Lemon Tart, Four Ways

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Appears in

Book of Tarts

Book of Tarts

By Maury Rubin

Published 1995

  • About

To me, the single best gauge of a bakery’s quality is its lemon tart. It’s not a difficult tart to make, but there’s a challenge in balancing the sourness of the lemon, the sweet edge of the sugar, and the creaminess of the butter. This recipe produces a delicate, even flavor, and here are four different ways to present it: in the standard tart pastry; in the chocolate crust, where the flavors become more complex; in mini-tart shells; and as part of the most dramatic lemon meringue tart you’ll ever meet.


  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (see step 1)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 6 fully baked tart shells, made with Standard Tart Dough or Chocolate Tart Dough, or 34 -inch mini-tart shells, made with either dough
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, melted, for design, or cocoa powder, for dusting


  1. Place the sugar in a medium bowl and grate the zest of the lemon into it. Rub the zest and sugar together between the palms of your hands.
  2. Strain the lemon juice into a medium nonreactive saucepan. Add the eggs, egg yolk, butter, and the zested sugar, and whisk to combine. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Be sure to whisk all over the bottom of the pan, especially the edges. At the first sign of a boil, remove from the heat and strain into a bowl.
  3. With a ladle or a large spoon, fill the tart shells with the lemon cream. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set. To fill mini-tart shells, transfer the lemon cream to a small glass, and pour the filling into the shells.
  4. Fill a paper pastry bag with the melted chocolate, if using, and stripe and dot each tart or mini-tart to make a simple design, or dust the tops with cocoa powder. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

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