Grapefruit Lemon Tart

Tender, buttery crust is filled with vibrant Grapefruit and Lemon curd before being topped with clouds of hand-whipped cream.  Bake this sunny tart to chase away those winter blues as we await spring's arrival!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

It was probably the promise of a zesty, vibrant filling, the dreamy clouds of whipped cream, or the hope of spring in the near future that caught your attention.  Yes, all of these are important parts of the narrative, but the story of this Grapefruit Lemon Tart actually revolves around the crust.

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

My go-to tart crust was already close to perfection.  But in true Tessa form, I wanted to test out a few recipes to see if I could come up with something better.  The pate sablée that I’ve used in the past is tender, sandy, buttery and almost cookie-like.  It has a great “snap” to it and reminds me of shortbread.  Pretty great, right?  But unlike most other pastry dough, this recipe called for softened butter.  

Since I primarily work with cake and buttercream, I usually have a few sticks of butter coming to room temperature on my kitchen counter at all times.  The idea of working with softened butter is very familiar to me, but not usually when it comes to pies and tarts.  Even though I love the taste and texture of this pastry dough, I started to question why I was softening butter just so I could turn around and refrigerate it, not once but, twice before it finally went into the oven?

There must be another way!!  After a bit of research, sure enough, there is another way.  This method, like most pastry and pie dough, calls for super cold butter.  It too comes together in a shaggy mess, but instead of rolling it out smooth, you press the crust crumbles into the pie tin before baking.  Voila!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream
Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

Truth time guys – I still prefer my old way.  Maybe it’s because we are creatures of habit or perhaps I just haven’t perfect the “press into the pan” technique just yet, but I kind of like my softened butter way.  One of the biggest turn-offs for my original recipe is probably the fact that you have to roll out the dough, but in the end, this is what I prefer.  If you roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper, then it doesn’t stick (usually the first headache that comes to mind when you think about rolling pie dough).  Rolling the dough creates even thickness in the baked crust.  Trying to press in the crumbly dough pieces was difficult for me since I couldn’t tell/feel how even it was until after it baked.  I tried my best to create even thickness, but in the end the bottom was fairly thick (especially the corners) and I ended up handling the dough waaaaay more than if I has rolled it out.  And since with pastry the more you mix and work the dough the tougher it bakes up, this was not a good thing.  And, there is still some chilling involved.  Of course I will give you both methods to try out, but personally, I prefer waiting for my butter to soften and even then having to roll it out as opposed to uneven, thick tart shells.  The taste is great and it browned beautifully, but I will leave it to you to decide which recipe to choose.  Lastly, I prefer to make my pastry dough in the stand mixer or by hand.  I know by hand may seem like more work, but I prefer it over having to take out and wash my food processor, hehe.

Okay, now onto the filling!  I thought spring was near, but Mother Nature decided to give us another round of snow.  Snow in March?  In Vancouver?  This is not normal.  I decided to make the most of it and bake up one last winter citrus dessert for the season.  Inspired by Yossy Arefi’s incredible book, Sweeter of the Vine, I put together this Grapefruit Lemon Tart.  The filling comes together like lemon curd then endures a short bake until it is slightly puffed and set.  The sweetened whipped cream is optional, unless you let plastic wrap touch the top of your tart (like I did) and you need to give it a last-minute make over.  I mean, I meant to do that!  Enjoy!

Grapefruit Lemon Tart Recipe with whipped cream

Grapefruit Lemon Tart
adapted from Sweeter of the Vine
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and softened
par-baked tart shell (recipe to follow)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, and salt.  Stir in the grapefruit and lemon juice.  Place the butter in a heat-safe dish or large glass measuring cup and set aside.

Place the saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly but slowly until the mixture thickens and registers 170 degrees (about 8 to 10 minutes).   Do not let the mixture come to a boil or it will curdle.

Once hot and thick strain the curd with a mesh sieve over the butter.  Stir until combined.
Pour the citrus curd into the partially baked crust.  Bake until the edges of the curd puff up but the center still wiggles when you move the pan (about 20 minutes).  Cool at room temperature for about 20 minutes before refrigerating.  Allow the tart to set in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight before slicing.  Top with whipped cream, if desired. 


Sweet Pastry Dough
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1 egg yolk
1 to 2 tablespoons ice cold water

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the bits of butter are about the size of a pea.  Stir in the egg yolk.

Working with only a teaspoon or two at a time, gradually add just enough water so that when you press the dough together it stay intact. The dough should still be shaggy and crumbly when done.  Do not at too much water.

Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan.  Start by pressing the dough up the sides as evenly as possible, then fill in the bottom.  Reserve a bit of the dough to repair any cracks that may occur during baking.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as you pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Once chilled, line the tart pan with foil, shinny-side down.  Fill with pie weights or dry beans and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the tart pan from the oven and very carefully take out the weights and foil.  At this point, patch up any minor craks with the reserved dough.

Return the tart back to the oven for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is light golden brown.  If the center puffs up during baking, gently press is back down with a piece of foil or parchment paper.

Resume recipe for the Grapefruit Lemon Tart, or cool completely before wrapping in plastic.  The tart shell may be stored wrapped well in the refrigerator for a couple of days or frozen in the freezer for a few months.


Whipped Cream
¾ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
splash vanilla extract

By hand of with an electric mixer, whip the cream until it begins to thicken.  Add the sugar and whip until soft peaks.  Add the vanilla and whip until medium/firm peaks.  By hand, this will take about 3 to 5 minutes.  Do not over-mix.

Classic Chocolate Tart

A silky ganache encased in a tender crust and topped with the ripest of summer berries.  Sink your fork (or teeth!) into this luscious chocolate filling and feel the "snap" of the buttery crust.  Forever a classic and always a great choice.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

While some recipes are filled with sprinkles and slathered with cookie frosting, other pastries only call for the purest of ingredients and simple, yet exquisite flavors.  I’m talking about this classic chocolate tart.  I’m talking about a crisp, buttery pate sablee crust filled with luscious chocolate ganache.  No drippy caramel or yogurt-covered diamonds needed.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

I spend a lot of my energy thinking about and baking up sky-high layer cakes.  I’m always trying to re-invent traditional recipes and introduce new flavors in the most dramatic, show-stopping ways.  But somedays I dream of classic French pastry.  I find myself escaping the scene of scattered toys around the living room, the piles of dishes/laundry/mail/etc, and all the other chaos that comes with having an active toddler by dreaming of kaleidoscope-like fruit tarts, jewel-toned macarons, meticulously layered entremets, and the purest of tartes aux chocolat.

When working with something as pure and unadulterated as the ganache in this tart, ingredients matter.  Splurging on high-quality chocolate that is going to be baked into a cake and potentially overshadowed and diluted by mounds of fudge frosting might seem frivolous, but when the chocolate accounts for 50% of the ingredients, it is not senseless but imperative.  When I opened the box of Valhrona chocolate that arrived at my doorstep it was like opening a box of gold.  I tend to hoard my good chocolates, saving them for special occasions and superior recipes.  So when I was trying to decide what to make first with my new haul, I knew it would be something that really made the flavours of the chocolate shine.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

The ganache in this tart is no doubt the star of the show.  I love a nice butter crust and fresh summer berries, but let’s get real.  This tart is all about that silky chocolate filling.  And rightfully so!  I decided to combine Valhrona's 70% dark chocolate and dreamy 36% Caramelia to make this smooth, luscious, slightly creamy semi-sweet filling.  Pair it with the a sandy, tender shortcrust and the ripest of summer berries and you are golden!  The perfect treat for anything from Tuesday afternoon coffee break to a fanciful dinner party.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.
Chocolate Tart with butter crust and berries.

Instead of a flakey crust made with cold butter, I prefer the more cookie-like crust of a pate sablee.  Made with softened butter and confectioner’s sugar, this type of pastry is similar to shortbread cookies instead of a typical pie crust.  I find that not only is it easier and much more forgiving to make, the crisp base is the perfect texture to contrast the silky ganache.  I love how my fork sinks through the ganache and “snaps” into the crust.  You can read more about my love for this shortcrust pasty from The Kitchn’s Baking School last fall.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.

Classic Chocolate Tart

For the Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons cream, as needed

For the Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3.5 ounces 35% Caramelia or milk chocolate
6 ounces dark chocolate

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until creamy.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Once combined, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt.  Mix only until the last streaks of flour start to disappear.  Do not overmix.  When done, the dough should hold when pressed together.  If it is too dry, add in the cream as needed.

Turn out the down on top of a piece of plastic wrap.  Gather the dough and press it into a disk.  Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to roll, allow the dough to rest at room temperature until some-what pliable, about 10 minutes.  Roll between two pieces of parchment paper until 10 to 12 inched in diameter. 

Remove the top layer of parchment and carefully invert the dough into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Remove the other piece of parchment then lift and fit the dough into the corners of the pan.  Trim the edges by running a paring knife around the top edge of the pan.  Fill in any holes with the scraps as needed.  Wrap loosely in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the crust has chilled, line the bottom and sides with a piece of foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After it has partially baked, remove the tart and baking sheet from the oven.  Carefully remove the foil and pie weights.

Return the tart crust to the oven and continue to bake until slightly golden, about 5 to 10 more minutes.  Completely cool on a wire wrack before filling.

While the tart shell is cooling, make the filling.  Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. 

Place the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer.  Once hot, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate.  Let stand for one minute, then whisk to combine.

Pour the ganache filling into the cooled tart shell.  Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Decorate with fresh berries before serving. 

Store leftover loosely covered in plastic in the refrigerator.