Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tarte au citron

Tarte au Citron

You may not know it, since it has become so ubiquitous in bistrots around the world, but lemon tart is a typical Nicois dish. In Nicois dialect, it is called tourta de limoun and is usually made with lemons from Menton (you remember the place where I had a fantastic lunch at Mirazur? It's there and Mauro Colagreco, by the way, is lucky enough to have in his restaurant backyard a beautiful garden with lemon trees).

Lemons have been cultivated in the region since Ancient times and thrive thanks to the forgiving climate. The fruit is believed to have been imported by the Greeks after they founded the city of Nice around 350 BC.

But let's get back to the recipe. There are many ways to prepare this dessert but Thomas Keller's recipe is in my opinion the best as it produces a particularly light result. In addition, the pine nut crust tastes sweeter and its crumbly texture is less filling than a traditional pate sucree. Instead of Menton lemons that are not available in the US, I adopted a more American approach by using Meyer lemons. Feel free to use local citrus if you can.

Pine nut crust (makes dough for 3 tarts):

2 cups pine nuts
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups flour
8 ounces butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until pureed. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand or with a food processor. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Keep one and freeze the other two after wrapping them in plastic paper.

Lemon tart (serves 6):

1/3 pine nut crust
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 ounces cold butter cut into 6 pieces

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch flutted tart pan with a removable bottom (I use a 12-inch but you may prefer a thicker dough). Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Prepare the sabayon while the crust is cooling. Mix the eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl until this mixture is smooth. Set the bowl above a pot of boiling water. Whisk the mixture until thickened. Add 1/3 of the lemon juice. Whisk until thick. Add another 1/3 of lemon juice. Whisk until thick. Add the remaining lemon juice and whisk until thick again.

Turn off the heat and whisk the butter in the sabayon one piece at a time. Pour the sabayon into the crust. Place the pan under the broiler until brown.


Sylvia said...

What a wonderful blog !! I find you in Jenn´s blogroll. This tart looks delicious and the crust with pinolli sounds divine for me.

Laurent said...


Thanks for stopping by. I'm really happy you liked the blog.

Pine nuts do indeed make a significant difference as far as the tart crust is concerned. I hope you will try this recipe and provide me with some feedback on the result.

Erin said...

This lemon tart looks completely fabulous. I have made a very similar tart with almond in the crust, so perhaps next time I will try the pine nuts. Gorgeous photo too!

Laurent said...

Hi Erin,

I hope you'll try the recipe, like it and let me know about the outcome.