There are times when I cook or bake that I have one person in mind. I focus on a single person who would LOVE what I am creating and it makes making it all the more fulfilling, because I think about how much my target person will enjoy it and it brings me satisfaction.
This tart was for all my lemon loving friends, but in particular CY, only because she LOVES lemon. She knows how to enjoy the good things in life, and I imagine the smile on her face when she digs in.
I first tasted this tart at Mustards Grill in Yountville (Napa Valley) on my Girls Getaway Weekend. Being the resourceful girl I am, I found the Mustards Grill Cookbook and decided that one of the things I HAD to make was the Lemon Tart, as it was phenomenally amazing. I did leave out the brown sugar meringue, only because I am not a fan, and fiddled with the ingredients, if only to make it simpler for me. The end result was a very delicious lemon tart, and you can see how there are almost two layers in the filling (which happens automatically....one filling, becomes two layers.) It is delicious and thoroughly worth making. The crust is the only finicky part, but not anything so atrocious that it cannot be done.
Lemon Tart (adapted from the Mustards Grill Cookbook)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) COLD unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg (used as a wash, NOT in the crust)
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
To make the crust, combine the flour sugar, salt, and butter in food processor, electric mixer, or large mixer bowl. Using the blade attachment of the food processor, the paddle attachment of the electric mixer, or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. If you are using a processor, transfer the mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons water and vanilla over the mixture and mix with a fork until the dough clumps together. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap and flatten into a 1-inch-thick disk. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes, until it is firm enough to roll out.
Have ready an 11-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 13 inch circle. Carefully, move the dough to line the tart pan. (You can rest it on the rolling pin and carry it over, or you can gently lift it over.) Trim the dough to leave about a 1/2 inch overhang all the way around, saving the trimmings at room temperature of later crust repair. Gently push the dough into the pan so it fits snugly, then fold the overhang toward the inside, pressing the folded dough against the sides. With thumb and forefinger, gently pinch the dough so that the sides of the tart extend about 1/4 inch above the edge of the pan, with an even thickness all the way up and around. Freeze the crust for 30 minutes, until it is hard. While crust is chilling, preheat the oven to 350.
When the crust is hard, line it with a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover it, and fill it with beans, rice, or pie weights. (no pricking of crust.) Bake the crust for 35 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for another 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and feels dry. Whisk egg with 1 teaspoon of water to make an egg wash and brush all over the bottom and sides of the crust. Return the crust to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more until egg is set and dry.
15 minutes before the crust is due to be completed, begin working on filling. Whisk the eggs and granulated sugar together in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice until smooth. Whisk in cream, then strain the filling through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup and stir in the lemon zest. The filling will be quite liquid.
When the crust is fully baked (after the egg step), carefully pour the filling into the crust. (It is easier to do this while the crust remains IN the oven.) Reduce the oven heat to 325 and bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is just set. Cool the pie on a rack, then refrigerate until cold.
Serve after it is cold with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or fresh berries.