This gorgeous lemon tart is from Suzanne Goin’s wonderful book of her seasonal restaurant recipes – Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table.
This cover-to-cover read is arranged by season as a series of menus, each including a starter, main course with accompaniments and dessert. While the main courses all have meat components, Suzanne Goin’s love of and focus on vegetables ensure that there is much for the vegetarian in many of the recipes. One of my favourite cookbooks!
I have made this tart a few times and it has always been a success. I am not generally a huge fan of lemon curd and lemon tarts, but the surprise – the layer of bitter chocolate between the pastry and curd – is a revelation! It makes this tart something I am very happy to shovel into my mouth.
The pastry is also absolutely delightful. Extremely easy to make if you have a food processor of some sort, it is easy to work with, holds its shape well during cooking and tastes divine. The raw pastry was so tasty that me and a friend found ourselves popping piece after piece of buttery cut-offs.
The lemon curd in Suzanne’s recipe calls for Meyer lemons, but they are rarely seen in Europe, so I substituted regular lemon juice mixed with some orange juice – all freshly squeezed of course! The lemon flavour really is at the centre of this tart, so if the fruit doesn’t taste great, neither will your tart. I have tried substituting only regular lemon juice, but the curd came out a little too tart. Even for a lemon lover such as myself.
It is important that the curd is warm when you pour it into the tart case as only then will it set with a glossy sheen. Consequently, make sure that the chocolate is fully set and the curd is not too hot when you pour it on, as you don’t want the chocolate to melt into the curd.
The curd sets beautifully, enabling the individual slices to hold a great shape when sliced. If you wait until the curd is fully set before covering, it will develop a protective skin and you will even be able to lay plastic wrap over the top without it sticking. It keeps very well in the fridge and will last quite happily for about five days (maybe a week if you’re pushing it).
Sweet, buttery, flaky, golden pastry. Deep, rich, bitter chocolate. Smooth, silky, fruity, tart curd.
Lemon tart with dark chocolate
- 60 g double/heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 300 g plain flour
- 90 g unrefined granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon flaky salt
- 225 g unsalted butter
Lemon Curd & Chocolate Filling
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 6 large eggs
- 5 large egg yolks
- 330 g unrefined granulated sugar
- 90 g 1-2 oranges freshly squeezed orange juice
- 250 g 4-5 lemons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 210 g cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- pinch of salt or to taste
Whisk cream and yolks together in a small bowl. Either in a food processor with the blade fitted or a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, sugar, salt and butter, and mix until crumbly. Add the cream-yolk mixture, a little at a time, until just combined. This should be achieved quickly, otherwise the gluten will develop and the pastry will be tough. Turn out, shape into a flattish disk and press together with your hands. The pastry will be fairly soft, so refrigerate the disk for about 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out a little over 0.5cm thick. Turn and flour the pastry occasionally to stop it sticking. Carefully lay over a 30cm/12", loose-bottomed tart case. The pastry will tear if you just lift it, so gently wrap it round your rolling pin to lift and unroll it over your tart case. Lift the edges of the pastry to ease it into the corners and press gently to completely and evenly fill the case. Roll your rolling pin over the edge to cleanly cut away the excess dough. Refrigerate for about an hour.
While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 190c. Prick the bottom with a fork, line with baking paper or tin foil and weight down with baking beans or the bottom of a similarly sized tart case. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is set, then take out of the oven and remove the paper/foil and weights. Return to the oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven), until the pastry is golden. You may need to turn the pastry case once during baking to ensure it colours evenly. Cool on a wire rack.
While the pastry is cooling, melt the chocolate in either a microwave or double boiler. If using a microwave, ensure that the chocolate is melting evenly as it can sometimes burn in places. Spread evenly over the bottom on the pastry case and refrigerate until the chocolate is completely solid, 15-20 minutes.
While the chocolate is chilling, make the curd. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and juices. Cook over medium heat, alternating between scraping with a spatula and whisking for the smoothest, silkiest curd. When the curd has thickened (it will be about 80c if you have a thermometer) and can coat a spatula, remove from the heat. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and stir constantly with a spatula as it melts. Salt to taste - the salt is used here to take the edge off the sweetness.
Let the curd cool for about 8 minutes, then pour through a strainer over the chocolate into the pastry case. Chill for around 4 hours until the curd is completely set. It will not be firm, but will definitely hold its shape.
Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the tart into slices. Can be served with a dusting of icing sugar, with clouds of whipped cream or as is. All delightful!
The pastry recipe makes a little more than you will need for a 30cm/12" tart. This can be frozen for a couple of future mini tarts.
Adapted from Sunday Supper at Lucques