I love lemon desserts. Given a choice between chocolate and lemon, I'd go with lemon 3 times out of 5 (not based on scientific data). And in the winter months, when fresh fruit isn't always all it's cracked up to be, lemons will continue to wow with a pop of flavor.
This torte seems a little complex, but is really two fairly simple parts – a nut-based dough that comprises both the top and the bottom of the tart, and a lemon curd filling that packs a huge punch of flavor. You may have your own favorite lemon curd recipe, but my new top choice is the version I share below, which is made in the microwave. It brings this recipe to an even quicker, easier place. I recommend making the curd in advance so it can be completely cold before filling the shell.
There are a lot of flavors found in this one dessert – almonds, hazelnuts, cinnamon, cloves and of course lemon, but they all seamlessly meld in to one delicious mouthful.
¾ cup sugar
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1½ sticks (6 ounces/12 tablespoons) butter or margarine, softened
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 ounce hazelnuts, ground (about 1/4 cup)*
1 1/2 ounces almonds, ground (about 1/3 cup)*
1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups lemon curd (recipe below)
Mix the sugar and zest together with your fingers until moistened, set aside.
Beat the butter for two minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and beat until combined.
Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.
Whisk together the flour, ground nuts, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder and salt, and add to the mixture. Beat until just combined. Divide the dough in to two parts, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap the larger portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Place the remaining portion in a pastry bag and keep at room temperature.
After the dough is chilled, press it in to the bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 10" tart pan. Stick the pan in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Evenly spread the lemon curd in the bottom of the tart pan. Pipe the remaining dough in criss-crossing lines on top of the curd. Bake on 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes.
Sift confectioners sugar on top of the tart immediately before serving.
*If you are grinding your own nuts, grind them together with the flour so they do not form a paste.
**Note: I will freely admit that after I ground my nuts, I then added the rest of my dry ingredients, then the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla and made up the dough in the food processor. Because I am lazy. It worked fine – perhaps not as well mixed as in a stand mixer.
Microwave Lemon Curd:
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
4 teaspoons lemon zest (1-2 lemons)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and zest and whisk to combine.
Stir in the melted butter until smooth.
Microwave on high, stopping to stir every minute, for 3 1/2 to 5 minutes, until just thickened. Refrigerate in a sealed container until cold.
*For use in this torte, err on the side of undercooked, since it will cook again in the oven.