When I was growing up, I didn’t get to see lemons growing on trees. No, in Illinois, citrus was certainly not a local crop. However, several years later when I moved to Austin and started gardening, one of the first things I wanted to add to my garden was a lemon tree. It has to be container grown here because we have to move it inside when we have below-freezing temperatures. But, for most of the year, I get to see a lemon tree in my own backyard. Actually, I now get to see two lemon trees. My friend Kirsten, an amazing garden designer and gardener, entrusted her lemon tree to me when she and her husband moved from Austin to Edmonton. Happily, her tree is still doing fine (even though my gardening skills pale in comparison). Both trees produce Meyer lemons which can take almost an entire year to mature from blossoms. The lemons become ripe and ready to pick in late December or early January. I seem to have good luck with lots of lemons one year and then not so many the next. This was a good year. I picked plenty of lemons for limoncello, lots of vinaigrettes, and more. Since only the peels are used for limoncello, I had a couple of cups of lemon juice in my freezer waiting for inspiration to strike when I saw this citrus tart in the January issue of Living. The tart combines lemon and lime juices which seemed perfect since the lime would sharpen up the sweeter Meyer lemon juice.
This tart’s crust is a press in the pan type made with butter, flour, salt, ground almonds, confectioners’ sugar, and an egg yolk. I used almond meal that I had on hand rather than grinding blanched almonds in a food processor. The dough was a little sticky, but it was simple enough to press it into the tart pan. Then, it was placed in the freezer for 20 minutes. The crust was baked for about 23 minutes and left to cool while the filling was made. Eggs, sugar, salt, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh lime juice, and cream were mixed and then poured into the cooled crust. The tart went back into the oven, at a reduced temperature, for about 25 minutes or until set. I had to leave mine a few extra minutes until the center was no longer jiggly.
I whipped some leftover mascarpone with cream and a pinch or so of sugar, and my goodness, can someone please tell me why I had never before added mascarpone to whipped cream? That is definitely one of the most delicious concoctions, and it made a very nice topping for the tart. The crust was buttery and rich and possibly just a tad too rich and too sweet for me, although I didn’t hear any complaints. Still, I might opt for a standard shortbread crust or even a pate brisee next time I make this, but I won’t change a thing about the filling. The mix of lime and Meyer lemon juices was fresh and bright and just enough sugar was added, and of course, picking the lemons yourself makes them taste even better.