On the 3rd of June, it is my cousin Thibaud’s birthday and as usual, we had bought plenty of meat to put on the BBQ, plenty of fresh fruits to watch our diet…. but no cakes for the occasion. Also, I have to say that our countryside is great for meat, cheese or other savory specialties but when it comes to cakes…. it is not that easy to find something appealing.
Then I remembered that he once told me that he likes lemon tart…. I quickly checked that my uncle Daniel did not used all the lemons for the oyster feast they made and I started it.
As I did not have a lot of eggs as well as a lot of time, I stuck to the chocolate variation that is always a great surprise if you prepare the tart properly. Which means that you properly cover the chocolate layer with lemon curd in order to surprise your guests.
It seems to have worked once again as my aunt Nadine asked me to hurry up and write the recipe on my blog!
Then here we are…. there is no more secrets for you!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SWEET PASTRY DOUGH (Makes 1 large tart or 8 individuals)*
- 250g of flour
- 5g of salt
- 100g of icing sugar
- 125g of butter cold and diced
- 1 egg whisked
- Plain flour to roll out the dough
- Iced water if necessary
*To make your pastry more original, you can add spices or flavor to it. For example, I add a tbsp of poppy seeds, a gratted lemon zest, a tsp of ginger, cinnamon or sometimes I put only 180g of flour and 70g of almond powder. It will make the difference….!
By hand: Place the flour, icing sugar, salt and cold diced butter in a bowl and start bringing the ingredients together until they form a light bread crumb consistency. Now, add the egg and combine completely. Add a little water if the dough is to dry. Form a ball with the pastry and wrap it in cling film. Let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. This freezes beautifully.
With a Magimix: Sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into the bowl of a food processor and add the cold diced butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg and add to the pastry mixture and stir well to bring together, adding a little more iced water if necessary. Bring the pastry together into a flat disc, wrap it with cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
Once the pastry is firm enough to roll out, sift a little flour on a clean surface and on your rolling pin and start rolling out your dough until it is 3-4mm thick. As the dough is very fragile, you can either fold it from the center into 4 like a “crepe” or roll it gently on your rolling pin and unroll it on top of the pastry case.
Once it is on top of your pastry case, press gently towards the bottom of the case so that the dough perfectly fits to the pastry case. Remove the excess of dough using a sharp knife around the edges of the case or simply roll once the rolling pin on top of the case. The excess will fall in a very clean way.
In a preheated oven (200°) bake the pastry case blind for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove and let it cool down on a rack.
** As usual, if you are in a hurry, you can use a ready to roll sweet pastry, it will save you a little time. You’ll just have to go straight to the baking instruction.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE LEMON CURD
- 240g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 lemon zest
- 16cl lemon juice
- 300g butter
Whisk together the sugar and the eggs, add the lemon juice and zest. Cook in a bain-marie until it gets a nice thick consistency (about 40 min).
Turn off the fire and add the butter to the mix. Let it cool down then pour it in the baked pastry.
To make it smoother, you can mix it with a hand blender.
If you prepare it in advance, cover it with cling film to avoid it from getting a nasty crust on top.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE MERINGUE
- 3 egg whites
- 150g of caster sugar
- 7cl of water for the method 2
METHOD 1 with uncooked sugar… the easy one
Pour the egg whites in the bowl of the Kitchen Aid and start whisking until it gets foamy then add half of the sugar and keep on whisking. When it gets thick, add the remaining sugar and keep on whisking until it forms soft peak. The meringue is shiny and firm.
METHOD 2 with cooked sugar
Pour the sugar and water in a pan and place it on a medium fire. Plunge a thermometer in the pan and keep an eye on it. Once the syrup starts to boil and reaches 117°, take the pan off the fire and plunge its bottom in cold water to stop the syrup from cooking further. You may have to brush the edges of your pan with a pastry brush if some sugar grains stick to it.
Start to whisk the egg whites until it gets firm then pour slowly the syrup on the edges of the bowl while it’s still whisking on a medium speed. The meringue will get a shiny and silky appearance. Keep on whisking til the meringue completely cools down.
With a spatula or a piping bag, pour some of the meringue on top of the lemon tartlets.
Use a torch to create the nice burnt aspect on the surface of the meringue. Alternatively you can place it under the grill for a very short time (depending on the power of your grill it may take a few seconds til 2-3 minutes).
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHOCOLATE VARIATION
- 150g of dark chocolate
- 60g of butter or double cream
METHOD FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE
In a bain-marie, melt the butter or cream and chocolate together.
As it is still hot, cover the bottom of your baked pastry case with it and let it cool down.
Then pour the lemon curd on top of it with a spatula and put it back in the fridge until it is time to serve it.
Most of the time, I do not put meringue on top as the combination of lemon and chocolate is really great just like that.