The whole lemon

I gotta show you this lemon tart I made today.

I totally bombed it, appearance-wise. The tart crust I used (not the recommended recipe because I was feeling ever so slightly petulant) slouched down to the bottom edges of the pan, like a cool-dude teenager’s baggy, low-riding, boxer-showing jeans. I decided to just dump the filling on top of the crust anyhow, and of course it boiled over and down just as I expected it would, and the edges burned some, but aside from that, it passed our taste-tests with flying colors. Yo-Yo Boy said that maybe he would ask for a bunch of lemon tarts for his birthday cake. And his pants are still firmly anchored above his hips.

The recipe comes from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen. I’m in love with her blog! I can’t believe I’ve been web-literate (not to be confused with web-fluent) for this many months and just now found it. She’s in the same boat, or at least in the same cove, as Orangette, and that is some pretty high praise, coming from me, a smitten Orangette fan.

Anyways, this is an amazing recipe, not just because of the flavor and the simplicity, but because the recipe calls for blending up an entire lemon, minus the seeds, in a food processor with some sugar. The resulting bits of chewy, candy-like lemon rind stud the creamy tart, and pack a punch flavor-wise. Is that not totally fantastic? Like, wassup, dude, this is some cool piece of sweet!

Obviously, it doesn’t take much to make my day. Just give me a lemon and a food processor and all signs of pubescent petulance vaporize, poof.

Now if I could just comfortably button my disconcertingly hip–huggin’ jeans…

Lemon Tart
From The Smitten Kitchen, and she, in turn, got it from Dorie Greenspan.

For the crust:
Use the recipe that Deb recommends (I’ll be trying it next time around), or your favorite tart crust, or even an everyday pie crust. Or, skip the crust all together and pour the lemon custard into little ramekins, set the ramekins in a pan of hot water, and bake them as you would a custard, till brown on top and the middle no longer jiggles (though keep in mind that after you eat the little non-middle-jiggling custard, your middle will be jigglin’).

I just tasted the little ramekin of lemon filling (I had a some leftover after pouring the majority of the filling into my slouching-crust bottom) and it kind of divided as it baked, with the top and edges turning extra chewy with bits of crystallized sugar, and the bottom staying mostly creamy-smooth. So on second thought, though it would probably be quite tasty with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some whipped cream, my preference is for a tart with a bottom crust, even a slovenly one.

Partially pre-bake the tart crust. (I took that bit of instruction to mean that I was to bake the crust till it was set and turning brown on the bottom, and since that part turned out fine, I think I was correct in how I took that to mean. Are you still with me?)

For the filling:
Wash and dry a lemon, slice it thinly, and remove the seeds. Place the sliced lemon in your food processor along with 1 ½ cups sugar. Pulse until well blended, sandy in some places and creamy in others. (I licked some of the lemony sugar off my thumb, and it crossed my mind that this would be a fabulous mixture to have on hand come summer for stirring into sweaty, tall glasses of iced tea.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together an egg, another egg yolk, 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch, the lemon-sugar, and a stick of butter that has been melted and then cooled.

Pour the lemon filling into the tart crust and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, and then increase the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve.


  • KTdid

    If JJ and Handsome wish to play an interesting game of hopscotch purchasing, where’s the harm? I didn’t hear a sermon anywhere!


    ps. Life’s too short to let guilt eat away at you. Much better to eat away at the lemon tart!

  • Anonymous

    Mama JJ tells me that her very-good-Christian friend burned her copy of the book, awful as it was. So this is all rather curious. Let’s not sling around the name of Jesus.

  • Jennifer Jo

    You guys are great! Whoever thought that a lemon tart could be so thought-provoking!

    Aunt V, Maybe I’m using the wrong words to explain what I mean. Does “taking a Sabbath from spending” sound better? People do all sorts of work the day before the Sabbath in order that their day of rest will be genuinely restful. If you’ll recall, our first spending freeze was an impromptu affair and didn’t last very long. We’ve learned it is more effective (ie, more restful) to prepare ourselves.

    S, For a number of reasons that I don’t want to go into right now, I will probably not be reading that book anytime soon. However, you have obviously found it to be both challenging and inspiring, and I would be very interested in hearing what about it you found helpful. Same goes to you, Zoe.


  • Anonymous

    In response to your response to sem, You really need to read (and J too) ‘To Train Up a Child’ by Michael and Debi Pearl. And if it makes you mad and really mad and really, really mad, hey, just take it out on me, I’m pretty far away and removed. But for your kids sake, READ IT.

    Jesus never flees from us. Why should you be periodically ‘fleeing’?



  • Anonymous

    I still don’t get the point in stocking up. Wouldn’t it make more sense to all of a sudden one day have Mr.H (or someone else) suggest you go on a spending freeze and than only stock up on the BARE necessities, in my book that doesn’t include chocolate, citrus, alcohol in any form, imported cheeses, etc. I bet that huge stock of Fingerling potatoes and canned/frozen goods would get used up in some pretty creative or maybe boring ways.

    Sorry JJ these questions have been eating at me for a long time. Dr P just got the ball rolling.

    Aunt V

  • Jennifer Jo

    Actually Auntie V, I’m not sure you DO know me—I am a giant spender when it comes to groceries. But, most of the restrictions on food purchases come from me. Mr. H doesn’t care if I buy pasta or lemons—he’s more concerned about the big stuff. But restricting myself on food hits me where it hurts, so the food bounderies are for my benefit.

    These game rules are what work for/challenge us. They would be different for everybody else, I’m sure.

    SEM, Mr. Handsome will much appreciate your solidarity, I’m sure. However, we have had the swing set for about three years now and there have been many, many, MANY times that I’ve fled the house to run errands. If only swings could solve my “going crazy” problem. If only!


  • Sarah

    About the whole shopping, spending freeze thing. I get that the point is to take the focus off shopping and thinking about shopping, but I have to disagree about who lost the bet when J bought the parts for the swing set. He bought the parts, the kids use the swings, but ultimately, don’t you benefit the most because the kids are playing outside??? Otherwise you might have gone a little crazy and went on a REAL shopping/ pampering spree just to get out of the house and away from the kids!! So did he really lose that bet?


  • Anonymous

    Dr Perfection voiced my question to perfection. JJ your answer still doesn’t make sense to me. Now, if you were a gigantic spender who can’t control yourself and are way into credit card debt I could understand. I think I know you well enough to know that isn’t the case.

    I love lemon anything.

    -Aunt V

  • Anonymous

    I dare you to have a refined sugar freeze. You know, to take the focus off desserts. Maybe during Lent?


    PS – If you’re interested, I’ll do it with you. Or against you, whatever you prefer. 🙂 To sweeten the pot, as it were, I would give you one pound of maple sugar in exchange for you throwing away (gasp!) five pounds of refined white sugar.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Dr. P, The point of the spending freeze (for me) is NOT to save money but to take the focus off spending. You know, like a sabbatical from shopping. Make sense now?

    Sikantis, Thank you!


  • Anonymous

    what is the point of a spending freeze if you go out and buy everything you need to get through it before it starts? Makes no sense.

  • Jennifer Jo

    Down, people, DOWN! I did NOT cheat! I said I bought “citrus” before going on the spending freeze, and that “citrus” happened to be grapefruits and lemons. Lots of lemons. I didn’t think of oranges, though, which is a sorry shame.


  • You Can Call Me Jane

    I read her post and saw this amazing tart and wished lemons were in season in VA now. Oh, how my locavore ways cramp my cravings sometimes. But, hey, maybe I’ll start craving lemons instead of oranges and be able to justify the purchase. Hmmm…

Leave a Comment