Tartelettes aux Citron

Very Lemon Tarts

Lemon Crust

1/2 pound flour
2 tablespoons sugar
zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
1/2 pound chilled unsalted butter, cut in pea-size chunks
2 drops pure lemon oil (or 4 drops of an oil-based lemon flavoring)
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

Sift flour and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in lemon zest. Working quickly, cut in cold butter until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.

Pour lemon oil into ice water. Sprinkle flour with 2 tablespoons of ice water and lemon oil mixture. With your hands, work dough until it forms a ball (if mixture does not hold together, gradually add up to 1 tablespoon ice water). Do not overwork. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick, line 6 to 8 individual tart pans, and prick with a fork.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chill uncooked tart shells for at least 30 minutes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden (put a handful of uncooked dry beans in each pan to keep dough from puffing up on the bottom). Cool on a rack.

Lemon Filling

2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar
6 whole eggs and 1 extra egg yolk
1/3 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 drops lemon oil (or 4 drops of an oil-based lemon flavoring)
1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (for garnish)
1 cup or more fresh berries of your choice (for garnish)
12 or more mint leaves or sprigs (for garnish)

In a saucepan over high heat, boil lemon juice and sugar to make a syrup; set aside. Put eggs and egg yolk in a mixing bowl. Stir a small amount of hot syrup into eggs. Pour the egg mixture into remaining syrup mixture and whisk vigorously over medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in cold cream, and add butter a small amount at a time, whisking continuously. If lumpy, put through a fine strainer. Add lemon oil and let cool, stirring often to prevent lumps, about 10 minutes.

To serve, dust tart shells with powdered sugar and spoon in lemon filling. Garnish with berries and mint. Serves 6 to 8.