lazy lemon tart

Evangeline sent me a photo this week of her brother’s meyer lemon tree in California, ripe lemons crowding every branch.  Oh, California.  As if year round farmers’ markets and sunny weather isn’t enough, now you have to go flaunting your meyer lemons too. 

To consol myself, I bought a stack of California meyer lemons from the grocery store.  It’s a little early for winter citrus, I know.  I should be baking pumpkin bread or apple crisp with Massachusetts produce instead, right? 

Okay, okay. 

Meyers are just hard to resist.  For anyone who’s never tried one, they are lemon’s sweeter cousin.  Thin skinned, and brightly fragrant, they remind me of a lemon crossed with a Clementine.  Most are still much too puckering to eat as is, but occasionally you’ll come across a meyer lemon actually sweet enough to peel and eat like an orange.  The sweetness makes them magic in desserts of any kind, but they are also great company on the savory side with seafood, sauces, pesto, and the like.

Today’s tart is one I first tired (and loved) last winter, taken from the Food 52 website.  This is the ultimate no-fuss dessert.  Perfect to keep up your sleeve this holiday season for last minute guests or office parties. 

The secret is using a whole lemon, skin, pith and all.  Crazy, right?  But trust me, it works.  You take this lemon and you toss it in the food processor with some butter, sugar, and eggs and whirl, whirl, whirl.  And that’s it.  You’re done.  Told you: zero fuss.  Pour the filling into a prepared tart shell (I gave my favorite simple recipe below) and bake it about 40 minutes.  Light, lush, and fragrant, no one will believe it took 5 minutes to put together.

Makes one 9 inch tart and serves 8.

One Year Ago: Dutch Gevuld Speculass (delicious gingerbread cookie with a chewy almond filling)

Want a more traditional, albeit more time consuming, lemon tart? Try this Simmer favorite.

For the Crust

Adapted from Dorrie Greenspan, via Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 stick + 1 tbsp unsalted butter (9 tbsp), very cold and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor.  Pulse until the butter is just cut into the dry ingredients – only about 30 seconds.  Add about three quarters of the beaten egg and pulse until the dough begins to come together.  Remove the lid to the food processor and test the dough by pressing together a small piece with your fingers – if it does not hold together easily, add the remaining egg and pulse again to combine. 

Place the dough in an ungreased 9 inch tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan using your fingers.  Make sure the dough comes to the top edge of the pan, or even a few millimeters above.  Freeze for 20 to 30 minutes or until very firm. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prick the chilled crust all over with a fork and bake 15 minutes until set and just starting to brown.  If the crust has bubbled up, prick again with a fork to deflate.  While the crust is baking, prepare the lemon filling. 

For the Meyer Lemon Filling

Adapted from Food 52

  • 1 meyer lemon (conventional lemons, I find, too bitter in this recipe)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Wash the lemon well and slice it thinly.  Remove any seeds and discard.  Place the lemon slices in the food processor with the remaining ingredients and puree until very well combined – no pieces of lemon should be visible. 

Bake the Tart:  Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell and bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees until set.  The top of the tart will be slightly browned.  Refrigerate the tart until fully chilled before serving – overnight or at least 2 hours.  Top with powdered sugar and serve!

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