french lemon tart with a chocolate bottom

This tart was inspired by a recipe I saw in Sunday Suppers at Lucques, by Suzanne Goin. Goin makes her tart with a more traditional lemon curd, but I opted for a French style lemon cream, which is more lush and buttery, and especially nice with the chocolate. Chocolate and lemon may seem like an unusual combination, but good dark chocolate often has citrus-y elements to its flavor, so I find that they play well off one another. If chocolate and lemon’s not for you, or if you want to simplify this tart, just omit the chocolate ganache and garnish it with some fresh berries. Blackberries and some orange zest make a pretty plate. Or, if you want to go super simple, skip everything except the lemon cream and just serve it in small bowls topped with some berries, chocolate shavings, or some crumbled gingersnap cookies. This cream is also unbelievable served on top of biscuits for brunch.

The last time I made this tart, I made a double batch to make one large 9 inch tart along with 12 little tartlettes, which I baked in small brioche tins. The brioche tins make little cupcake looking tarts, but any little tart tins will work.

This recipe is in grams. See here for information on scales and conversion.

For the Almond Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Eric Keyser’s Tarts; Sweet and Savory

150g butter, softened
30g granulated sugar
30g finely ground blanched almonds or store bought almond flour/meal (try Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
250g pastry flour (I’ve used all purpose in a pinch: the crust still bakes up nicely, it’s just not quite as tender.)

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, almonds, and salt and mix until well incorporated. Add the egg and again mix until well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and then add the flour and mix until a dough is formed. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Wrap one well in saran wrap and freeze for future use. Pat the other into a round patty and roll to approximately ¼ inch thickness on a well floured surface. (I don’t find it necessary to chill this dough before rolling it, but you can chill 2 hours or overnight. If overnight, let the dough stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before you roll it.) Carefully transfer the rolled dough to a tart tin and press it into the pan. Using a small knife or your fingers, trim the dough so it sits evenly with the top of the pan. This dough is very forgiving, so just press together any tears and/or fill in holes with scrap pieces. Chill the prepared tart shell in the fridge for 1 hr or in the freezer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once chilled, poke several small holes in the bottom of the crust using a fork. Line the tart shell with parchment paper filled with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Be careful to push the beans all the way to the edge of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the parchment paper lining and bake an additional 15-20 min until golden brown. If you’re making tartlettes, reduce the total baking time by 15 minutes or more depending on the size of your tart tins. Remove from the oven and let cool.

For the Lemon Cream
Adapted from Tartine by by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson

155g freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
170g granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
225g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature

Combine all ingredients except the butter in a double boiler and whisk constantly over simmering water until thick. (Make your own double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a small sauce pan with 2-3 inches of water in the bottom.) If you don’t whisk, you run the risk of cooking your eggs and having lumpy cream.
Once thickened, remove the cream from the heat and let cool until you can comfortably put a finger in it for 10 seconds. It should still be warm to the touch, just not hot. Transfer the cream to the bowl of a food processor. With the blade running, add the butter very slowly. Allow each piece of butter to incorporate before adding more. Remove the cream from the food processor and chill until ready to use.

For the Chocolate Ganache
100g dark chocolate (I used sharffenberger 62%)
50g heavy cream

For the Whipped Cream
225g heavy cream
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the Chocolate Ganache: Combine the chocolate and the cream over a double boiler and mix until well combined. Set aside in a warm place until ready to use.

 Make the Whipped Cream: Using the whisk attachment of a standing mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the sugar and vanilla and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 Assembling the Tart: Spread the ganache over the bottom of the tart shell. Refridgerate until firm (10 min), and then spread the lemon cream on top of the ganache. Top with the whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings/curls!

 How to Make Chocolate Curls: Start with the biggest block of chocolate you have on hand. If it’s summer or your house it particularly warm, use the chocolate as it is. But, if your house is like my house in the winter (cold), microwave the chocolate for 5-10 seconds first. Place the chocolate on a non-slip surface (try a damp towel or use a sil pat). Using a large chef’s knife or a bench scraper, slowly push the knife across the surface of the chocolate away from you. You should see curls forming. If the chocolate seems too brittle and you’re getting little shaving instead of curls, microwave it for a few more seconds. If you’re getting big shards instead of curls, adjust the angle of your knife so that the blade is more parallel with the chocolate.

  1. Great work keep it coming

  2. All I have to say is – IS THIS LEGAL? YUM… and I bought the brioche tins large and small this summer in Paris and have not thought of using them with pasties… DAH!
    Brilliant. I love finding others thinking… that makes life so much easier for me.

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