As you can tell from my other dessert posts, we take chocolate very seriously here. We buy Belgian chocolate wholesale in 22 pound bags and we go through it in 3-4 months. With twelve cookbooks dedicated to just chocolate and a file folder stuffed full of magazine and newspaper clippings, we are never short of new chocolate recipes to try.
So, a non-chocolate dessert has to be pretty darn good for us to consider it worthwhile. This lemon tart surprised us all. It was so good, it barely lasted two days in our house before only crumbs remained.
Not only does this tart have the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness in the lemon curd, there is also a nice surprise in the shell. The addition of unsweetened coconut adds another layer of flavor without being so strong that you feel like you are eating a Lemon-Coconut Tart. The recipe for the tart shell makes enough for two tarts. If you are planning to make only one, the remaining dough can be stored in your freezer for several weeks. However, I think once you taste this lemon tart you will not want to wait to make another one.
Though this lemon tart should serve eight, I was looking for ways to justify saying this tart serves four. One small slice hardly seemed like enough.
For the tart shell
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
For the lemon curd
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
For the tart shell
- Finely grind the coconut in a food processor; set aside.
- Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar and beat again until well combined, occasionally scraping the bowl and paddle.
- Add coconut, egg, vanilla and salt. Mix to combine.
- Add flour and then mix at low speed until dough forms. Do not over mix.
- Pat the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes or overnight for easier handling.
- When ready to bake the shell, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Remove half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator, storing any leftover in a plastic bag in the freezer for another use. It will keep up to 4 weeks.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a round disc slightly larger than the tart pan and about 1/8 inch thick. Rotate dough frequently to prevent it from sticking to the surface. Using both hands or the rolling pin, transfer the dough to the tart pan. Ease the dough into the pan, pressing the dough well into the corners and crevices. Prick bottom of shell with a fork.
- Bake shell until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
For the lemon curd
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk lemon juice and lemon zest with 6 tablespoons of the sugar. Bring to a boil and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and remaining sugar thoroughly to create a smooth mass.
- Slowly add about one-quarter of the boiled lemon juice mixture to the eggs while continuing to whisk vigorously. This will slowly warm up (or temper) the eggs so lumps won’t form.
- Pour egg-lemon mixture into the saucepan containing the remainder of the lemon juice mixture. Return to the stove and whisk vigorously, bringing mixture to a boil for 1 minute. Continue to simmer the mixture until the lemon curd is the consistency of hollandaise sauce. Remove the saucepan from the heat and place in an ice bath to cool the lemon curd to 120 degrees (or warm but not hot to the touch), about 3 minutes.
- Remove from ice bath and add butter in 5 increments, stirring gently with a rubber spatula until smooth.
- Pour lemon curd into the baked tart shell and chill in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
- Beat the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe cream around the tart.
Be sure to use unsweetened coconut for the tart shell. It can be found in the bulk or organic section of most grocery stores.
Recipe adapted from Chef Eddy Van Damme via the Houston Chronicle.