture. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens, about two or three minutes. It will boil in slow, big bubbles. You will be able to tell when it is done. PRO TIP: Be sure to scrape around the edges of the pot often while stirring to prevent "scrambled eggs" from forming on the rim. Don't worry if this happens, though. You will strain the curd.
- Remove the curd from the heat and fold in the rest of the butter.
- Strain the hot curd through a fine sieve into a clean, shallow bowl set over an ice bath or cool surface. You may need to use a spatula to press the curd through. Stir gently with a spatula until it cools to at least a warm room temperature. You should not be able to see steam coming off the curd.
To Assemble and Finish
- Pour the fresh curd immediately into the tart shell and gently smooth with an offset spatula, or cover and reserve for another use. Refrigerate. PRO TIP: If storing the lemon curd, make sure to place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a "skin" from forming.
- Serve the tart plain, or decorate with powdered sugar or fresh fruit. Serve cool or at room temperature, refrigerating to store.