Monday 9 September 2013

Foux de Petite French Lemon Cream Tarts

Jermaine: Je voudrais une croissant
Jermaine: Je suis enchante
Jermaine: Ou est le bibliotheque?
Jermaine: Voila mon passport
Jermaine: Ah, Gerard Depardieu
Brett + Jermaine: Un baguette, ah ha ha, oh oh oh oh

~ Flight of the Conchords, Foux de Fafa

Have I raved to you about how much of a francophile I am yet?

It might have started when I first read Madeline as a kid and I've been obsessed ever since. I took French all the way through school. Went on language exchange there when I was 15.  I've watched Le Fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain 14 times.

It's gotten to the point that when I hear strangers speaking French on the street I have to fight the urge to creepily follow just to hear them talk.  Not weird at all right?

{via weheartit}
But let's be franc, what's not to love about the land of romance, cheese, wine, and glorious buttery pastries?  And those accents... As Brett and Jermaine so cleverly illustrate, anything sounds good when you say it in French.

So I was chatting to someone yesterday who had just come back from a trip to France and it got me a) jealous and b) reminiscing about France and the amazing food and irresistible pastries those clever French have invented.  I gained 8 kgs in just 5 weeks living over there.  All happy weight.  All thanks to gloriously sweet and butterific French pastries just like these Petite French Lemon Cream Tarts.

I actually made these wee tarts a few months ago for our Baking for Hospice French round.  They are a inspired by Dorie Greenspan's famous Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart which are a twist on the traditional tarte au citron.  Basically tarts filled with a whipped lemon curd filling encased in short buttery pastry cases.

I guess that's the beauty of French baking, they take simple flavours and make something incredible.  Not to mention the butter, delicious butter.

 You might think with all the butter in the recipe (ok so this is definitely a treat item) that they might turn out heavy and rich but au contraire mon frère, the pastry is delicately crumbly and melt in your mouth and the filling is creamy, tangy, and light as a feather.

As with all things pastry and French, they do require resting the pastry and baking the tarts first so can be fiddlier than a one-bowl recipe per se but if you love lemony treats and all things French then these are perfect for a little whimsical trip back to la belle France.

Petite French Lemon Cream Tarts

Makes around 16 tarts + extra lemon cream (from memory)

Filling adapted slightly from a Dorie Greenspan recipe and pastry recipe from Jo Seagar

Pastry for tart cases
260g butter
2 cups flour
1 cup icing sugar (~132g)

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix until the pastry starts to clump around the blade.

2. Remove the dough from mixer and form into a log shape. Divide the log in half, then each half in to halves and halves again to get 16 even balls of dough.  Roll each ball lightly to get a sphere.

3. Grease two 12 cup non-stick muffin tins well with butter.  Put a small square of baking paper at the bottom to help them come out. Press a ball of dough into each cup to get a thin layer with a little lip over the top of the cup.  Chill the pastry cups in fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking. (NB: I used these special ridged metal tart tins of my Mum's which gave them that lovely edge but a muffin tin would work just as well!)

5. Set your oven to fan bake 160oC.   Dock the tarts heavily with a fork and line with a little square of baking paper and some baking beans to prevent rising (I found the pastry tended to rise heaps if you just docked them).  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.  Let the tart cases cool in the tin mostly before twisting them out and letting them cool completely on a wire rack.  Fill with lemon cream only when completely cooled.

Lemon Cream Filling
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3-4 lemons (A microplane is best)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (~ 4 lemons)
4 large eggs
300g unsalted butter cut into cubes, at room temperature

1. Heat a few cm of water in a small saucepan to simmer over medium-low heat (go on the low side to be safer!).  In a metal bowl that fits on top of the saucepan but not touching the water, mix the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and eggs.   

2. Place the metal bowl over the saucepan of water (making sure the water is not touching) and whisk continuously until thickened - the whisk will start leaving a trail as you stir and the mixture will leave a clean line when you run your finger across the back of the spoon. Take off the heat immediately. Be careful as the mixture goes from looking like it's not done to being done really quickly! (NB: Dorie heated until the mixture reached 180oC using a candy thermometer, I was too lazy to measure the temp!)

3.  Leave the mixture to cool to room temperature stirring occasionally (around 15 minutes).  Transfer the mixture into a food processor or blender.  Set the food processor running on high and add around 4-5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides are required.  When all the butter is added let it keep whizzing for another 3 minutes until it is light, fluffy and pale (you might have to give your machine little rests if it heats up too much).  Don't worry if the mixture starts off looking curdled, it should come right once you have added all the butter and whipped it for ages.

4. I used the lemon cream right away by spooning into the mini tart cases but Dorie recommends chilling the lemon cream first: pour into a plastic container, put a layer of plastic wrap touching the surface to prevent a skin forming and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.  When you are ready to use the cream after chilling, give it  a good whip up to loosen and spoon into tart cases.

5. Once the Lemon Cream Tarts are made up they are best eaten on the day. The lemon cream will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.   I found with this recipe there was a bit of left over lemon cream which was delish on toast or could be used as a filling for a sponge cake.


  1. These are so beautifully French and inviting. I adore lemon cream and the thought of eating it on toast as well as in a tart has made me deeply happy. I used to feel the same way about hearing people talking French in the street but London is now the sixth largest French city based on the number of resident French citizens, so it's become a bit of an everyday occurrence.



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