To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


Desserts: Lemon Tart With Pine Nut Crust

Thomas Keller

Lesson time 21:25 min

Lemon tart is a very special dish to Chef Keller. He demonstrates the exact recipe for his lemon tart that he’s been making since the early 1980s, including how to make a pine nut crust and how to broil the dessert to perfection.

Thomas Keller
Teaches Cooking Techniques III: Seafood, Sous Vide, and Desserts
Chef Thomas Keller’s third MasterClass is devoted to preparing seafood, sous vide cooking, and making classic desserts.


[MUSIC PLAYING] - It's hard to say what is my favorite dessert. This lemon tart is very special to me. It's the only recipe that I've included in two of my cookbooks, "The French Laundry" and "Bouchon" because I love it so much. It's a recipe that I've been doing since the early '80s, when I've had one of my first restaurants in New York City, called Rakel, and I've been doing this recipe ever since. There's several reasons I love it, not just because of the texture, the lemon, but also this crust. And this crust is unique in a couple ways. Number 1, it's unique because it doesn't have to be rolled. It's actually going to be pressed into the tart pan, much like a cookie dough. The second thing, of course, are pine nuts, and the pine nuts add that sweetness textural thing to it that is so compelling in this lemon tart. We're starting with raw pine nuts because when we bake the tart, the nuts will become a little bit roasted and give it another flavor and texture. So we begin by putting our nuts in a food processor. And pulse it. And we want to pulse said just about halfway. We don't want to continue pulsing it or it will remove that oil from the nut. Drawing the oil out is not what we want to do. We want to start to break them up, and then we want to add our flour and our sugar. And then we're going to continue to grind it. Now, any oil that's coming out of the nuts is going to be drilled by the flour. Let's look at that. Yeah. So I can just feel the texture of the nut barely in there. That's what we want to be. We have a bench scraper here to help us move our dough around. We're going to go ahead and dump that out on our clean working surface. If you want to, you can use a piece of parchment paper to work on. I'm just going to work right on the marble here. And then I'll make my well, just like I'm making any dough. Add 1 whole egg. Now, this recipe makes enough for three tarts, and primarily because we're using one egg. So it would be hard to do it only for one tart because we'd have to break that egg into a third. So the great thing about it is that you can freeze your dough and have it for later use. You could freeze your dough and, of course, make your lemon tart every week for the next three weeks. So the butter, as you can see, is pretty soft. I'll just start mixing, bringing my flour into it as I'm squeezing. My bench scraper. This will take a few minutes. Just be patient with it. It may seem like it's dry. As you work it more, that butter will go into it. I always like to make these by hand. You can try to do it completely in your food processor. There's something about using my hands that I enjoy very much, especially in making different doughs. Just gently working that butter into the pine nut, in the flour. I have more surface on the heel of my hand, which gives me more ability to mix it together, and I can put more pressure on the heel of my hand as well. You can also just get your children involved...

About the Instructor

In his third MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller focuses on preparing fresh seafood like lobster and salmon, making classic desserts such as apple pie and lemon tart, and showing how sous vide cooking can be done at home to enhance flavor and texture. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced cook, you’ll learn the techniques and principles that will give you the understanding and skills to get the most delicious results.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Amazeball Mr Keller! Simply stunning. Purely divine gift and an incredible love, mastery of his craft. Thank you!

Chef Keller's class has exposed me to a new way of cooking. I'll try it out soon.

What a phenomenal teacher! Hopefully he comes back to do more!

Loved all the recipes and I've dabble with the Sous Vide method. Very impressed with the quality of this class!


Tom B.

Loved it! Chef Keller again gives this student confidence to expand my skills. One question: After making the dough and dividing it into thirds, why did Chef Keller use dough from a different batch to make the lesson tart? The dough that he made in the lesson is clearly seen in some of the shots! (Ok, I don't really care why. I just want you to realize how closely we students are watching his lessons!) Great job, Chef! Thank-you.

Douniazed W.

Mise en Place Yield: Three 9-inch crusts Ingredients 280 grams raw pine nuts 360 grams all-purpose flour 70 grams granulated sugar 1 large egg 225 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature Equipment Food processor Bench scraper Plastic wrap Fluted 9-inch nonstick tart pan with removable bottom Glass with flat bottom and straight sides Sheet pan method Preheat oven to 350oF and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Place the pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until halfway ground, being careful not to grind the nuts too much, which will extract the oil from the nuts and affect the consistency of the dough. Add the flour and sugar to the food processor and pulse until you can just barely distinguish the nuts from the rest of the ingredients. Turn the mixture onto a clean work surface and gather it into a mound. Form a well in the center and add the egg and butter into the center of the well. Use your hands to mix the egg and butter, incrementally incorporating the flour mixture. Use the bench scraper as needed to bring the ingredients together. The dough may seem dry, but as you work it, the butter will be absorbed into the flour. When the dough starts to come together, knead it with the heel of your hand to further blend the ingredients and to form one homogenous mass of dough. Shape the dough into a loaf and then divide it equally into thirds. Form each third into a disc, approximately 1 inch thick, then wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough you’ll be using immediately for at least 10 minutes to let it rest. Place the extra wrapped discs of dough into a resealable freezer bag and freeze for future use. Transfer the rested dough to a nonstick fluted tart pan—there’s no need to butter or flour the pan. Begin removing small pieces of dough from the disc and pressing them up against the sides of the pan. Be mindful to maintain a uniform thickness, approximately 3/16 inch, around the edge of the pan. After the sides of the pan have been lined with an even layer of dough, press pieces of dough onto the bottom of the pan until it’s completely and evenly covered. Make sure the dough forms a tight seal in the corners where the sides and bottom of the tart meet. masterclass 87 Chef Thomas Keller Chapter Fourteen desserts: lemon tart with pine nut crust pine nut crust lemon sabayon Mise en Place Ingredients 2 large eggs, cold 2 large egg yolks, cold 150 grams granulated sugar 120 grams fresh lemon juice 85 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes, cold Equipment Saucepot with a diameter that is slightly smaller than that of the mixing bowl Large metal mixing bowl Balloon whisk or electric mixer Kitchen towels Rubber spatula Tart shell Sheet pan Slicing knife Plate or cutting board Use your fingers to remove any excess dough that protrudes above the edge of the tart pan and smooth off the edges for a finished look. Gently press the side and bottom of a glass against the dough at the sides and bottom of the pan—this will even out the thick- ness of the dough at the corners. Place the tart pan onto a sheet pan and into the oven. Bake the tart shell for 17 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the crust cool before filling it. method Position the oven rack in the topmost slot, right under the broiler, and preheat the broiler. Keep the oven door open slightly so that the temperature in the oven does not get too hot. Bring about 11⁄2 inches of water to a boil in a saucepot. Make sure the water is shallow enough so that it will not touch the bottom of the mixing bowl when the bowl is set on top of the saucepot. Add the eggs and sugar to the mixing bowl and place the bowl over the saucepot. Immediately reduce the heat to low. Whisk the mixture continuously while stabilizing the bowl. (You can also use an elec- tric mixer if you don’t want to whisk the sabayon by hand.) Hold the bowl with a kitchen towel to protect yourself from the heat. After about 21⁄2 minutes, the mixture should thicken and be in the ribbon stage. You can tell when you’ve reached the ribbon stage when the lines from whisking persist for a brief moment on the surface of the mixture. Also, when you lift the whisk above the bowl, the mixture should fall back into the bowl, forming “ribbons.” Once the mixture has reached this stage, add 1/3 of the lemon juice. Whisk the lemon juice into the mixture in a figure-eight motion until the mixture’s consistency returns to the ribbon stage, about masterclass 88 Chef Thomas Keller Chapter Fourteen desserts: lemon tart with pine nut crust 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens to the ribbon stage again, another minute, then add the last of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture returns to the ribbon stage. The total cooking time is approximately 6 minutes. It is very important to whisk continuously this entire time to prevent the eggs from getting too hot and scrambling. Set the bowl on a kitchen towel on the counter and add the butter. Return the bowl back on top of the saucepot and whisk to emul- sify the butter into the sabayon. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart shell set on a sheet pan. Gently tap the sheet pan against a towel-lined counter to remove any air bubbles in the sabayon. Place the tart under the broiler, keeping the oven door open slightly to allow the top of the tart to brown without building too much oven heat that will overcook the custard. Brûlée the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart as needed for even color; do not leave the oven unattended, as the sabayon will caramelize quickly. Remove the tart from the broiler, and let it sit for 1 hour at room temperature before serving. If you’re serving it more than 1 hour after broiling, let the tart cool to room temperature first before placing it in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or cold. When slicing the tart, dip your knife blade in hot water, dry it on a towel, and then slice the tart with the hot but dry blade. Repeat this process for each cut. masterclass 89 Chef Thomas Keller Chapter Fourteen desserts: lemon tart with pine nut crust learn more: sabayon A sabayon is the French adaptation of a dessert with Italian origins. In Italy, it is called zabaione, and it is traditionally made with egg yolks, sugar, and marsala wine, whisked and cooked in a bain-marie or over a double boiler, then poured over fruit. Zabaione was incorporated into French cuisine in the 1800s. Though it is used primarily as a dessert cream, sabayon can also refer to certain savory sauces. masterclass 90 desserts: apple pie


Again we were WOWed by this recipe. I did not have a 9" pan so had to use an 11" so used half the pine crust dough for one tart and froze the other portion. I too had to whisk for at least 21 minutes total but I do not have a gas stove top, induction only so that may be part of my problem. I thought since I had to use a larger tart pan, I may be short on the filling but it was just right. I gave slices to everyone in my circle and all raved about the flavor and texture, creamy and delectable. Another go to for a fabulous desert. Thanks!

Gloria S.

I LOVED this lesson!! Chef Keller made this lesson very enjoyable and I was so happy when my Tart came out just like his!! I will make this my go to dessert !

Nina E.

This pine nut crust is pleasing to the taste. It is my go to crust for both pies and tarts. Don't know how I've lived without it!


This is now the third time I tried this recipe. I can get the creamy consistency of the sabayon, but in never sets... It remains in liquid state, even after resting it for 6 hours. I spoke to a pastry chef who says that one can "cheat" with corn starch. Thing is, I don't want to cheat. Did anyone else run into this problem? What did you do for it to set?

Martin M.

Great lesson. I feel like I learned some good techniques that can be applied to other dishes too.

Frank G.

I wonder, just to keep cost down, if one could replace pine nut with almond or maybe peanut - any opinions?


Loved the class Can anyone give me guidance whether it would be ok to make the tart in its entirety the day before I intend to serve it. Thanks

Mike B.

Incredible dessert. I've made it 4 times now and it's been a hit every single time.