Dessert was a little more difficult. I’d asked LeeMichael what he wanted me to bring, and his only request was that it involve lemon. (Actually, I think he said something like “LEMON!!!!” That’s his normal decibel level for things he likes, anyway.) Normally, I wouldn’t bat an eye, immediately turning to my favorite lemon-olive oil tart—a recipe I’ve made so many times I can almost assemble it in my sleep. But the wrinkle here is that LeeMichael’s allergic to dairy. Specifically, he and butter are mortal enemies.
I realize what I’m about to say is the equivalent of thumbing my nose at fate, but cooking without butter is a hardship I don’t usually bear. It’s the tried-and-true thickener for my lemon curd, the flaky binder for my pie and tart crusts, and the last thing I throw into my risotto along with Parmesan cheese. I get a little freaked out if I have fewer than three pounds of butter in my house at any given moment.
But I’d do anything for LeeMichael, so some minor changes had to be made. The olive oil stayed, of course, keeping the tart’s undercurrent of savory richness, but the butter was shockingly easy to remove from the recipe. Switching it out for coconut oil in the crust (and adding a little extra toasted coconut to boot) made the tart’s final flavor and texture somewhere between rustic, old-fashioned lemon bars and elegant curd-topped shortbread.
It went over big-time. (I suspect someone might have been sneaking back to the house from the beach on Saturday to eat more of it, since there was suspiciously less of the tart when I went back for breakfast seconds on Sunday morning.)
I amped up the lemon flavor for our tart, but you can reduce the amount of juice in the recipe below to 1/2 cup if you’re not as obsessed with puckery desserts as we are. Even so, the sweetness of the crust balances out the smooth, citrusy filling for a little big of sugar and a little bit of sour in each bite.
Dairy-Free Lemon and Olive Oil Tart
Prep time:30 minutes
Cook time:30 minutes
Total time:1 hour plus overnight chilling time
Makes 1 9-inch tart
- 1 1/4 cups (6 3/8 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (1 oz.) powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (105 grams; about 3 3/4 oz.) solid coconut oil
- 1 large egg yolk
- zest of 1 lemon (use the zest from one of the lemons you’ll use for the curd)
- 1/4 cup shredded toasted coconut (optional)
- 1/4 cup good, fruity olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor a few times until blended. Add the coconut oil, egg yolk, lemon zest, and toasted coconut (if using). Pulse until a soft, shaggy dough forms, then drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube while the processor runs until the dough coalesces.
Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan as you would for a batch of no-roll tart dough.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tart crust is golden brown and dry. Cool to room temperature.
Lemon Tart Filling
- 4 lemons, zested and juiced (about 2/3 cup juice)
- 1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons good, fruity olive oil
Bring a small saucepan filled halfway with water to a simmer. Whisk the lemon zest and juice, sugar, and egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl rests over the water and doesn’t touch its surface.
Whisk continuously for 6-7 minutes while the liquid heats and turns from sloshy and translucent to opaque. When you start to see steam rising from the liquid, scoop about 1/4 cup out of the bowl and whisk together with the cornstarch.
Return the cornstarch-infused liquid to the bowl and continue to whisk for 3-4 minutes more until the liquid thickens into a curd consistency. Be careful not to let it come to a full simmer, or you’ll start to scramble the eggs. (You can also check out my lemon curd video to see the consistency you’re looking for.)
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Whisk in the olive oil, then pour the filling into the cooled tart crust.
Refrigerate overnight to let the lemon curd firm up completely before serving.