I had a sudden flash of madness the other night. I mean, what else can you call it other than insanity to be sitting in the living room at 9pm on a Monday evening and then out of nowhere having a sudden idea to bake Lemon Creme Brulee Tart? What’s even crazier is once I got the idea, I wasted no time in searching for recipes online, happy to discover that I had all the ingredients needed in my pantry and proceeded to bake immediately. A few hours later, in the ungodly hours of super late night/early morning, I was digging into my homemade Lemon Creme Brulee Tart with a spoon and a satisfied smile on my face. Desserts can do really strange things to people. :P
I think I must’ve written somewhere before that I’ve gone on a citrus kick when it comes to the dessert train. Chocolate, I hardly crave for. Lemony, lime-y, citrusy flavours though, A BIG YES every time. I feel that the citrus flavor is so refreshing, it’s like you get hit by a burst of sunshine with each bite and it makes me feel involuntarily cheery and soothed whenever I inhale the citrus aroma. I’ve taken to frequently having a bunch of either limes or lemons (or both) in my kitchen these days. Most of the time I don’t get to use them all up in my cooking, but they just look so darn pretty displayed on my dining table or kitchen countertop. Heck, looking at the bright colors alone cheers me up already. When they’re about to expire, I’d whip out my cherished microplane grater and grate the skin to yield lemon zest or lime zest. For what, you ask? *shrug* I dunno, for no other reason other than releasing the aromatic oils and freshening up my kitchen space. It’s both uplifting and calming at the same time.
So as it happened, that night there were a bunch of lemons sitting in my kitchen. Although for this recipe you don’t even need that many. Just the juice and zest of one lemon suffices. (Except that I cranked up the recipe and used the juice and zest of two lemons.) I also modified the original recipe I found via Epicurious.com and added cocoa powder to the crust so that I could have chocolate-flavored crust instead of the usual butter crust. That turned out to be a really good move because the pairing of lemon and chocolate was an incre-cre-cre-dibly perfect match.
Given that this was in the middle of the night when I was baking and I had to let the dough chill for two hours in the fridge, I was getting a little bit antsy while waiting. After about two and half hours (I watched Magic Mike while waiting – what an entertaining flick that was, sorry I digress…) I took the dough out and started assembling my tart crust. I wanted to use my 9″ tart pan with removable bottom at first, but I noticed my dough was on the soft side so I decided to use brulee ramekins instead since it was much easier to handle. I probably should’ve left the dough chilling for a while longer so that it would be firmer to handle. Just nice that this recipe yielded enough dough to cover four brulee ramekins.
In summary, I am really excited to share that this Lemon Creme Brulee Tart with Chocolate Crust is so super duper easy to make. I know the name sounds intimidating but seriously, making it is a breeze. The final result and taste are so presentable and elegant too. This will definitely be a crowd-pleaser next time when I make it for special dinner parties at home. The only thing that I felt slightly sour about (heh, me and my pun) is my kitchen torch is out of butane and I haven’t had the chance to refill it, ugh. Otherwise, my tarts would’ve looked so much prettier with the caramelized burnt sugar.
LEMON CREME BRULEE TART WITH CHOCOLATE CRUST
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 teaspoons (or more) chilled whipping cream
1 egg white, beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
Lemon slices (optional)
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor; blend 5 seconds. Using short pulses, blend in butter until coarse meal forms. Add 4 teaspoons cream. Using on/off short pulses, blend until moist clumps form, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap and chill at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. (Or as in my case, four flat brulee ramekins.) Fold overhang in, pressing to form double-thick sides. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 18 minutes (small cracks may appear). Brush inside of hot crust twice with egg white. Maintain oven temperature.
Whisk 3/4 cup sugar, cream, yolks, and eggs in bowl to blend well. Mix in lemon juice and lemon peel. Pour filling into warm crust. Bake until filling is slightly puffed at edges and set in center, about 30 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
Preheat broiler. Place tart on baking sheet. Cover edge of crust with foil to prevent burning. Sprinkle tart with 2 tablespoons sugar. Broil tart until sugar melts and caramelizes, turning sheet for even browning, about 2 minutes. Transfer tart to rack. Cool until topping is crisp, about 1 hour.
Push tart pan bottom up, releasing tart. Place on platter, garnish with lemon slices, if desired, and serve.