Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pierre Hermé's extraordinary lemon tart

Spring is finally here! Flowers are blooming and temperatures are climbing - and not a moment too soon! So when I was wondering what dessert to take to a party this weekend, I knew I had to make something light, cool and refreshing, to herald the warmer weather ahead.
Pierre Hermé, pastry chef par excellence, has invented a unique lemon cream that seems to have wowed all the pastry lovers in the blogosphere. The filling is made using the same ingredients - eggs, butter, lemon juice and zest, sugar - as you would find in lemon curd, the custard filling normally used in lemon tarts. Only, in his version, the butter is not melted into the lemon custard. Instead, you cool the custard for ten minutes and then emulsify the butter, by adding it bit by bit while blending the mixture at high speed. The result: a light, silky cream, which dissolves into your mouth with a burst of citrusy flavor. It doesn't have the vivid yellow color of traditional lemon curd, but the texture is far superior. I think this technique would work well with any citrus fruit, and I am also wondering how a mango version would turn out.

Recipe: Pierre Hermé's Lemon Cream Tart
Dorie Greenspan's tips for how to get it right

I used a pâte sucrée made with a bit of ground almonds added to the flour for the tart shell. The only changes I made to the filling were: I didn't use a thermometer (I don't have one) and I used only one stick of butter. The original amount called for seemed like the product would be too rich for me. I blended the mixture a bit longer to compensate! Everyone seemed to like it, so I plan to stick with the lesser quantity.

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