Well this has been quite a winter. Pandemic, snow, ice. But I always find a little sunshine in citrus at this time of year, so here’s a treat to brighten up the gloomy days. I always pick up the little bags of Meyer lemons when they start to appear in the stores at this time of year, because they are so useful. Particularly for baking, as they are not too tart and a bit sweeter than standard lemons. The thin skin is perfect for making simple whole lemon sweets, like these Whole Lemon Squares. I love the texture of the filling the whole lemon technique creates, somewhere between a curd and a custard or chess filling. Rosemary is the perfect foil for lemon, adding some interest and depth, and this sophisticated tart is the perfect vehicle for the pairing.
There are several steps to this recipe in order to layer as much rosemary flavor with the lemon. The crust is a classic pâte sablée, or sweet shortcrust pastry crust, that is reminiscent of a sugar cookie. Grinding the sugar with some fresh rosemary needles releases the fragrant oils that are then transferred to the sugar, which adds a lovely spark of herbaceous flavor. I infuse the cream with rosemary for even extra punch. It’s a little difficult to infuse a small ¼ cup, so I use ½ a cup, then whip the remaining with some plain heavy cream for a little garnish.
Meyer Lemon Rosemary Tart
- For the Crust
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 egg yolk
Ice cold water
- For the Filling
½ cup heavy cream
3 sprigs of rosemary, divided
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- For the Crust
- Spread a piece of parchment paper on the counter and lightly sprinkle with flour. Turn out the dough and lightly flour the top. Roll it into a disk to fit a 9-inch tart pan. Spray the pan with cooking spray, then fit the pastry shell in it. If there are breaks or gaps, just press them together – this is pretty forgiving dough. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and freeze the crust for one hour. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet and line the crust with parchment paper and fill with baking pellets, dried beans or rice. Bake the crust for 25 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the oven to cool slightly while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
- Put the sugar and the needles stripped from the rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to begin chopping the rosemary. It won’t all break down yet, but don’t worry. Add the flour and salt and process until the rosemary is more finely chopped and everything is well combined. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the flour and process until you have fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and process, then drizzle in cold water with the machine running until the dough just comes together in ball. It Should only take a couple of tablespoons.
- For the Filling
- While the crust is in the freezer, put the heavy cream and 2 stalks of rosemary in a small saucepan and bring the cream just to bubbling around the edges over medium heat. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. This is also a good time to melt the butter.
- While the crust is cooling, put the sugar and the needles from the remaining stalk of rosemary in the cleaned out bowl of the food processor and process as before. Cut the lemons into quarters and pop out any seeds, then place the quarters, peel and all, in the bowl of the food processor and process until the lemons are well chopped and you have a relatively smooth, pulpy mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Remove the rosemary needles from the infused cream and add ¼ cup pf the cream to the food processor with the egg, egg yolks and cornstarch. Process until smooth and combined, then drizzle in the melted butter and process until completely combined and creamy. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for 25 minutes, then raise the heat to 350 degrees and bake for a further 20 – 25 minutes, until the center of the filling just slightly wobbles when you shale the baking sheet. Cool the tart completely, then transfer to the fridge loosely covered with plastic wrap until firm.
- You can whip the remaining infused cream with some more heavy cream to serve with the tart if you’d like.
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