I juiced a lot of limes for margaritas for Cinco de Mayo; I zested the fruit before juicing them because it would be a waste of good peel to do otherwise. We hardly used the lime juice, though, so I had nearly 12 ounces of lime juice left. I brainstormed other uses for all that juice, and Ina Garten's Lime Curd Tart is one of the things I came up with.
Some desserts are healthier, or at least less unhealthy, than others, and let me just tell you now - this is not one of them. For this tart, you make a lime curd (sugar, butter, eggs, lime juice and zest), and pour it into a shortbread tart crust made with 3 sticks of butter. Luckily, it's no sacrificed to cut it into very small pieces - the tart is very rich!
The tart was not difficult to make, although it was not a quick process. Making the shortbread crust was straightforward. In my stand mixer, I creamed ½ cup sugar with 2 sticks of butter and 1 stick of margarine (in a half-hearted attempt to reduce the calories of the tart). My butter was not particularly softened, so it didn't cream particularly well, and I should have been more patient to ensure everything was mixed properly. I added 1 ¾ cups flour and a little vanilla to the mixture. Once the dough formed, I patted it into the bottom and up the sides of a 11-inch tart pan, and chilled it (for about 30 minutes or an hour) to firm up the dough. I pressed foil onto the dough and baked it in a 350F oven for 15 minutes. I removed the foil, pricked the dough, and baked it for another 20 minutes until it was lightly browned. Unfortunately, the sides of the crust sank into the bottom as it baked, leaving only the barest outline of a crust wall, likely for one of three reasons: I used margarine in the crust, I didn't chill the dough long enough, or I didn't cream the butter completely.
I let the tart shell chill for a little while, and then I made the lime curd. Honestly, curd was a little intimidating when I first made it a few years ago, but it's not so bad once you have experience making a custard. I used a hand mixer to cream 1 ½ cups sugar with several pinches of lime zest (what I guessed what 4 limes' worth) and 1 stick of butter. Once it was well mixed, I added 4 eggs, one at a time, and then added ½ cup of lime juice and a pinch of salt. I put the mixture over medium heat and cooked it, stirring constantly, until it thickened. This took no more than 10 minutes. (I took its temperature too, and it had reached 175F as recommended.)
I poured as much lime curd as would fit into the tart shell, without having any go over the crust edges. I still had a little lime curd left, which I put in the fridge to use for something else later.
This tart was definitely delicious. It was very rich, and pretty intense. Overall, the tart turned out well. I love Ina Garten’s shortbread recipe, and so of course I liked it here. I was disappointed that the edge crust sank into the tart, but I know that's my fault. The texture was still great despite this; it was sandy on the bottom, and nicely brown and delicious along the outside. The lime curd was also great; it was gooey and rich, tart and very sweet. The lime curd and very sweet shortbread went together, but two sweet things sometimes means a little too much of a good thing. Honestly, sometimes I wished I was eating Key Lime Pie instead.
Would I make this again? Maybe. It’s hard to compete with key lime pie for convenience, but this was a rich and tasty alternative.