A Tart Tarte au Citron Vert

Tarte au Citron Vert

When it comes to Tarte au Citron, it’s best to keep it simple. While it’s true that a Tarte au Citron possesses an air of elegance and Parisian grace – it shouldn’t be fussy. There’s no place for sky-high meringues or Cool-Whip toppings. We’ve got perfectly good lemon meringue and Key lime pies to fill that niche. Tarte au Citron is something else altogether – best served with nothing more than a sprinkle of zest. Though I wouldn’t object to a dollop of barely sweet, lightly whipped cream (as long as it was served on the side). A well-made Tarte au Citron has a one-two punch of sweet-tart that’s dazzling all on its own.

Its success lies in the vim of a slim but zippy filling barely supported by a delicate sweet-pastry crust – what those elegant Parisians call Pâte Sucrée. I’ve added a wisp of zest to the Pâte Sucrée in my Tarte au Citron for the second set of sweet-tart jabs. I think it’s a nice touch.

Limes are key to this Tarte au Citron Vert so use Key limes (also known as Mexican limes where I live) if you can find them. After all, you’ll want a tart tarte. But not too tart. This balance cannot be achieved with lime juice and sugar alone. Well, actually it can be achieved with lime juice and sugar alone if you choose the right limes. As I said limes are key, and Key limes have the right ripe pucker.

I realize you may not have a choice. If you can’t find Key limes you can use standard-issue limes from the grocery store. However, let them sit on the window sill for a few days after you buy them. They should begin to turn yellow. That’s when they’re at their juicy best. I’ve found that limes in the grocery store are often sold too “green”. Green limes have an astringency that can be unpleasant. The easy mistake is to overcompensate for the unpleasant pucker by adding more sugar. A ripe lime will have a sour tang, but it also has the natural sweetness from its own fully-ripened sugars. Which makes for a tart tarte with a sweet demeanor. GREG

Tarte au Citron VertTarte au Citron VertTarte aux Citron Verts

Tarte au Citron Vert 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 8Source Adapted from Diane MorganPublished
Tarte au Citron Vert


  • 340 gram all-purpose flour (about 3 cups, plus more for dusting)
  • 300 gram granulated sugar (about 1 ½ cup, divided)
  • 2 pinch kosher salt
  • zest of 2 limes (divided)
  • 220 gram unsalted butter (chilled and cut into ½‑inch dice)
  • 4 large egg yolks (chilled and divided)
  • 2 tablespoon ice water
  • 4 large eggs (chilled)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • lime zest (as garnish, optional)


Make the Pâté Sucrée: In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, 100 grams of sugar, salt, and half the lime zest. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 20 seconds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 egg yolks with ice water. With the machine running, add the egg/water mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together. It should hold together when pinched. If it is too crumbly, add more ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Form dough into a 2 discs disk about 5‑inches in diameter. Wrap separately in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill for at least 1 hour. You’ll only need 1 disc for this recipe save the other for another tart.

Prepare the crust: On a lightly floured surface using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll pastry dough to about a generous 12-inch round, a generous 1/8‑inch thick. Carefully fold the dough in half, and slide it onto a rolling pin. Transfer to a 9 or 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Unfold the dough, easing it gently into the pan; do not stretch the dough. Press the dough into place, then run your roller over the edges of the pan, trimming it flush with the top all the way around. Transfer pastry-lined tart pan to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled.

Meanwhile, set the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Once chilled, prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork, line with parchment paper that extends beyond the rim at least 1 ½‑inches all around. Fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake on center rack of heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights, and continue to bake until set and lightly golden, about 5–8 minutes more. Let the shell cool in the pan on a wire rack.

Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Make the filling: Whisk the eggs and the remaining 2 egg yolks together in a large bowl. Add cream, remaining 200 grams (1‑cup) sugar, remaining lime zest, and lime juice. Whisk until well incorporated.

Place the blind-baked tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour about half of the filling into the tart shell and move it (on its baking sheet) to the preheated oven. Use a small ladle or pitcher to add the remaining filling to the tart shell. Don’t overfill the shell, there may be some leftover depending on the size and depth of the tart pan. Bake it separately in small ramekins.

Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off, and without opening the door, leave the tart in the oven for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Slice and serve with additional lime zest as garnish (if using)