Saturday, February 27, 2010

Welcoming Early Spring with Bright Meyer Lemon Tart



The official spring date is only three weeks away, and even though it has been all rain and cloudy in the past month here in San Jose, we finally get a little sunshine this weekend and a glimpse of Spring! Oh, how I miss the sun and the bright Saturday morning, my favorite time of the week. You know Spring is just around the corner when tulips start showing up everywhere, my favorite flower! I got to take my niece and my nephew to their Chinese school this Saturday morning at 9am. While I was a bit lazy driving up north on Saturday morning without having my coffee first, I was really enjoying the drive. I live in the south area, where you can see the mountains up close and in this time of the year, the mountains look very green, especially with all of the rain we've been having. I always have to take highway if I want to go everywhere and I always go pass a huge empty field which is now filled with yellow weeds, creating the most beautiful yellow carpet you'll ever see on a bed of bright green grass. You can also see cherry blossom tree in half and full blossom everywhere, lemon tree and orange tree are so common here in people's front and backyard.

I almost forgot how enjoyable and amazing it is the beauty around us, that we often take for granted. Little things that put a smile in your face, that make your heart filled with joy, and that brighten your day, just like this meyer lemon tart. My fridge is always full of lemons (meyer lemons in particular) this winter, and I don't even have a lemon tree. I got some from friends at church who have lemon tree in their backyard, from my coworkers, from everywhere that I don't have to worry about this particular citrus whenever I need it. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing them some justice this season; notice that I haven't made anything citrus-y this winter. I do have a long list of lemon desserts I want to make, but it's just so hard to find the time here and there, and if I do have the time, something else always come up last minute.




If there are little things that could bring joy for me, one of them is gotta be the smell of fresh-cut lemons in the kitchen, on Saturday morning when I don't have to rush things. The smell just can't be beaten by anything else, well maybe equally satisfying as the smell of fresh-sliced strawberries and peaches in the summer, but oh, it was so refreshing, nothing like lemon-scented dish soap or air freshener can ever compete with. The first thing that come up to my mind when it comes to lemons, it's Pierre Herme's lemon tart. It was almost exactly a year ago (one week shy) since I made this lemon tart here. Despite the not-so-pretty looking meringue decoration that I did, it tasted wonderful and I'm sure many of you agree with me that PH's lemon tart is indeed extraordinary.


I made the pate sucree two weeks before and I kept it safe in the freezer, thawed and baked just when I need it, a great time saver since the dough needs to be rested for a few hours after making and after rolling. The lemon cream is also pretty straight forward, you will need to whisk it constantly for about 10-15 minutes to prevent the eggs from curdling. After that, the blending of the butter that will make the curd the velvetiest and the smoothest cream ever.



I layered one of them with ganache underneath the lemon cream since I happen to have a little ganache in the fridge. This is the first time I ever paired lemon with chocolate and I'm excited to put this combination in another form!

I use a little more lemon juice than the previous one I made before, just because four lemons gave me this exact amount and I also increased the sugar a bit. Instead of topping it off with Italian meringue like what I did before, I simply pipe some whipped cream on top of it. I don't really prefer the added sweetness from the meringue and I much prefer whipped cream instead, but it all really depends on you. I also brushed some clear glaze on top of it, you can't really see it because of the lighting and the angle probably, but it made the tart shiny!



Have a blessed week! :)

Pierre Herme's Meyer Lemon Tart

Pate Sucree
yield: three 101/2-in crusts or four 8-in crusts

300g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
190g powdered sugar
60g ground almonds
1 vanilla bean, scrapped
2 eggs, room temperature
500g all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
  • Put the butter in a mixer bowl and cream until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment.
  • Add the sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla bean seeds. Mix until combined.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating the previous one before adding the next one (the dough might look curdled at this point but don't worry, it'll come together once you add the flour)
  • Combine the flour and salt. Add to the dough in about three addition. Mix until just it comes together. Do not overwork! Like Pierre said, "it's better to have lumps of butter rather than to have an overworked dough".
  • Divide the dough in the portions you need. Form each one into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight (you can also freeze the dough at this point and thaw it in the fridge overnight).
  • Remove one disk from the fridge, and roll it either between two sheets of parchment paper, or just well-floured surface. You need to move quickly though. You don't want the dough to be soft and overworked.
  • Line your tart pan with the dough and put it back in the fridge for at least 1-2 hrs to rest.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • When you're ready to bake, put a parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the bottom with either rice or beans.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Take the parchment paper and the beans/rice off, then continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes until it's golden brown.
  • Let cool in the ring.
Lemon Cream

4 eggs
175 g fresh Meyer lemon juice
225 g sugar
zest from about 3-4 lemons
300 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
  • Rub the zest with the sugar using your finger until the sugar is moistened with lemon oil.
  • On a double boiler, combine the sugar, eggs and juice .
  • Whisk/stir constantly until the mixture reaches 85-86 C.
  • Strain the mixture and let cool to about 55-60 C and put it in a blender (if you don't have a hand-held blender)
  • Add the butter a couple of pieces at a time, to make an emulsion. The mixture will lighten in color. Continue running the blender for a few minutes after all of the butter has been added to ensure the airy and light cream. Make sure stop and run the blender a few times to avoid over-heating.
  • Pour the mixture into prepared crust and refrigerate.

14 comments:

janice said...

Wow, your desserts are gorgeous! Did you take professional pastry classes somewhere?

I love Pierre Hermé, I'll have to try that recipe some time :)

Ozhan said...

Hi Bertha,
I just wanted o say you have a really lovely blog with very nice photos! You made me want to eat the whole tart all by myself!!
Greetings from the Kitchen of Oz

Jo said...

These tarts look absolutely delicious and lovely, and I do love the citrus taste.

Gala said...

Gorgeous amazing pictures, what a perfect spring opening!

Crissie said...

Saw this on food gawker. AMAZING!!! Can't wait to try!

Brisbane Baker said...

What beautiful tarts! I'm not really good with shortcrust pastry, but yours looks perfect!

Oh and congrats on being Foodgawker worthy!

I might just have to follow. Would be great if you did the same for me :)

www.brisbanebaker.blogspot.com

Venus ~ Vi said...

Love the way how you decorated the tarts with a sprinkle of cocoa powder - very nice touch!

Hmmm...did I see kumquats? I have been looking everywhere for them but no luck :,(

Bertha said...

Thank you guys!

Janice: no I didn't take any professional pastry class

Vi: LOL! there's no kumquat in the picture, I've never worked with them. But I saw it at Safeway just the other day, you might want to check it out :)

Passion Delight said...

Hi Bertha,

Love all your cakes and design. I live in San Jose also. I love to bake for my kids and I love the way how creative you are on all your desserts. How do you make the cake so round and small. Is it a mousse ring that you used? The chocolate is great. Know to be rude but can you tell me how you make the chocolate to look like that. Where do you get your supplies. Please do post recipes...thanks

Bertha said...

Passion Delight: Thanks for the compliment. To be honest, I'm somewhat confused on which cake you're referring to. If you're talking about this tart, I just used individual mini tart pan. Which chocolate are you talking about? is it the "L"? If yes, it's just writing chocolate and this post has a complete recipe. Please clarify if this is not what you're asking, or better yet, put the comment on the post that you're referring :)

Passion Delight said...

Hi Bertha,

Sorry for the confusion about my question :)

Jessiker said...

beautiful! I love how pretty this is, I'm sure it tasted amazing too. I love lemons so much, quite sure I would have enjoyed this dessert

Anonymous said...

Bertha, what is the white stuff on top on the lemon filling?

Bertha said...

Anonymous: I used whipped cream on this one, you can also use meringue.