Blood Orange Tart
Who else gets way more excited about lemon tarts than about chocolate cakes?
(And who else is– or was– eternally tempted yet intimidated by lemon tart recipes? Read on!)
Maybe I’m the odd one out, but even with all of the chocolate-y icing-smeared treats out there, tangy fruit tarts are my kind of dessert– and this one takes the cake.
Sweet and sour. Fresh and citrusy. Practically as refreshing as it is indulgent.
I made this tart last week to welcome my parents to California and to celebrate my mom’s birthday. (The perks of having a food blogger for a daughter!) …but then I sliced myself a piece to take these photos, even before my parents had arrived. (The downside of having a food blogger for a daughter!)
We’ve been getting these mini blood oranges from our local farmer’s market stand, and they are insanely tart and addictive. Touch one little wedge to your tongue, and you’ll have a full-body reaction to the surprising sourness, but one second later, you’ll be going back for more. (This makes them extra delightful in last week’s citrusy kale salad…) They must not be quite as sour as lemons, or I wouldn’t be able to eat them with such relish, but they come close enough that I knew this tart recipe would work with exactly the same amount of sugar I’d use for a lemon tart (or a lemon/lime tart!). I’m sure you could substitute any type of citrus juice, but you might want to reduce the sugar a bit if you’re using sweeter fruit.
This has become my go-to dinner party dessert recipe, not just because it’s my preferred dessert to eat, but also because it can be made ahead, you can serve it chilled or not, and the active prep time is only about 40 minutes.
The vibrant magenta-red of the blood oranges didn’t stick around quite as I’d hoped it would– dulled a bit by the hint of lemon juice and the rich egg yolks– but there were no complaints about the flavor!
This recipe is based on Alice Medrich’s lemon tart from her book Pure Dessert. All of the recipes I’ve tried so far from that cookbook have worked perfectly, but the lemon tart recipe is a curious exception: follow it exactly and it will leave you with a pathetically meager amount of the luscious lemon filling. (I discovered this, sadly, when hosting a dinner party.) Double the filling ingredients, on the other hand– as I’ve done below, and now you have a tart! (So I suppose you could say the recipe is practically perfect.)
My discovery about this little glitch in the recipe was no one-time fluke; I’ve made the tart four times in the past month, each time doubling the filling ingredients from those in the cookbook to better fill out the crust. (I’ve even pondered tripling the filling, but my eyes might be bigger than my tart pan.) Yet how this happened is a mystery to me! If anyone else has a clue as to why this otherwise perfect cookbook would instruct you to create barely enough tart filling to cover the entire surface area of the crust, I’d love to hear it.
But enough grumbling about the details. I love this recipe! And I hope you will all find it to be just as approachable, simple, and rewarding as I have.
Thank you, Alice Medrich, for helping me overcome any intimidation I once felt at the prospect of baking a lemon tart.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Blood Orange Tart
(Adapted from “Lemon Tart” in Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich.)
~ 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
~ ¼ cup sugar
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ ⅛ tsp. salt
~ 1 cup all-purpose flour
~ 2 large eggs
~ 2 large egg yolks
~ ½ cup fresh blood orange juice (I used 5 small blood oranges)
~ 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (or from ½ a lemon)
~ ½ cup sugar
~ 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
~ grated zest of 1 small blood orange and ½ lemon
~ fresh mint leaves, for garnishing and serving
Special equipment needed:
~ 9 ½-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom
~ fine mesh strainer
How to make it:
1. Move a rack to the lower third of the oven, and pre-heat to 350 degrees.
2. Make the crust: in a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Then use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour, just until well blended. Turn the dough out into the tart pan, and press it thinly and evenly around the sides of the pan and across the bottom.
3. Place the pan on a baking sheet, and bake until the crust becomes golden brown, for 20-25 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes to see if the dough has puffed up from the bottom of the pan; if so, use the back of a fork to press those spots down, and prick it in each of those areas.) Once the crust is ready, you can remove the baking sheet from the oven, but keep the oven on.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Assemble a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set aside. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs and yolks together, then set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the blood orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, butter, and optionally zest* over medium heat, until it comes to a simmer. Then gradually pour the hot liquid over the eggs, while whisking them continuously. Transfer the whole mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat, and continue to whisk until it thickens (and begins to simmer around the edges).
* This zest will flavor the tart, but won’t show up in the final product once strained. If you want the zest to speckle your filling, wait and add it after step #5, right before pouring the filling into the crust.
5. Pour the thickened mixture into the strainer and tap the strainer against the bowl to send the filling through. You can use a rubber spatula to help things along, but only press very gently on the mixture– you don’t want to push any bits of cooked egg white through the strainer. Make sure your spatula has no cooked egg whites on it, and use it to scrape any filling clinging to the bottom of the strainer into the bowl.
6. Pour the filling into the hot crust, spreading it evenly and making the surface as smooth as possible with a rubber spatula, then return it to the oven for 5 minutes to set the filling. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely before covering and/or transferring to the fridge. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve at room temperature, or chilled. (It will keep nicely for up to three days in the fridge.)
Print this recipe! (PDF)