I am in love with these lemon cream tartlets, a kind of love which is pure and almost childish, a love that catches you unprepared and gives you heart-shaped eyes, butterflies in your belly and a significant appetite, I should add. The truth is, behind all this there is a love for elegance and simplicity, a mixture of attraction and admiration for the perfection of simple things, round, voluptuous and once again…very French.
According to the calendar, lemons are no longer in season, but I am only back after spending a few days in Sicily where I greedily filled my eyes with images of these trees loaded of colourful and fragrant fruits: the season didn’t seem over at all.
Now, thousands of km away from sea, intense colours and fragrant wind, the idea of squeezing these memories into a fresh and inviting cream appeared to me as the only way out of the homecoming blues.
The recipe is born from matching a base I use very often (to me it’s easier and quicker than regular shortbread and as satisfying as puff pastry), the Breton shortbread, with a lemon cream shaped like a semi sphere.
Buttery and salty feelings, contrasting with a soft acidity, will fight to take over your taste buds.
And yes, they are quick to make: you don’t need to be a Masterchef or Igino Massari…and not even Giotto, to give them that perfect geometrical shape.
Scroll down a few lines to discover how.
for perfect Breton shortbread and lemon cream tartlets
- With the same ingredients you can make a single cake, instead of 6 tartlets. If you don’t have a silicone mold, you can use the classic steel baking ring: use it to cook the Breton shortbread (sablé bretone) first – ensure you grease it with butter beforehand – and then to make the lemon cream. How? Line one side with well-stretched plastic wrap. Lay the baking ring, wrap-side down, on a baking tray or a large dish that can go in the freezer. Pour the lemon cream in it, level the surface and leave to cool. Once cold, remove from the freezer and wait for a few minutes. Then remove the cling film, turn the ring upside down and press with your fingertips against the edges, so that the lemon cream will detach and slide down. To facilitate this step you can slightly warm up the sides of the ring.
- The beauty of these lemon tartlets is that they are quick and simple, but very effective from a scenography point of view. The lemon cream can be cooked even using the microwave, as long as you check it once every minute. Ensure that the pasteurisation of the eggs proceeds correctly: they must reach 82° C – check it with a thermometer.
- There is no milk in the lemon cream, thus if you substitute the Breton shortbread with a dairy-free base (the one you prefer), you’ll have a perfect dessert even for people with dairy allergies or intolerances.
Silicone mold 6 semi spheres 7 cm diameter
Baking rings 7 cm diameter
INGREDIENTS & METHOD
For the lemon cream
340 g lemon juice grated zest of 2 lemons
4 high quality eggs
8 egg yolks
100 g sugar
130 g butter at room temperature
2 gelatine sheets
Place the gelatine in cold water.
In a pot, mix the eggs, the eggs yolks, the sugar, the lemon juice and the grated lemon zest.
Cook over medium heat, mixing with a whisk until the cream thickens (ensure the temperature is not higher than 82° C), then remove from heat. Add the squeezed gelatine and mix. Leave to cool until it is lukewarm.
Add the butter, cut into chunks, and mix with a hand blender until it’s smooth and velvety.
Pour the cream over the silicone semi spheres and freeze for approximately one hour.
For the Breton shortbread
3 egg yolks 100 g superfine sugar
100 g demi-sel (semi-salted) butter (or unsalted butter with one tablespoon of flower of salt)
175 g all purpose flour
8 g baking powder
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are white and foamy. Add the flour and raising powder, mixed and sifted together.
Add the softened butter (not melted) and mix again with a spatula. The dough will be soft and sticky: place it between two sheets of baking paper and roll it out until it’s approximately ½ cm thick and set aside in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven in fan-assisted mode to 165°C. Take out the dough, lightly grease the baking rings and press them on the dough to obtain the bases. Don’t remove the bases, they will be baked inside the rings. Transfer the moulds onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes (less if you used smaller bases) or until golden. Remove from the oven and, once cold, remove from the baking rings.
Composition of the cake
Remove the lemon cream domes from the tray and place them on the Breton shortbread bases. I like to place a thin layer of sour cream in between. Garnish your lemon cream tartlets with edible flower, a small meringue or pistachios… or whatever your fantasy recommends.