…One makes a lemon tart, of course!

Unlike many of my friends, I find that the longer holidays go on for, the higher the likelihood of my descent into insanity. I first noted this phenomenon in highschool, where I would begin dreaming about going back to school by about the second week of the break, persisting as an almost-nightly occurence until the holidays finished. I simply cannot stand being left alone, at home, with nothing to do but eat, sleep, and chat to friends online.

It has helped that I’ve become interested in cooking for myself – that typically means I’ll spend half the day looking up recipes to attempt, an hour or two cooking, and more time cleaning up (although that probably hasn’t helped my waistline…). And so, in the last few days of the uni holidays, and spurred on by the lovely citrus cremes from Adriano Zumbo, I decided to try my hand at a somewhat time-intensive lemon meringue pie.

My family does have a lemon pie recipe, lovingly copied from a TV show years ago, but I really wanted a softer, more meltingly smooth cream. I decided to try a recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Pierre Hermes (the macaron king) by Fanny at Foodbeam, but halved the recipe so that I’d only end up with one tart.

While long, the recipe isn’t difficult to follow, and the creme came together rather well. The only hitch with the making of the filling came with the blending, as I don’t have a handheld blender. If you read regularly, you would also be aware that I have…issues…with using the blender. I chose to simply strain the creme, and hoped that that would be enough, but as the evening wore on, I realised it probably wouldn’t work. So I enlisted Mum’s help and used a small blender.

At my family’s request, I made a simple whipped cream topping rather than the meringue. I don’t think that made too much of a difference, it was just sweet enough to balance the sourness of the lemon creme.

The recipe for the creme was fantastic, halved without a hitch, and was utterly lemony. It’s not quite as ‘easy’ as the tarts you just put into the oven to bake, but I’m not complaining, it has meant I’ve leveled up – I can now use a double boiler! *game music plays in the background* If you want to do a little less work, then, like me, use a pre-made tart shell. You can buy them pre-baked, or frozen and bake them yourself.

I’d like to try making the tart pastry and meringue next time, but for now, I have a gorgeous lemon creme recipe to play with… And I think next on the list will have to be lemon meringue cupcakes! =)

Recipe:

Adapted from Foodbeam

Tart au Citron

100 grams caster sugar

finely grated zest from 1 lemon

2 large eggs

70 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1-2 lemons*)

150 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

Put the caster sugar and lemon zest in a medium heatproof bowl that can be placed over a pot of simmering water without having the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Rub the lemon zest through the sugar with your fingers (it will make your hands smell divine) until evenly distributed. Whisk in the eggs, then the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and start stirring. Stir constantly as you let it cook. Meanwhile fill your sink with a few inches of cold water, we’ll use it later to stop the creme from over-cooking. Once the creme reaches 85 degrees Celcius, remove from the heat (watch out for the steam!) and place the bowl into the sink, continuing to stir until the creme reaches 60 degrees Celcius.

Add the pieces of butter one by one, whisking well after each addition (use an electric whisk). Once all the butter has been incorporated, blend the creme for 8 minutes with a handheld-blender (or stick it into the blender like me). This will give you that melting-smoothness, and is well worth the cleaning afterwards. Pour into a container, cover the surface with clingwrap so that it is airtight, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 4 days, depending on when you will use it.

When you are ready to use it, whisk to loosen, and pour into your baked tart shell. Refrigerate for an hour. Top with an Italian meringue or slightly sweetened whipped fresh cream and serve.

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