A Tarter Torta

In keeping with my passion for anything custard, here’s a dessert that goes beyond that simple criteria. As a matter of fact, the custard gets lost in translation as the lemony custard-like layer and crust meld into a lovely Lemon Torta.

This is another one of those excellent desserts that I tend to forget altogether – until I am looking for a lemon “something”. It has a few other built-in advantages, such as it can be made as much as two days ahead. If you are entertaining, this is certainly a handy bonus, since the last thing you want to worry about is the dessert! I affectionately refer to the Lemon Torta as one of my “soldiers” because it is nearly indestructible and it is best served at room temperature. Clearly, we have the perfect candidate for potlucks, picnics, and sundry other recreational dining opportunities.

This torta has the additional advantage of being light and reminiscent of cheesecake (if you consider cheesecake light). It’s a refreshing finish to a seafood meal or even a heavy Italian feast. To paraphrase the words of Shakespeare, “The sauce is the thing,” and as is the case with cheesecake, the sauce matters. In order for your Lemon Torta to really sing, consider even the smallest dab of a lovely sauce to play an integral part.

For my particular dinner (and my breakfast the following day) I opted for a very fresh Raspberry Sauce (essentially Glazed Raspberries). I made the sauce with part of my raspberries and simmered them briefly with a bit of water and sugar, when they released their juices and became syrupy I removed the pan from the heat and added a squeeze of lemon juice – or splash of a complementary liqueur, if you wish. I strained this, returned the liquid to the pan, added the rest of berries, gently heated it briefly to combine the flavors, and then allowed it to cool.

Lemon Torta
From Entertaining for a Veggie Plane by Didi Emmons

Crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Filling:
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 lemons, rind grated and juice of
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 9″ springform pan or 8″ square pan.

Crust: In food processor combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until crumbly, about 10 seconds. Add the egg, vanilla and 2 teaspoons water, pulse until the dough just comes together.

Transfer dough to prepared pan, pressing down lightly to make even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust begins to brown around the edges. Transfer pan to cooling rack.

For filling: In mixing bowl combine eggs and sugar and beat about 5 minutes, until very pale. Add rind and juice and incorporate; Sift dry ingredients over egg mixture and fold them in. Pour filling over the crust and bake until golden brown and knife comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool on rack completely. Unmold and cut into wedges. Serve with a fresh sauce, fresh raspberries or other fruit, or whipped cream.

This is best made a day ahead, can be held up to 4 days ahead, covered well. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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