It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? How can something with a name so funky, taste so luscious? It’s the magic of chemistry that turns basic ingredients like sugar, eggs, butter and lemon, with a little heat, into a silky, sweet, and tangy spread that you would swear should not have a name like curd.
The pairing of lemon and chocolate is one of my favorites and goes all the way back to my college years when I had the opportunity to go with my boyfriend’s family to Europe for a summer. This was my first time traveling out of North America and I was so determined to go, I sold my car to be able to afford the trip. It was an eye-opening journey in so many ways, and when we got to Italy, it was there that my boyfriend introduced me to the seemingly disparate but complimentary flavors of dark chocolate gelato and tart lemon sorbet. That boyfriend is now my husband and I like to think I knew right then he was a keeper. Since then I’ve combined tangy lemon and dark chocolate into many a cake, ice cream and now, this tart.
A little bit of background…
Fruit curds have a history dating back to 17th century England where they were created as another way of preserving fruits by using a lot of sugar. Unlike jams and jellies, they contain eggs and butter, so they’re more challenging to preserve and don’t last as long as conventional fruit preserves unless refrigerated or frozen.
Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit) are most commonly used in fruit curds, but other options include passion fruit, pineapple, and mango, even cranberry. Just about any fruit can be made into a curd if it can be pureed or juiced.
Lemon curd is quite versatile; spread it on toast at breakfast, scones at tea time, fill pastries, or fold it into homemade ice cream. For a fun and colorful dessert, make a parfait using lemon, tangerine, and lime curds, layered with whipped cream, pastry cream or mascarpone. Try filling cupcakes with passion fruit curd, spreading orange curd in between layers of sponge cake, or filling mini tart shells with lemon curd and blueberries, perfect for a party. Or just eat it by the spoonful. I do.
Because the ingredients are limited in this recipe, let them shine:
- Get the best quality chocolate you can.
- If you can find Meyer lemons, they make excellent curd because they have a sweeter, more complex flavor than the more common Eureka lemon. If possible, buy organic lemons (or wash conventionally grown ones thoroughly) because you will be using the zest as well as the juice (this applies to all curds made with citrus).
- This tart dough is similar to shortbread or a sugar cookie. You’ll need a 10” fluted edge tart pan with a removable bottom, though it could also be adapted to be a “bar” cookie if done in a rectangular baking pan.
Chocolate ganache is adaptable for many other uses:
- When the ganache is still melted add your choice of flavors; peppermint, espresso, orange, liqueurs such as Bailey’s, bourbon, rum, or spices like cardamom, cinnamon or even cayenne.
- Cover a cake with ganache instead of frosting for a super smooth glossy finish. Set a cake on top of a wire cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Slowly pour cooled but still liquid ganache over the cake and smooth around the sides with a cake spatula.
- Whip cold ganache with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and use for frosting cakes or cupcakes.
- Make chocolate truffles. Let the ganache firm up and then roll ganache into balls and dip them in melted chocolate, cocoa powder, etc.
Lemon Curd and Chocolate Ganache Tart
Recipe for tart lemon curd, creamy chocolate ganache, and tart dough.
For the lemon curd:
- 6 Egg Yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- 4 oz cold butter (cut into small pieces)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
For the chocolate ganache
- 8 oz good dark chocolate
- 8 oz heavy cream
For the sweet tart dough:
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks, cut into 1? pieces)
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 tsp. salt (only use if you are using unsalted butter)
For the lemon curd:
- Grate the lemon zest first, using a fresh, clean lemon. Only grate only the yellow part, avoiding the white pith which can be bitter. Then squeeze the lemons through a strainer for their juice.
- Mix the egg yolks with the sugar in a small heavy bottomed pot. Whisk in the lemon juice.
- Cook on medium heat until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Do not boil or the eggs may scramble.
- Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter pieces. When all the butter is incorporated, whisk in the lemon zest.
- Allow to cool in the refrigerator. Yield is approximately 2 cups.
For the chocolate ganache:
- Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed pot, just until it gets very hot; do not boil.
- Put the chocolate in a heat safe bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Wait a few minutes and then whisk until all the chocolate is melted.
- Yield is approximately 2 cups.
For the sweet tart dough:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Directions for making in food processor:
- Fit bowl with metal blade. Add flour, sugar and butter to bowl (add salt if butter is unsalted).
- Put on the lid and process in short bursts, about 10 times to break up the butter into the flour.
- Mix the egg yolk and water in a small bowl and with the processor on, pour the egg/water mix through the tube in the lid into the bowl. Keep mixing until the dough forms into a ball inside the bowl. Remove and form into a small cake.
Directions for making by hand:
- Cut the butter into the flour and sugar, working it through by hand until it becomes like coarse meal or breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg/water mixture with a fork until it’s incorporated and the dough comes together in a soft ball.
- Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Once it is rolled out, put it in a 10” tart pan with removable bottom and press the dough into the edges, pulling off any excess.
- Because the filling for this recipe is not cooked in the tart shell, the crust needs to be baked by itself. To keep the center of the crust from puffing up and cracking during baking, you’ll want to weigh it down.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil to fit the bottom of the tart pan (see tip below).
- Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork and put the paper on top.
- Weigh down with pie weights or beans.
- Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges of the crust begin to color. Remove from oven, and carefully remove the paper and beans. Put the tart back in the oven and bake until crisp and golden, about another 8 minutes. Remove and let cool. Fill.
To Assemble the Tart:
- 1 baked tart crust
- 1 chocolate ganache recipe
- 1 lemon curd recipe
- Once the crust is baked, allow it to cool.
- Mix up the ganache and while it is still soft, pour it into the crust and place it in the refrigerator to firm up, about 20 minutes. Then spread the lemon curd on top.
- Optional garnishes; chocolate rose leaves, candied citrus peels or slices, chocolate curls.
Tip to cut parchment circle; fold a square in half and then in half again to make a smaller square. Cut from edge to edge in a semi-circle equal to 1/2 the diameter of your pan. Unfold and voila! You have a perfect circle to fit.