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Lemon Tart Recipe & Video

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You might be surprised when you taste this Lemon Tart. Unlike most Lemon Tarts that are made with just a lemon custard (curd), this lemon filling also contains cream cheese. So while you still have a tart and tangy lemon filling, it also has a cheesecake-like texture that is wonderfully creamy smooth. To complement the filling I used a buttery crisp shortbread crust as a base, and I like to garnish the top with lots of whipped cream. If you serve this tart the day it is made the tart's crust will be nice and crisp and you will taste the full tanginess of the lemon filling. But if store the Lemon Tart overnight in the refrigerator, you will notice that the flavors have softened and blended together.

We start this Lemon Tart by preparing the shortbread crust. Most of us think of shortbread as a cookie, but it also makes a great crust that is very easy to put together in your food processor. Once made, then simply press the pastry into your tart pan, prick the bottom of the pastry, and place the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Although we are going to pre bake the shortbread crust, there is no need to line the pastry crust with parchment paper, and fill it with pie weights to prevent the pastry from puffing up during baking. This step is eliminated when you freeze the tart shell before baking.

Once the crust is baked, next comes the lemon filling. What I like about this filling is that it does not use exotic ingredients and its main ingredient, lemons, are available year round, at a good price, with consistently good quality. Again, as with the shortbread crust, all that is needed is a quick whirl of the ingredients in your food processor. The filling is then poured into the pre baked tart shell and baked until the filling is just set. The finishing touch, once the Lemon Tart has been chilled, is to garnish the top with a layer of whipped cream. 

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Lemon Curd

Lemon Tart: You will need an 8 or 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. 

Shortbread Crust: In your food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps (not a solid ball of dough). (See video for demonstration.) Place the pastry in the tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. (Can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the pastry.) Pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry from puffing up while it bakes.) Cover and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill. (This will help prevent the crust from both puffing up and shrinking while it bakes.)

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. 

Once chilled, place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet, and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Lemon Filling: Place the cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth. In a separate bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Add the sugar mixture to the cream cheese and process until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice and process until well blended and smooth. Pour filling into pre baked tart shell and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Transfer tart to a wire rack to cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least three to four hours.

Topping: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer or by hand with a wire whisk), beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. I often just spread the whipped cream over the filling, but you can place the whipped cream into a pastry bag, fitted with star tip (#1M), and pipe stars over the entire surface of the tart. Refrigerate until serving time. Can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.

Serves about 8 - 10 people.

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Crust:

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Lemon Filling:

5 ounces (140 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature.

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 tablespoon (5 grams) grated lemon zest (outer lemon skin)

1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 2-3 large lemons)

2 large eggs (100 grams), at room temperature

Topping:

1 cup (240 ml/grams) cold heavy whipping cream (contains 35-40% butterfat)

2 tablespoons (20 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, or to taste

TIPS:

Always remove the zest first before halving and squeezing the lemon.

Use a fine strainer to remove the seeds and pulp from the juice.

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