Simple, French, Perfect Tarte au Citron, or Lemon Tart

Lemon tart - Maria Zihammou

When I went to Paris, I learned once and for all that there is a difference between the tarte au citron (lemon tart) and its American cousin, Lemon bar. What is the difference? Well, the tartes are French, and therefore slightly better in every way. Here's how you make them. This lovely recipe is excerpted from French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Appetizers, Entrées, Desserts, and Drinks.

PS: want to read more about my overseas adventures? Here's a roundup of my last trip to Paris.

French Bistro Maria Zihammou

Lemon tart

Lemons are always in my kitchen at home—a favorite ingredient that I just can’t do without. They have a wonderful, fresh sourness that’s lovely in a creamy tart that might otherwise be too heavy and sweet. Delightfully delicious, citrusy lemon tart that simply melts in your mouth. Mmm. . .

6-8 people


  • 7 tbsp (100 g) butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups (350 ml) wheat flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold water


  • 5 eggs, preferably organic
  • 4 organic lemons
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup (100 ml) whipping cream
  • ½ cup (100 ml) granulated sugar
  • powdered sugar, for decorating
  • whipped cream, for serving, optionally


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Start by making the dough. Mix the butter, flour, egg yolk, powdered sugar, and water. Knead together with a light touch to form a smooth dough. Press out the dough in a spring-form pan, about 9½ inches (24 cm) in diameter. Pre-bake the crust for about 10 minutes until it’s a light golden color. Take it out and let it cool.

  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: whisk together the eggs in a bowl. Squeeze in the juice from the lemons, and grate 1 tbsp of lemon zest into the bowl. Add the whipping cream and sugar, then whisk thoroughly.

  3. Fill the cooled crust with the lemon cream and cook the tart for about 30 minutes, until the cream has set and feels a bit firm. Allow the tart to cool, and decorate it with the powdered sugar. Good on its own, or with whipped cream.

Excerpted with permission from French Bistro: Restaurant-Quality Recipes for Apetizers, Entreés, Desserts, and Drinks by Maria Zihammou. Photography by Åsa Dahlgren. Copyright 2014, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Strawberry-Mascarpone-Hazelnut Chocolate Tart

Hazelnut strawberry tart - bake-off

What I love about this tart is...well, more than one thing. I love how it marries health food (strawberries) with dessert food (everything else in the recipe). I love how it looks super fancy but comes together rather quickly. And, I love that it has a cookie dough crust. YUM. Thanks to Pamela Shank of Parkersburg, West Virginia for coming up with this clever and pretty Bake-Off entry!

Strawberry-Mascarpone-Hazelnut Chocolate Tart

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 55 Min
  • Makes: 8 servings


  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 2 (8 oz) containers mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread
  • 3 cups halved large strawberries (about 2 pints)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate candy melts or coating wafers (1 1/2 oz) or 1/4 cup white vanilla baking chips


  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Press cookie dough evenly in bottom and 1 1/2-inches up side of ungreased 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and edges are set. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat mascarpone cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed, 2 minutes or until well blended; set aside.
  3. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the hazelnut spread. Spread remaining hazelnut spread evenly in bottom of cooled cookie crust. Spoon and carefully spread mascarpone mixture over hazelnut spread to within 1/4 inch from edge. Arrange strawberries over mascarpone.
  4. In small microwavable bowl, microwave reserved hazelnut spread uncovered on High 20 to 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency. Drizzle over strawberries. In another small microwavable bowl, microwave candy melts uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once or until drizzling consistency. Place melted candy melts in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off small corner of bag. Squeeze bag to drizzle melted candy melts over strawberries. Store in refrigerator.

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Salted Caramel Tart Recipe from the Edible Seattle Cookbook

Salted caramel tart

I don't know if we have actively discussed how awesome Jill Lightner is. So awesome that I'm not even going to pause and correct the fact that I ended a sentence with "is". Make that two sentences. Hey, it's my website, I do what I wanna!

But back to Jill. She's the editor of the incredible publication Edible Seattle, and she has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things foodie in the greater Seattle area. And even better, her sweet tooth just about matches mine. She was one of the first in line to get a copy of CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life signed at my book launch party. Yes, I like Jill very much.

Buy this thing

And now she has her own book out: Edible Seattle: The Cookbook . This gorgeous volume includes recipes for Pacific northwest specialties by Seattle area cooks and pastry chefs, as well as profiles on the local providers, ingredients, and inventors of these lovely recipes. It's a vital volume for anyone living in the greater Seattle area, but a great buy for non-Seattleites too. And the dessert chapter is very, very nice, including sables, pies, homemade ice creams, and--my favorite--a salted caramel tart.

Salted caramel tart

The recipe comes from the Volunteer Park Cafe, and yields a crack-like addictive result. The caramel recipe will yield double what you need for two tarts, but it keeps well in the fridge, so save it for a second tart, or just eat it by the spoonful til it's gone.

Here's the recipe for that tart to get your motor running--for more, buy the book.

Salted Caramel Tart

For the crust

  • 1 box (9 ounces) Nabisco famous chocolate wafers
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the caramel

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick (8oz) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pink Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, smoked gray salt, or fleur de sel

For the chocolate ganache

  • 8 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips ok)
  • 1 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grind the cookies in a food processor or crush by hand until they are fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over the ground cookies, and either pulse in processor or mix by hand until combined. Press into a 9-inch fluted tart pan. Bake 10-15 minutes, until it is fragrant (light browning will be hard to detect on the dark chocolate wafers). Cool to room temperature.
  2. In a heavy medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Do not stir. Brush down the sides of the pan every 5 minutes with a pastry brush dipped in water to keep crystals from forming. Continue cooking until the caramel is a deep golden brown, keeping a watchful eye on the pot so it doesn't burn. Remove the pan from heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. The hot caramel will bubble, so be careful--if it hits your hand, it WILL hurt. Whisk in the chilled butter pieces. Add the sea salt, whisking to comine. Pour half of the caramel into the cooled chocolate crust. Chill until firm in the refrigerator, at least one hour.
  3. Near the end of your cooling period, prepare the ganache. Place the chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl. Over medium heat, bring the cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  4. Gently pour the ganache over the firm caramel, spreading with an offset spatula. Chill until firm, at least one hour. When slicing, use a warm knife (hold under hot water and dry before using)and wipe off the blade between cuts. Sprinkle each slice with more salt, and serve immediately.

Buy the book: Edible Seattle: The Cookbook.

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Blueberry-White Chocolate Cream Ginger Tart

Blueberry-White Chocolate Cream Ginger Tart

CakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

Even though this contains fruit, which always makes me suspicious that it might be health food, it also has sugar cookie dough and plenty of cream involved in the process--so I deem it acceptable. "Create a sweet new cookie dessert using Pillsbury® sugar cookie dough, cream cheese and fresh blueberries!" says the inventor and Pillsbury Bake-Off finalist Alice Wilson of Fairport, New York.

Blueberry White Chocolate Cream Ginger Tart

8 servings

  • 1 roll Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground Ginger
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
  • 1 bag (12 oz) Hershey’s® premier white baking chips
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let cookie dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  2. In medium bowl, break up cookie dough. Add flour, ground ginger, crystallized ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands, until well blended. Press dough evenly in bottom of pan.
  3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In medium microwavable bowl, microwave white chips on High 1 minute to 1 minute 45 seconds, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Add cream cheese, cream and lemon peel; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture over cooled crust. Arrange blueberries over cream cheese mixture; press into filling.
  5. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into wedges. Store in refrigerator.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Carrot Cake Tart

CakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

Laura Majchrzak of Hunt Valley, Maryland, is clearly a genius. Need I say much more than the blessed, wonderful, lovely words "Carrot Cake Tart"?

As Laura puts it, "Love carrot cake? Love pie? Bake them together in an ultimate dessert with cream cheese frosting and over-the-top caramel drizzle!"

Carrot Cake Tart

Serves 12

For the tart

  • 1Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 1/4cup LAND O LAKES® Unsalted Butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 1cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3cup light corn syrup
  • 2LAND O LAKES® Eggs
  • 2/3cup Pillsbury BEST® All Purpose Flour
  • 1teaspoon McCormick® Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2cup raisins
  • 1/2cup Fisher® Chef’s Naturals® Chopped Pecans


  • 2 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened  
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract


  • 12 whole Fisher® Praline Pecans
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s® caramel syrup
  • 12 carrot curls, if desired*


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place large cookie sheet on middle oven rack. Unroll pie crust; place in ungreased 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press crust firmly against bottom and side of pan; trim edges.
  2. In large bowl, beat 1/4 cup melted butter, brown sugar and corn syrup with electric mixer on medium speed until blended; beat in eggs until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; beat on low speed until blended. Stir in carrots, raisins and chopped pecans. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of crust-lined pan. Place tart on cookie sheet in oven.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until filling is set and deep golden brown. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 1 hour. Remove side of pan; place tart on serving plate.
  4. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 tablespoons butter with electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat on low speed until creamy. Frost cooled tart. Place praline pecans evenly around edge of tart. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  5. To serve, cut into 12 wedges. Drizzle each serving with 2 teaspoons caramel syrup; garnish each with carrot curl. Store covered in refrigerator.


Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Orange Cream-Chocolate Tarts

Image: Pillsbury Bake-OffCakeSpy Note: I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have been invited as a media guest to the 45th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off in Orlando, Florida! The event will take place in late March; til then, I am going to feature several of the sweets finalists here in anticipation of the big day!

Riddle me this. When a creamsicle and a fudgesicle and a pie all come crashing together, what do you get? 

Probably something like these orange cream chocolate tarts, a sweet invention by Lenore Klass of Koloa, Hawaii, whose creation is a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off this year.

As Lenore puts it, "Wow! Here's an individual dessert guaranteed to dazzle! Flaky pastry holds a hidden chocolate layer topped with a creamy orange filling."

To which I respond: "Wow! Get in my mouth, you beautiful thing." Here's the recipe. 

Orange Cream-Chocolate Tarts

Makes 6 tarts

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water  
  • 4 Egg Yolks, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate baking chips


  1. In small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water. In 2-quart heavy saucepan, stir together egg yolks, sugar, 1 tablespoon of the orange peel, orange juice, lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Cook over low heat, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until slightly thickened; remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter, gelatin and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla; stir until butter is melted. Fill large bowl with ice water; place saucepan in water. Cool egg mixture, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until thickened.
  2. In medium bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Reserve 1/2 cup of the whipped cream; refrigerate. Carefully fold orange mixture into remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate while preparing tart shells.
  3. Heat oven to 425°F. Cover outsides of 6 (6-oz) custard cups or ramekins with foil; spray with Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray. Place cups upside down on 15x10-inch pan with sides. Unroll pie crusts; roll each into 12-inch round. Using 4 1/2-inch scalloped or round cookie cutter, cut 3 rounds from each crust. Place dough round over back of each custard cup, pressing dough to fit around cup. Prick dough several times with fork.
  4. Bake shells 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Carefully remove shells from cups; place open side up, on cooling rack.
  5. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and remaining 1 tablespoon butter on High 10 to 20 seconds, stirring every 10 seconds, until smooth. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Brush thick coating of chocolate mixture over bottom and up side of inside of each shell. Let stand 5 minutes or until set.
  6. Evenly divide orange filling among shells. Top tarts with reserved whipped cream and remaining 1 tablespoon orange peel. Refrigerate 1 hour (filling will be soft). Store covered in refrigerator.

Honey, I'm Home: Pear and Honey Custard Tart Recipe from Macrina Bakery

Image: Macrina BakeryOh, hey, honey.

Whatcha doin', honey?

Whatcha want to eat, honey?

The answer: Pear and Honey Custard Tart. This recipe comes by way of Macrina Bakery, and is 100% delicious.

Here's how you make it happen in your own home.

Pear and Honey Custard Tart

Makes 1 (10-inch) tart

  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1 recipe Sweet Almond Dough at room temperature (recipe below)
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 3/4  cup granulated sugar
  • 3 pears, peeled, halved, and cored
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely grind in food processor. Set aside for garnishing the tart.
  3. Using your fingers, press the Sweet Almond Dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Form an even crust, about 1/8 inch thick, over the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. (It's important that the crust be the same thickness on the bottom and the sides.) Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Line the chilled tart shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or baking weights. Bake on center rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Carefully remove paper and beans and set tart shell aside to cool. Leave the oven on.
  5. Combine wine and sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Gently place pears in hot wine, rounded sides down, and poach for 7 to 10 minutes, or until pears are fork-tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Continue simmering the poaching liquid until it has reduced by half its volume, then set it aside to use as glaze on the finished tart.
  6. Combine cream, honey, eggs, flour, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a medium bowl. Mix well with a whisk.
  7. Place cooled, pre-baked tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the poached pears in half again lengthwise and arrange them in the bottom of the tart shell. (At the bakery we like to spread the slices out in a fan-like pattern.) Pour the custard filling over the pears, filling the shell to just below the top. Place baking sheet on center rack of oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until custard is set and golden brown. Let the tart cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan.
  8. Warm the reduced wine glaze over a low heat until it thins, then brush the surface of the tart with a little glaze. Sprinkle ground toasted almonds around the outer edge.

Sweet Almond Dough

This cookie-like dough is easy to make and even easier to work with. Rather than rolling out the dough, you simply press it into the tart pans by hand.


  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1  1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2  teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely grind in a food processor. Measure out 2 tablespoons of ground almonds and set aside. (The remaining ground almonds will not be needed.)
  3. Combine 2 tablespoons of the ground almonds, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, mix together vanilla extract, almond extract and melted butter. Add butter mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until coarse and crumbly, using your hands to break up any large lumps. The finished dough will stick together when squeezed between your thumb and forefinger.
  4. At this point, the dough is ready to be pressed into a tart ring. It doesn't need to be chilled. If you're not ready to bake with the dough, pack it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. The wrapped dough can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. It's a good idea to double wrap the dough before freezing it.
  5. Frozen Sweet Almond Dough needs to be fully defrosted before it's used. My preferred method is to transfer the dough to the refrigerator 1 day in advance. Generally this crumbly dough is pressed into tart pans by hand rather than rolled out, but once it has been frozen the dough will be quite firm. In this case, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick and fit it into the desired tart man. The dough will probably crack when you lift it, but don't worry. Simply pinch the cracks together with your fingers to repair.


Are You Ready for this Jelly? Peanut Butter and Jelly Tart Recipe for Serious Eats

The problem with the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich? Like most childhood treats, it's rarely as delicious as you remember. However, there's a way to update this classic in a totally sweet way: turn it into a tart. Anchored by a substantial buttery shortbread crust, this peanut butter and jelly pie is sophisticated enough to satisfy adult palates—after all, it's an adaptation of the Rosemary-Scented Date-Nut Bars from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark—but simple and tasty enough to please eaters of all ages.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!