Hiiiiii. You guys, it is HOT out. Like, almost unbearably hot.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE summer and the heat and all the awesome stuff associated with them (swimming, margaritas, beach days, margaritas, BBQs and al fresco dinning, margaritas, an abundance of peaches/cherries/plums, margaritas, being tan, margaritas, corn on the cob, margaritas…you get the idea). But this humidity is freakin’ killing me. Ugh. I step outside and immediately feel like I’m in a sauna. Not fun.
Ever since giving birth, I feel like I run warmer than I used to. Before, I was ALWAYS cold. I was that person who always had a spare cardigan in her bag or car. Now? I am always too warm. Like, jack-up-the-AC-and-kick-all-the-blankets-off-and-put-the-ceiling-fan-on-full-blast-just-so-I-can-fall-asleep too warm. Is this a permanent change? Will I ever normalize again? Wait. Don’t answer that. All I know is that I seem even more sensitive to the heat/humidity these days than ever before…and I was PREGNANT all last summer. So weird. And inconvenient. Hrrumph.
One thing, though, that I DO love about the July-August weather is frozen desserts. Yes. The heat (and my new intolerance of it) is basically an excuse for me to make lots of cold treats and eat them like they’re going out of style (is that even a phrase anymore? Is it out of style to even use that expression?). I make a lot of ice cream in the summer. And popsicles. I’ve even been known to make an ice cream cake or two. All good stuff. This tart is no exception.
Lemon. You all know by now that I am a tad obsessed with lemon. I inherited the lemon-loving gene from my father, for sure. We both could down a pan of lemon bars no problem. Give me a pitcher of lemonade and I’m a happy girl. What flavor of Italian ice do I always order? Lemon.
This tart highlights lemon (obviously) in the best way possible. The custard is basically like frozen lemonade…but creamy! It’s indulgent and sweet and luscious all while staying light and bright and lemony. I adore it. It’s also spiked with a leeeeeettle bit of limoncello, which makes it extra fun and yummy (but can also be left completely out for a booze-free version). Icy limoncello is so wonderful on a warm summer evening. I keep my bottle in the freezer at all times, just in case I need a little sippy sip after dinner one night. I feel sophisticated when I drink it….ahem…out of a shot glass engraved with a Corona logo…and probably after finishing something super classy like buffalo chicken pizza. HAH. Hey, at least I tried.
Another awesome thing about the custard? You could just eat it like ice cream. NO CHURNING REQUIRED. Yesss. Love that. Want to make it EVEN simpler? Use store-bought lemon curd instead of the homemade version I share below. Just whip some cream and fold it into the lemon curd and freeze it up! Simple lemon ice cream with hardly any effort at all. Gotta love that.
If you do want to go all out like me and serve this as a tart, then you have to make the graham cracker crust. It’s a must. I like a thick crust, so that’s what I did here. You can adjust that to your tastes, as well. Use a larger pan to spread it out a little thinner or even cut the crust recipe below in half.
Worried about presentation? Don’t be. Just top this creamy-dreamy thang with some fresh berries and sprigs of mint. Heck, you could even douse the whole thing in powdered sugar. No one will be the wiser.
You really can’t mess this up. IT’S EASY. Fuss-free cooking.
Isn’t that what we all want in the summer?
Me? I just want this tart. Forever ever.
For the Crust:
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
- Pinch of fine salt
For the Filling:
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons (you want roughly 2 tablespoons of zest and ½ cup of fresh juice)
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup limoncello (optional)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 2 cups mixed fresh berries
- Fresh mint
For the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. With the machine running, slowly stream in the melted butter. The mixture should look like wet sand.
- Press the mixture evenly into a greased 9-inch pie dish or springform pan and then bake for 8-10 minutes until golden around the edges. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling:
- Put the lemon juice and zest in a pot over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Reduce the heat to low, making sure the mixture is below a simmer, and whisk in the butter and eggs. Stir almost constantly, keeping the mixture below a simmer, until it thickens, about 8 minutes.
- Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lemon curd, and then cool completely.
- Place the heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (alternatively, you could use a hand blender or whisk by hand). Beat until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes, and then add in the powdered sugar. Beat again to combine.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the lemon curd and stir to lighten the mixture slightly. Whisk in the limoncello until incorporated. Gently fold in half of the whipped cream.
- Once you have the first half incorporated, gently fold in the second half of the cream. You want the mixture to be pale yellow and airy. Try not to overwork the mixture too much or you’ll lose the fluffy airiness.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pie crust, smooth out the top, and then place in the freezer. Freeze until firm, about 8 hours. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve. If using a springform pan, run a towel dampened with warm water around the outside of the pan before unmolding.
- When ready to serve, garnish the frozen pie with the berries and a few sprigs of fresh mint. Enjoy immediately!