Lemon cream tart

Lemon cream tart

Lemon cream tart

My resumé looks like a tattered patchwork quilt. The pieces are fading and torn, the pattern strange and irregular, and it has giant gaps. Nothing quite reaches, nothing fits together. This makes it fun to apply for things! It’s a craft project!! First there’s the entirely practical and responsible career as an editor, then there’s the entirely irresponsible and impractical career as an independent film maker. And then both of these trails become lost in a tangle of overgrown undergrowth, a riot of branches and new green leaves and flowers and shifting sunshine and shadow. This is, of course, where the boys come along. And the decade of being a mom and a waitress and a once-and-future filmmaker, a filmmaker in my dreams, literally. Nobody wants to see that you were a mom or a waitress, nobody writes that on their resume. But I think maybe we should, because I genuinely believe that it makes you better at everything. Let’s taking writing, for instance, because that is what has me all-absorbed at the moment. One of my all time favorite quotes comes from Alyosha, whose elder tells him that we should “…care for most people exactly as one would for children…” Well, I think we should write about them that way as well! We should see them at their most vulnerable and needy, stripped bare and messy, but we should love them anyway. Even as we see all of their faults, we should feel an irresistible affection for them and generosity towards them. And surely this applies to all people, not just to writing about them, but to being with them and working with them from day to day…to bosses and co-workers and patients and customers and students. They might not be your child, but they’re somebody’s child. They were infants, once, just like the rest of us. In this way we can turn our disdain and frustration into empathy and tenderness. It might not be a marketable skill, it might not be something you list on your resume, but it seems very important to me right now.

Lemon cream tart

Lemon cream tart

Lemon cream tart! With a pecan shortbread crust! It all started when I saw an article in The Guardian about Perfect Lemon Posset. I love the idea of a posset, it seems so warm and comforting and Joan Aikeny. Not this version, though, this version was cool and elegant. And it looked delicious. It’s just cream, really, which somehow magically sets into a silky sort of custard. No eggs, though. It’s magic! All of the recipes suggested that it would be good with a shortbread cookie, so I thought, why not put it in a shortbread crust? That way you’re not just eating thickened cream. (You’re eating thickened cream with more butter and sugar alongside!) And I decided to flavor it with bay leaves and lemon, because this is an intriguing combination I’d seen in an old cookbook that I’ve wanted to try for a while. And I decided to add some rum, because a posset should have alcohol in it, dammit, even if it’s cooked off. I made a smallish tart, but if you wanted a full-sized one, use the full pint of cream.

Here’s Smooth Sailing, by Pete Rock, because this dessert is so smooooooth.


1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup (heaping cup) toasted chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
6 T cold butter
ice water

Preheat the oven to 400. Lightly butter a small tart pan. In a food processor, combine the flour, pecans, sugar, and spices. Process until fairly smooth but still with some texture…you don’t want the pecans completely pulverized. Add the butter and process until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Add just enough water to pull it together into a soft dough (Start with 1/4 cup). Mine was quite soft, so I was able to spread it into the tart pan with a spoon, and build up the crust on the edges with the back of my spoon.

Bake for about 20 minutes, till it’s golden on the edges and firm to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, make the lemon cream…


1/2 pint heavy cream (1 cup)
2 bay leaves
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
1/3 cup white sugar
2 T rum
2 T lemon juice
zest of one lemon

Combine the cream with bay leaves, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and let bubble away for a few minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the rum, sugar, zest and lemon juice. Over medium heat, cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly. It will be a little syrupy, but you don’t want to turn it into caramel, so don’t cook it too long.

Whisk the sugar mixture into the cream, and continue to boil for a few minutes, whisking all the while. Strain the mixture into a jug, and let it cool for a few minutes.

Pour the cream into the pecan shell, put the whole thing into the refrigerator, and let it chill till set…a few hours should do it.


9 thoughts on “Lemon cream tart

  1. Gosh, that looks wonderful…I may need to go and buy some ingredients! As for job applications, we’re always told that there shouldn’t be any gaps (perhaps people will think we were in prison?) so I always used to include my three years of unemployment on the CV, and I would put that during that time I wrote a novel. Which I did, but I also did lots of other things such as find loads of interesting, nutritionally sound and CHEAP ways of cooking – many of these involving lentils – and I taught my children (and some of it stuck) that there’s more to life than new bikes and computers. Oh, and I got really fit because I walked everywhere, but I don’t think your average HR department would’ve been interested in that somehow. Whether that helped me get a job, I don’t know. But I got one, anyway! So perhaps it did.

  2. Yes. Every creature was and is a child. I see it as you do. Once, i had a job to photograph people and with pets in their homes in a most beautiful town. Though this group seemed secure by materal standards, I saw through my lense vulnerable children.

    If you put “mom” on your resume it shows you may have great organizational skills. You might also add “empath” to your resume. And “waitress” translates to someone who can work under pressure. Filmaker and editor are nice to add, but it is the empath that I would love to work with most of all!

    Brilliant recipe. Sounds a bit like a variation on Panna Cotta. I have been making chocolate cakes inspired by your recent recipes. Can’t wait to try this one. Bay Leaf! fab!

  3. This sounds gorgeous! Can I ask how much ‘6T butter’ is please? I’m from the UK, and have no idea of how much butter to use. I hope to make it at the weekend!

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