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Thomas Keller’s Lemon sabayon tart

I’ve previously made the lemon sabayon tart many times before. Whether it be friends or families, people seem to be quite impressed by the tart, often asking for the recipe. To understand the reason for its success, look no further than the man behind it, Thomas Keller.

Prior to ever baking this tart, the thought of baking a French Laundry’s dessert used to scare me, this is a 3 michelin starred restaurant we’re talking about. So imagine my surprise when I finally got the opportunity to bake the tart, not only were they super dooper easy to bake, but the fluffy lemon sabayon filling combined with the buttery pine nut crust made this dessert worth while.

Lemon Sabayon Tart

Adapted from French Laundry, available from Epicurious

Pine Nut Crust (Recipe is adequate for making 3 tarts)

  • 283gm (2 cups) pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 453gm (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 230gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the sugar and flour and continue to pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Add the butter, egg, and vanilla extract and mix to incorporate all the ingredients (the dough can be mixed by hand or in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment).
  3. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before using.
  4. The extra dough can be frozen, wrapped well, for up to 1 month.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Generously butter and flour a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and refrigerate it while the oven preheats.
  6. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Use your fingertips to press the chilled pine nut dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough.
  7. Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate it and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and let it cool while you make the filling. (There may be some cracks in the crust; they will not affect the finished tart.)

Lemon Sabayon

  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 2 large egg yolks, cold
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons (85gm) cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

  1. Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.
  4. Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold.


After tasting the lemon sabayon tart, I now understand why Thomas Keller is reviered as the chef that he is. How could someone turn soemthing as simple as a lemon tart into something so light and fancy. I found that the addition of the pine nut, rounded the tart as a whole off well. With it’s slightly more noticable flavour as compared to almond, the crumbly crust helped balanced the tanginess of the lemon.

I don’t often enjoy any form of citrus in my dessert, however I can honestly say, this tart is the only exception. I served the lemon tart with a dollop of honey mascarpone cream and a crunch of praline.

28 Comments

  1. Gorgeous! Is this the tart you made for Ellie’s lunch? It was perfection! I will definitely have to try making this, the pine nut crust was so lovely and crumbly.

  2. I love citrus tarts. They always catch my eye at a patissiere. I will need to try this one to see if it meets the required standard. I am sure it will. The pine nut crust is a little strange but definitely worth a go.

  3. I was so lucky to have tasted this little piece of heaven. Believe me, it was the BEST lemon tart I have ever tasted. Thanks for sharing Linda- now everyone can try it!

  4. I have tried this tart at our all girls lunch. It was really good. I totally agree with you that Thomas Keller is a genius to make such a simple tart so special!

  5. Brian

    I’ve done the same type of tart with the lemon sabayon. Instead of Pine nuts I used Pecans and ground Cardamon seed, then after I painted a thin layer of Semi sweet Coveture chocolate, let it set then added my lemon sabayon. The chocolate helps protect a nice mealy crust from breaking when cut for service!!
    Great tarts are pure beauty!

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