Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lemon Tarts

Tarte Aux Citron

I recently purchased two really great cook books; Desserts by Pierre Herme and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French CookingI'm a huge fan of both chefs. 

I'm very new to Julia Child, I hadn't actually heard of her until this year. I grew up in the U.K and she's not really known there, but it's never too late to fall in love with Julia. I love everything about her style of cooking and of course I absolutely loved the movie from this year Julie & Julia. I saw it twice! 

I hadn't made any desserts from either book, so I decided to make a lemon tart combining both books for the recipe. I used Julia Child's pâte sablée (sugar crust) for the tart shell and Pierre Hermé's delicious lemon cream.
For the Pâte Sablée:
(makes one 9 inch tart, I used half the recipe for 4 small tarts)

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3-7 tablespoons granulated white sugar (I used 4 tbsp)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add the flour, sugar, butter and baking powder into a mixing bowl and rub the ingredients together with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs and is starting to hold together.

Blend in the beaten egg with water and vanilla and knead the dough on a floured surface.

Form the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours until firm (or over night).

Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

When the dough is fully chilled, place it on a floured surface and allow to warm slightly until it can be easily rolled out.

Roll the dough very flat and thin using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. Draw circles in the dough that are big enough to fit in each tart mold.

Place each circle of dough into each of the tart molds pressing and fitting it in neatly.

Prick the shells all over with a knife to stop the tarts from puffing up.

Bake the tart shells in the oven for about 8 minutes until golden.

When the tart shells are done, place them on a cooling rack to cool.

For the Lemon Cream:
(I made half of this)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons of softened butter (10oz)

Add the sugar and lemon zest into a bowl that fits over a saucepan. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together.

Whisk in the eggs and then the lemon juice.

Heat a saucepan half full of water until simmering on a medium heat.

Place the bowl on top of the pan and begin to whisk the lemony mixture to cook the eggs through without letting them curdle. (don't let the bowl touch the water).

Whisk quite briskly to thicken the cream.

At first it will become very foamy, then the bubbles will get larger and it will begin to thicken.

Whisk until the cream reaches 180F.

When the cream is done, remove the bowl from the heat and strain the cream into a clean bowl that has been chilled in the fridge.

Let the cream cool down to 140F. (Should look like the top right picture above.)

With a hand held electric whisk, beat the cream on full speed, slowly adding pieces of the softened butter.

Beat until the lemon cream is thick and smooth.

Fill the tart shells with lemon cream and refrigerate (or refrigerate the lemon cream until you are ready to fill the tart shells- you will need to whisk the cream again to smooth it out).

These have become my favorite lemon tarts in the world!


  1. Thanks for visitng my blog. This looks so good I can't stand it - love the lemon stuff. I grew up watching Julia Child with my Mom and just love her - can'tt waitt to see the movvie. And your photos are just gorgoeous!

  2. very nice! I just made some tarts too.

  3. These look like the perfect dessert for a grown-up tea party. Yum!

  4. I discover with great pleasure your blog, today.
    It is beautiful, very whimsical and delicate; almost as soft as a kitten, or perhaps a pair of mittens.

    I love the name too... although I'm French speaking, I must have read that story to my baby daughter, at least a thousand times. But that was many years ago. (I sure hope your blog's name has to do with the story book, if not I must sound totaly ridiculous!)

    I will surely be back, to visit with the bowl of mush. (OH! and thank you so much for the visit! Always a pleasure!)

  5. Citrus desserts are my favorite. I make lemon tarts more often than anything else. You made a happy marriage of Julia and Pierre. Very inspired.

  6. Great looking tarts. I bet they were delicious.

  7. To Vibi, Thank you so much for your lovely comment. You were right, the name is absolutely inspired by the book good night moon! Also everything I make begins with a bowl of mush!
    Thank you for stopping by :)

  8. Oh! I love this lemon cream! Isn't it the best you ever tasted?

    Looking forward to see more delicious recipes from Pierre & Julia!

  9. I have that same Pierre Hermé book (in French) and I agree, that lemon curd/cream recipe is delectable!

  10. Hmm, I may have to pull out my mini tart pans and make this very soon. YUM!

  11. Thanks for visiting my blog! You should definitely try macarons - I'm praying it's a "once you do it, it'll work everytime" type of thing.

    Anyway your lemon tarts look amazing! I love tarts and I've been thinking about buying Julia Child's book for a while.

  12. looks absolutely delish - from the custard to the raspberry topping!

  13. Awh, those tarts look beautiful! I adore lemon tarts and I'm always on the look out for a good recipe! I'll have to give these a try!

    Katie xox

  14. What a lovely combination from 2 great chefs!!! They turned out so beautiful!

  15. These look yummy. I'm so scared to make pasty dough. I just need to do it. Every time I see someone make it, it seems easy enough.

  16. This tart is beautiful and brava for purchasing Julia & Pierre's books. They will be lifelong resources in your kitchen - you can never go wrong with them!

  17. such a lil baktress you are! These are gorgeous! They would be so perfect for an end of summer dinner party, love them!

  18. Beautiful tarts! And lemon is my absolute favorite (especially when it's a Pierre Hermé lemon cream!)

  19. pierre herme... thats all i need to hear to know to put me on cloud 9! love how your tart merged 2 of the best of the bests together: pierre and julia! super job :)

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  21. I love lemon tarts - I can eat more of them as they are tart and not too sweet. Yours look fluffy and I love the garnish.

  22. Gorgeous! I did make Pierre Herme's macarons and loved them. I love the whipped aspect of this luscious lemon filling and must try it! Beautiful!

  23. I've been planning to get one of Pierre Herme's books for the longest time and your post has just inspired to head to amazon right now. Those tarts are really gorgeous!

  24. Wow...these look great. I love anything lemon and I'm going to try making these very soon.

  25. Just visited your site for the first time and I love it. I was looking for a recipe for a lemon tart by Julia Child and your site came up. I will definitely be back. Your recipes are amazing and I love how you post photos of each step. Keep up the good work.



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