Lemon Tart – French Laundry Meets Jello

I’m a freak (please hold off the chorus of “We Know!”) for lemon tarts. As a child, lemon meringue pie was my favorite desert. Though, to be honest, I could do without the meringue; thus my obsession with tart. Il Giardino is one of our favorite restuarants.  There’s nothing better than Old School Classy Italian. Sure, they call it fine dining, but when we’re talking Old School Italian, Classy is the word that fits.  I never leave that restuarant without finishing with their lemon tart and a wild card dessert.  We also have their Carpacio every single time. I start bubbling with saliva thinking of my faves as I make the reso. I love you, Umberto!  I’ve worked with him many times on the WhiteSpot ads.  Nice, funny guy.

Back to the lemon tart:  I also love serving it up for desert when I cook a monster dinner.  It’s light and fresh.  Capers has killer mini tart.  La Baguette on Granville Island has a great full-size tart. Meinhardts, as well, sells one of the best.  At home I’ve been experimenting.

Longing for something Italian, I went for a recipe from Mario Batali, Crostata di Lemone. The toasted almond crust rocked and the flavour was beautiful. Here comes the BUT:  I wasn’t much for the folding in of the egg whites.  It was a bit fluffy.  Not the texture I was looking for.

What I wanted was a fancy tart on the outside and Mom’s lemon pie (sans meringue) on the inside. I do a little more research and find a recipe on Epicurious that is the style of tart they do at French Laundry .  I dig what they’re doing with the crust but I’ve still got a boner for that pedestrian lemon filling from my childhood. This is the part where the food snobs call me names and try to make me cry.  I decide to go with Jello on the inside and fancy-pantsy on the outside. I like my tart to make me pucker so I amp up the lemon.  I have a sweet Omega juicer, so I juice two whole lemons, including rind. I add this potent liquid after I combine the cold water and the jello powder (before adding the hot water) and whisk like crazy.  This tart was magnificent.  Give this a try.  If you like lemon, you’ll love it.

Two final notes on the crust:  if you don’t have one yet, get a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom like the recipe calls for – it’s the only way to go.  Secondly, I made 1/3 of the tart recipe. They recommend to make enough for 3 tarts because the full recipe calls for only 1 egg.  I wisked 1 egg and thirded it as best I could, erring on the side of too much.  I probably added half an egg and the tart was perfect.

Okay, one last, last thing I forgot to mention: the jello recipe makes too much filling so just fill up the tart as much as you can.  I made the tart the day before, then refridgerated it covered. The next night I took it out and let it come to room tempeture for a couple of hours before I served it. The next time I make a lemon tart I’ll give the proper sabayon method (listed in the epicurious recipe) a chance.

Lemon Tart Recipe

Crust: from  Epicurious

Filling:  Lemon Jello, follow package directions, plus 2 lemons, rind on, juiced

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Categories: Food, Photos, Recipes

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One Comment on “Lemon Tart – French Laundry Meets Jello”

  1. Jennifer Wah
    April 19, 2008 at 10:05 pm #


    Your recipes are inspiring me – I just can’t keep up. 🙂

    So I want to make the lemon concoction tonight, but now you’ve got me confused… I assume you mean the Jello Pudding & Pie filling? – Not actual Jello. I know, the question’s a bit laughable, but I had to check. 🙂

    BTW, I think there could be a whole separate site/subsection of your site for people who believe they have the “original, authentic, secret” Colander spagh recipe! I know I have one, and it’s not the same as yours!

    Thanks for a great site – you are a most excellent writer. 🙂


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