Lemon Sabayon Tart

Lemon Sabayon Tart
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slice of meyer lemon tart
Bright, light, and lemony!

Just last week, we picked up a couple of pounds of Meyer lemons at the store, so we needed to make something from them. We also need some practice in making lemon curd, too. Perfect, right? Well, not quite, as what would you do with a bowlful of lemon curd all by itself? (Our final plan is to use it between layers of a lemon cake).

We decide to make a tart, based on the recipe from Bouchon by Thomas Keller, which we saw on Epicurious. We were unsure about the pine nut crust that was recommended, mostly because we had no idea how else we could use a crust flavored with pine nuts. So, we went with a Pate Sucree recipe, instead.

Lemon Sabayon Tart

Yield: one 9-inch tart

Lemon Sabayon Tart


  • 1 Pâte Sucrée, chilled and ready to roll
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
  • 6 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Abbreviated Instructions

For the crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Roll dough into a 10-inch circle, then transfer to the tart pan and press into place. Cut away excess crust and freeze for 30 minutes.

Place crust on a baking sheet and bake 30 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through, until crust is evenly browned and crisp. Let cool completely.

For the sabayon

Construct a double boiler using a metal mixing bowl and saucepan.

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in the saucepan over medium heat. In the mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until pale and smooth.

Place over boiling water and whisk continuously until mixture is foamy and thickened. Add 1/3 of the lemon juice and continue whisking until thickened again. Repeat, adding a third of the lemon juice and cooking until thickened, until all the juice is incorporated, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, but leave lemon curd over the hot water.

Add butter, one piece at a time, whisking until completely incorporated before adding the next.

Strain sabayon into tart shell.

Preheat broiler and place tart on a baking sheet. With the oven open, place tart under the broiler, moving it and turning it as needed to form a browned crust.

Let tart cool at least 1 hour, and serve either at room temperature or refrigerated.


Ingredient discussion:

Eggs are those from happy, foraging hens, right? Of course. We used juice from Meyer lemons because they have a more complex flavor — somewhat sweeter — than regular lemons, but, use what you can find, or even mix a small amount of orange juice with the lemon, if you wish. Butter, unsalted, because salty desserts can be kind of odd.

Procedure in detail:

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. The removable bottom makes it really easy to pop out the finished tart; plus, most of those tart pans have a nice- looking fluted edge to help make your tart look professional.

Roll crust. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the crust to about 10 inches around. If needed, add a bit more flour as you work. Alternatively, you can roll the crust between two pieces of parchment, which eliminates the need for the flour.

tart crust
Trim the crust smooth for a professional looking tart crust.

Press in crust. Transfer the crust to the tart pan and press into place, folding the crust into the edge rather than stretching it. Once in place, use a sharp knife to cut away the excess crust.

frozen crust
Freezing helps to keep the crust from puffing in spots, and, in the best case, eliminates the need for pie weights.

Freeze. Place the crust in the freezer and freeze solid, about 30 minutes. Freezing will help keep the crust from slumping near the edges and help keep it from puffing up.

baked crust
A light golden-brown crust is what you want: baked completely, but no burnt spots.

Bake. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet — in case it leaks a bit of butter — and slide into the oven. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, rotating about halfway, or until the crust is golden-brown and dry to the touch. Cool completely.

For the sabayon:
making a double boiler
Almost anything will work as a double boiler; just make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.

Assemble double boiler. Find a metal mixing bowl — we use the one from our stand mixer — and a saucepan that it’ll fit into while leaving space at the bottom for water. Place about 1 inch of water in the saucepan (check to make sure the bowl won’t touch the water; it should be above the boiling water) and bring it to boil over medium heat.

making lemon curd
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until smooth.

Whisk eggs and sugar. Place the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in the bowl and whisk until pale and smooth, about 1 minute.

Cook mixture. Place the mixing bowl over the boiling water and whisk continuously, tilting and turning the bowl for even heating, until the mixture is foamy and thickened, about 2 minutes.

addin lemon juice
Add the lemon juice in thirds, cooking and whisking until the sabayon is thickened once again between additions

Add lemon juice. Add about 1/3 of the lemon juice, and continue cooking, whisking continuously, until once again thickened, about 2 minutes. Add another 1/3 of the lemon juice and whisk and cook until thickened. Add the remaining lemon juice and cook and whisk vigorously until the mixture is lightened in color and the whisk leaves trails in the mixture. Total cooking time is about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Remove the double boiler from the heat, but leave the mixing bowl over the hot water.

adding butter
Add the butter in tablespoon-sized pieces, whisking it in before adding the next.

Add butter. Add butter in 1- tablespoon-sized pieces, whisking each in completely before adding the next. We think that this whisking in of butter at the end is why this is called sabayon, rather than lemon curd, although you can think of it as lemon pudding, which it basically is. Regardless, we really like to use the term sabayon; it just sounds so fancy.

straining sabayon
We like to strain all our custard-like dishes. It makes for a smoother dessert, without any egg bit surprises.

Strain into shell. With the sabayon still warm, pour it through a fine mesh strainer and into the tart shell. No matter how much you whisk, and how careful you are, you’ll probably have a few bits of cooked egg in the sabayon, so strain them out for a very smooth filling.

Broil. Preheat your broiler. With the oven door open, place the tart (still in its pan on the baking sheet) under the broiler, and, watching all the time, move and rotate the tart until you have a nicely- browned crust on top. The browning happens very rapidly, so do not just place the tart under the broiler and close the door, unless you want a burnt crust on top of your tart.

Meyer lemon sabayon tart
The tart browns rapidly, so watch it like the proverbial hawk.

Cool. Let the tart cool a bit, then release it from the tart pan, and place on a plate. Let cool at least one hour before serving; you can serve the tart either at room temperature or refrigerated.

Wow! This was delicious. Not very sweet, but packed with flavor. Plus, it was a lighter dish than the last Meyer Lemon Tartlets we made — they were very rich, too rich even — making for a great dessert. And, really, it’s not that difficult to make. Sure, if you’ve never made something like this using a double boiler, you might be a bit intimidated, but go for it. After a few times, it’ll become second nature, and you’ll move up a notch on the Scratchin’ It skill level. Five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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