This tart uses one and a half whole lemons, including the juice, pulp, pith, and zest. I suppose it isn’t technically the whole lemon — I did remove the seeds. Nevertheless, I washed a lemon, dried it off, cut it into chunks, mixed it with sugar, and blended the whole thing in a mixer to form the base for this custard. I felt like a real rebel including that white pith. I mean, how many recipes have you read that caution you to be very careful to get just the outermost rind when zesting a lemon lest you accidentally include some of the “bitter pith.” It’s always described as “bitter pith.” What kind of recipe just chunks a lemon, pith and all?
Well, this one does. And it’s really cool. The finished product really shows off the whole lemon: it’s tart, but it’s also kind of woody and a tiny bit bitter and pleasingly sour. Complex: that’s probably the word I’m looking for. It reminds me of some of the more interesting white wines I’ve had, the ones that aren’t dominated by citrus, vanilla, and oak (delicious as those qualities may be). They’re grassy or minerally, with flavors of hay and cat’s pee, and that makes them all the more interesting and memorable.
The same is true for this lemon tart. The whole lemon brings layers of flavor that wouldn’t be there if we simply cherry-picked the lovely zest or the tart juice. Heck, maybe next time I’ll throw the seeds in there, too.
I halved the recipe and made miniature lemon tarts with a shortbread crust. You’ll notice a sprinkling of lovely gold flecks on top. Can you guess what those are? Crumbled amaretti cookies, left over from the lovely chocolate amaretti torte we made last month.