A little pot…

...of lemon cream.


I have an enormous soft spot and pathological weakness for sweet, creamy, lemon spiked desserts and puddings, a quivering slice of tart au citron, a bowlful of that most English of desserts lemon Syllabub, a piece of lemon cheesecake, a spoonful or seven of lemon mousse, a little pot of lemon cream. It’s the soft, sweet, creamy nature of these puddings, the ointment of cream, eggs, maybe butter and sugar sharpened and lifted by a lip puckering tartness of the lemon which makes them so magical to me.

My love of all things sweet and lemony started with lemon curd (or lemon cheese as it was called in the north of English) the smooth, translucent, sweet – sharp spread. Or maybe it was the lemon sherbet sweets, the ones that fizzed and popped in your mouth, the ones you bought by the quarter at the local sweet shop that came in a white paper bag twisted at the corners…….

No, the lemon curd came first.

My mum would make it or little jars of it – usually with a jam pot hat, that circle of fabric secured by an elastic band covering the lid – would be brought back from English holidays or purchased from fragrant ladies wearing vast flowery skirts and pearl earings at garden fetes. The lemon curd was then spread extremely thickly on white bread or used to fill tarts which were sometimes topped with meringue, but it was best, as my younger sister Rosie and I quickly discovered,  eaten straight from the jar with a spoon, thick and luscious.

French holidays and the discovery of fine tart au citron gave my affection for such sweet, creamy, lemon spiked things a rather more refined and sophisticated edge, or at least I thought it did, I was at that age. Of course I liked the pastry, delicate and buttery but it was the bright yellow filling of lemons, sugar, butter and egg, the intense satiny lemoniness of it all, the way it trembled and wobbled ever so slightly as you cut a slice that I really loved

Unfortunately I haven’t mastered the art of a decent tart au citron yet, it’s the pastry you see, despite modest progress I still practice heavy avoidance techniques where pastry is concerned. The mere sight of the words… pate…brisee…sucrèe…rich or shortcrust will see me hastily turning the page if at all possible.

I do intend to master the art of a half decent tart au citron/ lemon tart at some point but until I do I am more than content with being able to make the filling…because thats what these little pots of lemon cream are you see…… the filling of a lemon tart…..well a kind of filling, purists may quibble at the recipe – although I very much doubt purists have read this far.


….the juice and zest of 3 fine lemons, some sugar, a tub of marsapone or some double cream, 6 eggs with very yellow yolks…whisked together gently…allowed a long leisurely rest in the fridge, decanted into little pots and then baked in a gentle oven for 25 minutes.

It’s there, the soft, sweet and  creamy sharpened and lifted by the lip puckering tartness of the lemon. If ambrosial is something which is exceptionally pleasing to taste or smell then thats what these little pots are.

I can’t decide when I like to eat my little pot (s) of lemon cream more..is it about 15 minutes after they have come out of the oven when they are still warm and the center is still runny ? or after about an hour when they are cool and set but still very soft and tender ? or the next day after a night in the fridge when the are deeply set and thick and fudgy  ?….. The joy of making 8 little pots and only having 4 guests is that you don’t have to decide, after all you have 2 pots extra pots just for you.

Nigella recommends leaving the cream, sugar, lemon, eggs mixture resting and steeping in the fridge for 1 or 2 even 3 days before you decant it into little pots and then bake it. I do too…… well 1 day at least and if you have the patience 2, as it really does improve the silky texture and intensify the deep lemon flavour. I have never left if for 3 days, if you try let me know.


Lemon Cream

from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson

yield 8 little pots

  • 3 juicy, unwaxed lemons
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 6 fresh eggs
  • 250g marscapone or 300ml double cream

Grate the lemon zest from all 3 lemons into a bowl and then squeeze and add their juice to the bowl.

Add the sugar and eggs to the bowl and whisk until everything is nicely incorporated.

Stir in the cream or marsapone and then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave it in the fridge until you need it but ideally for 2 days.

When you are ready to bake, set the oven to 150°, boil the kettle and put eight little ramekins or pots into a roasting tin and then share the lemon mixture between all eight.

Por hot, but not boiling water into the roasting dish to come half way up the little pots and then bake for 25 minutes or until they are just set but still with a bit of wobble and runniness about them as they will set more as they cool.

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving and they will sit happily for a few hours. If you are making them a day in advance, keep them in the fridge but take them out a good half hour before you serve them so they are cool not cold.


Filed under cakes and baking, Eggs, food, Puddings, tarts

24 responses to “A little pot…

  1. What a lovely idea! I too have had one too many disastrous experiences with pastry.

    I’m thinking these would be delicious with some little shortbreads to make up for the lack of pastry 🙂

  2. I grew up eating lemon meringue pie with its tall peaks of egg white. I especially loved it the second day after a long night in the fridge. Chilled and tart…the egg white always seemed to suffer though. While completely edible its tendency was to slide off of the pie. No matter, I would just attend to it first, leaving the pie to be savored one sharp tart puckering bite at a time.

    • rachel

      I remember that post fridge eggwhite – kind of rubbery, like sweet foam…ohhh lets all make lemon meringue pies….. if only, that pesky pastry…
      Actually after today I am on a mission to overcome my pastry fear, all advice gratefully received.

  3. YUM. this is much better than eating lemon curd straight from the jar. i love lemon desserts too, even as a kid. the awful school lunches at least had lemon bars once a month, sticky, tart, and coated in powdered sugar. I have no idea what syllabub (?) is, but i’m sure I’d like it. 🙂

  4. Not entirely sure I could wait three days.

    But I might be able to stretch it out to two.

    Very Sexy writing, here. Goodness. I am glad to be home.

  5. That looks so easy and so yummy!

  6. YUM.

    Rachel, send me your email and I’ll send you my recipe for a basic rich tart dough, c/o Zuni Cafe ingredients and advice about technique via Smitten Kitchen/Jamie Oliver/Kitchenaid ‘Fundamentals of Pastry’. a) It has a huge butter:flour ratio so turns out super-flaky (even at 6000 feet!) but b) the best thing is that it is made in a mixer, in less than 5 mins.

    I’d post it here but it’d take up too much space!

    • rachel

      Thankyou thankyou Raquelita, I would love it. I sent you an e mail with my address.
      Snow, 6000 ft goodness where are you ?

  7. Lizzie

    I want a little pot! Love the pulp fiction reference and the recipe. So bright but still creamy – a nice fall pick me up

  8. there is something really sexy about that pot of deliciousness. maybe it’s the color? maybe it’s the texture? very, very, pretty.

  9. Seneca

    Dear Rachel,

    My husband and I recently discovered your wonderful blog, and you have yet to lead us astray (we loved the roasted carrot soup, and pasta e ceci). Yesterday we made your delicious winter minestrone soup, and plan to make it again within the week. Tonight we made this:
    which we make often, and I thought of you and this lemon cream post. I thought you’d like a recipe that gives you a way to turn lemon cream into dinner.

    We look forward to more recipes, and more of your writing about them.

    • rachel

      What a lovely comment – thankyou.
      great recipe for the lemon – gnocchi, I will be trying it. I am still very much a beginner when it come to making gnocchi but quite advanced at the eating of it.

  10. oh I am craving these now!!! lovely presentation and cute bubbles.

  11. I’m with you on the fear of pastry – must conquer that one day… In the meantime these look amazing and I can’t imagine anyone lamenting the lack of a tart if they were served one of these x

  12. 4 ingredients…

    that’s really all it takes

  13. Pingback: Afternoon tea « What Rachel Ate

  14. Pingback: At last, lemon tart. « rachel eats

  15. Inke

    This recipe is a GREAT SUCCESS!!! Super easy and delicious!

  16. Madalyn

    Could someone help with a measurement conversion for the caster sugar? I don’t have a scale and am wondering how many cups to use for 275 grams. I can find conversions for regular sugar but not for caster sugar. Help! This recipe came highly recommended.

    • rachel

      Morning Madalyn,

      275, is more or less a cup of sugar (250 g is a cup to be precise) (so sorry I didn’t note this, I am always cautious with cups as I don’t use them). Best Rach

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