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French Lemon Curd Tart

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This French Lemon Curd Tart is inspired by a Tarte au Citron, or French Lemon Tart. It’s a creamy, slightly tangy lemon custard filling baked in a crisp, buttery shortbread crust. It’s incredibly simple to make, and utterly delicious!

Top view of Lemon Curd Tart with sliced lemons

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A favorite lemon dessert all year, but especially for spring gatherings like Easter, Mother’s Day, or a spring afternoon tea.

There is something absolutely satisfying about lemon curd. In fact, it’s one of my favorite indulgences these days. And while you can absolutely buy curd ready-made, it’s a simple pleasure to make at home.

If you’ve made my Lemon Curd recipe, this Lemon Tart filling is a slightly modified version of that recipe. The butter is increased a bit and I’ve added a dash of cream for texture and flavor.

This tart is a scrumptious combination of sweet, slightly tangy lemon curd and a crisp, buttery cookie-type crust.

The best part? It’s absolutely simple to make!

Slice of Lemon Curd Tart with whole tart on a cake stand

Inspired by Tarte au Citron

Much like a classic French Lemon Tart, or Tart au Citron, this Lemon Curd Tart is smooth and tangy, and utterly delicious. Simple to make, this dessert is essentially a slightly modified lemon curd filling baked into a crispy buttery shortbread crust.

A classic Tarte au Citron, or French Lemon Tart, traditionally does not have a meringue top. While you can find both versions in French bakeries or your favorite boulangerie, I generally prefer the simplicity of a lemon tart without a meringue top.

What to Love About this Lemon Curd Tart

  • Easy to make, or even make ahead.
  • Incredible lemony flavor and bright yellow color.
  • Delicious? Absolutely! Like… you might keep thinking about it days later.

Classic Lemon Curd Tart Ingredients

As mentioned, this recipe is made in two parts; the curd and the crust. Here are the ingredients for both, the exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Ingredients for Lemon Curd Tart

Lemon Curd Filling:

  • Large eggs
  • Granulated sugar
  • Lemon zest and juice
  • Heavy cream
  • Butter

Shortbread Crust:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Butter, melted
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Salt
  • Optional: a dash of lemon zest

Helpful Kitchen Tools

For the tart shell: The only tool you need is a 9-inch tart shell. I prefer to use a nonstick tart shell with a removable bottom. You will also need pie weights, but if you don’t have any handy, dry beans or rice works equally well.

For the lemon curd: This cooks in a double broiler, which is simply a saucepan with simmering water and a heatproof glass bowl that fits on top of the pan without the bottom coming into contact with the water. You will also need a whisk and a strainer.

Lemon Curd Tart without whipping cream

How to Make Lemon Curd Tart

This Lemon Curd Tart is made in two parts. I like to begin with the crust and while it is baking and cooling, make the curd.

While most tart pastry crusts are made with cold butter, rolled, chilled, and then baked, this shortbread crust is simplified and easy. And saves a lot of time. But if you prefer, you can make a traditional crust, or even use a ready-made, unbaked crust too.

Press the dough into tart shell, cover with foil, and fill with pie weights
Bake pie shell, cool, and fill with lemon curd before refrigerating

How to Make the Shortbread Crust

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Mix until it forms a soft dough. Then press into the base of the tart shell and press up the sides. Dock the dough with a fork so that it bakes evenly.

Tightly cover the crust with a sheet of foil or parchment paper so that it also covers the edges of the crust to prevent over-browning. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the shell from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Return the crust to the oven and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden and dry.

Closeup top view of Lemon Curd Slice

Lemon Tart Embellishments

While this Lemon Curd Tart doesn’t actually need any additional embellishments or garnishes, you can add simple touches to make it even more special.

For this tart, I made a simple sweetened whipped cream (1 cup heavy whipping cream plus 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks formed). I then added it to a pastry bag fitted with a #2D tip and lightly piped tiny flower-like embellishments. To me, they reminded me of spring blooms or daisies.

Other ideas would be to dust the top with confectioners sugar, spread a layer of sweetened whipping cream, layer slices of lemon, or top with meringue, or fresh berries.

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Top view of Lemon Curd Tart with Sweetened Whipping Cream
Top view of Lemon Curd Tart slice with sweetened whipping cream

Simple Lemon Curd Tart Recipe

Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes

This French Lemon Curd Tart is inspired by Tarte au Citron, or French Lemon Tart. It's a creamy, slightly tangy lemon custard filling baked in a crisp, buttery shortbread crust. It's incredibly simple to make, and utterly delicious!

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest from 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed

Shortbread Crust

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 12 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • dash of salt

Instructions

Make the Shortbread Crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the flour, melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until it forms a soft dough. Then press it into the base of the tart shell and up the sides. Dock the dough with a fork so that it bakes evenly.
  3. Cover the unbaked crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil tightly against the crust, covering the edges to prevent them from over-browning. Fill the surface with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice.
  4. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, I like to use nonstick foil. Carefully remove the weights and foil, return to the oven and bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and dry. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Lemon Curd Filling

  1. Fill a saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water. Place on high heat and once the water comes to a boil, reduce to low heat and keep the water simmering.
  2. In a heatproof glass bowl that fits on top of the saucepan, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and heavy cream until well blended. Be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Whisk constantly as the curd cooks for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. This can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. (For me, it takes about 11 minutes). Lemon curd thickens at 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  4. Once thickened, remove the curd from the heat and immediately strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, whisking until the butter is melted, completely combined and the curd is smooth. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Take your time whisking the butter into the lemon mixture as it will add a lighter texture to the tart.
  5. Let the curd cool to room temperature before filling the tart shell. Using an offset spatula, spread the curd evenly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with fresh fruit or sweetened whipped cream.

Notes

How to Make Lemon Curd Tart Ahead

Both the shortbread crust and the lemon curd can be made up to a week ahead for the curd and up to 3 days for an unbaked shortbread crust. Both can be frozen for longer storage.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 319Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 100mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 4g

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