Tartsy Fartsy

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What seems to be a million years ago, my parents occasionally treated the whole family to delicate pastries after long Sunday afternoon walks in the wilderness that is the Lake Geneva waterfront. (It’s really not quite as posh and fancy as it might sound, when you live there. Except for the pastries.)
Caraques, Mille-Feuilles and Tartelettes au Citron were usually our top picks.

The first vegan version I made of the tartlets was apparently a bit too tart for a few of the whole grain cookbook testers, so I reduced the amount of lemon juice in the curd and everyone’s happy again.
I personally still prefer using the full cup of juice, instead of diluting it with 1/3 cup water. Maybe my lemons are weaker than most, or I really do love me some tart stuff.
Since the tartness of lemons and personal taste vary, try it once as written, and if it’s not tart enough for you, up the juice while nixing the same amount of water until you get the tartness of your dreams.

I’ve made different variations of it (see them below the recipe), and now there’s not an inch of fridge storage that doesn’t have a jar of curd on it.
Good thing I have a hazelnut shortbread fingers recipe coming up shortly in case it happens to your fridge, too.

Tartelettes au Citron:

For the crust:
3/4 cup (90 g) whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup (35 g) raw cashews
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons (42 g) raw agave nectar or (30 ml) pure maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons (28 to 42 g) coconut oil, melted
Nonstick cooking spray

For the curd:
2/3 cup (160 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons (110 ml) water, divided
1/2 cup (70 g) raw cashews (if your blender isn’t very efficient, cover these with water and soak for 6 hours in the fridge, draining and rinsing before use)
2/3 cup (222 g) raw agave nectar or (160 ml) pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (16 g) cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional

Fresh raspberries to decorate, optional

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C or gas mark 3). Lightly coat six 3-inch (8-cm) Fluted French Tart Quiche Pans with spray.
Combine flour, cashews and salt in a food processor. Process until the cashews are finely ground. Add the agave nectar and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of oil at first, pulsing to combine. Add the extra tablespoon (15 ml) of oil if the dough does not hold together when pinched.
Knead a few times and divide into 6 equal portions. Press down each portion in each prepared pan. Use the tines of a fork to lightly prick each crust bottom.
Bake 12 minutes, turn off the oven, and leave the crusts in the oven for 6 more minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. Once the pans are cool enough to handle, carefully pop the crusts out of the pans, and let the crusts further cool on the rack.

To make the curd: Combine the juice, 1/3 cup (80 ml) water, cashews, and agave in a blender. Blend until perfectly smooth. If your blender is not efficient enough to obtain perfect smoothness, use a fine mesh sieve to sift any tiny pieces of cashews. Place this preparation in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Combine the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) water in a small bowl to create a slurry. Lower the heat of the lemon mixture, add the cornstarch slurry in it while stirring constantly, and cook on medium heat until thickened a bit, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, still stirring, add the optional zest, and let cool.

Once the crusts are cool and the curd too, fill each crust with curd. Place a few raspberries on each tartlet, to decorate. Chill the tartlets for a couple of hours before eating them. If you won’t eat all the tartlets the day you make them, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. They are best enjoyed within a day of preparation. There will be a little curd left over, which should also be stored in the fridge.

Yield: 6 tartlets

Curd Variations:
• Use 1/3 cup of the refrigerated kind of coconut milk instead of 1/3 cup water, for creamier results.
• For a lime version, simply replace the lemon juice with lime juice. FYI, I used good-quality bottled lime juice instead of juicing actual limes, because I’m the world’s unluckiest lime shopper. All the ones I buy are always Sahara-dry.
• For a raspberry-lemon (or raspberry-lime) version, simply add 1/2 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) berries to the recipe before blending.
• For an orange version, simply use 2/3 cup fresh orange juice (blood orange juice would be great too), and combine with 1/3 cup lemon or lime juice.

  • Kelly C says:

    You already know my love of the tarts and curd but all the variations are blowing my mind! Time to stock up on cashews and maple syrup!

    • Celine says:

      We’re going through maple syrup jugs like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe we should cut the middleman and get ourselves a maple tree?

  • donatella says:

    the crust: cashews? I never uses it in my crust, great idea!
    the curd: mmm, love it! other vegan curd are full of margarine or veg fat and sugar and poor in lemon.. yours looks healty and tasty, great!

  • trina says:

    Oh my word, I am so excited about your and Ms. Newman’s latest cookbook project. The recipe and just the whole thing look perfect. Nice work, as always.

  • joy says:

    This looks fantastic. Can’t wait to try and make them!

  • tawc says:

    how perfectly timed–the only thing i did to celebrate easter this year was to make a lemon tart, my favorite dessert. Usually, i make it quite tart, as i like the pucker, the zip at the back of your mouth that is undeniably the kiss of a lemon. I use meyer lemons to make mine–their unique, herbaceous flavour is something to savour–and, ironically considering your adjustment to suit your recipe testers popular vote, i usually make my curd quite tart, but this time it turned out as sweet as would be populary voted for. And though i am not a vegan, i have been using Earth Balance “butter” for a long while, to treat my actual vegan, and lactose intolerant, friends–but usually my crust turns out awful. The joke of an otherwise wonderful dinner. A bummer. But this time, it was perfect. Something to celebrate even if i wasnt really celebrating easter.

    glad someone else knows to celebrate a lovely lemon tart

    inspired to try an entirely vegan version

    ps: the title of your post of smilingly clever

    • Celine says:

      Sisters in mouth-puckering tartness! Glad to know I’m not the only one out there who likes it that way. Also glad that your crust ended up being perfect this time around!