caustic confit

When I first saw a recipe for a Lemon Confit Shortbread Tart in Wednesday’s New York Times, I was still too deep in my cooking-failure funk to consider trying my hand with it, although I did say out loud and to nobody in particular, “Well, doesn’t that look nice?” But when making weekend plans with my parents and my mother told me that she’d seen some lemon tart in the paper and really wanted to make it, I knew it was destiny, and secretly rejoiced that it would be someone else coughing up for nine lemons.

lemon confit

And what’s not to love? Shortbread, double-crusts, Mom’s ancient fluted tart pan and lemons, from pulp to pith and peel all sound sounded so irresistible. I have been absorbed with this “whole lemon” cooking concept since I made a sorbet last summer that involved exactly that, ground with sugar, and frozen with pureed fresh strawberries. It’s the best recipe to have graced my ice-cream maker to date.

Unfortunately, it turned out there was very, very much not to love. I first joked that I’d brought my bad cooking karma out to the ‘burbs with me, ruining everything, I’m actually confident enough to lay the blame where it belongs: this recipe is flawed. Sure, it warns you that the confit will be “intensely flavored” but then it also invokes the word “lemonade,” which makes it sound like this intensity will be manageable and lovable, like a day at the beach over summer vacation. And yet it’s so sour — the three-quarter cup of sugar such an ineffective balance for eight lemons and the vast majority of their peels — the result is borderline inedible and definitively cruel: face-scrunching, eyes-tearing, why-would-you-make-me-eat-this cruel. No doubt, this may have worked out slightly better with meyer lemons, but I can’t help but feel this tart has more to overcome than grocery store fruit.

candying the confit

The crust isn’t much better. Though it warns you that the shortbread-like tart dough will be crumbly when you roll it out, it says it’s okay because you can just press it back together. Well, that’s all good and well for the base, where you have the pan’s framework to give you structure but how exactly do you manage a crumbly dough as a tart lid over a soft, sticky and wet filling? With all the more reliable tart bases out there, why use this?

deceivingly pretty

The final nail in the lemon tart’s coffin is the quarter-cup of sugar you are supposed to sprinkle over the top for the final ten minutes of baking. I wonder, do they have any idea how much sugar this is to spread over a 9-inch circle? We’re talking a quarter-inch deep here. Feeling like a kid playing in a sandbox, I brushed over half the sugar off before we sliced into it. You’d think all this raw, loose sugar would balance the acrid filling, but it’s on the wrong side of the crust to be of any value.

If were a better humble servant of this site, I’d make this again, immediately, the way I think it would work. I’m thinking a pate sucree with lemon zest and a thick, tart lemon curd with finely-diced candied lemon peel peppered throughout. The double crust can stay, and even the sugar on top, though far less, probably something more coarse and, oh, I’d give it enough time to adhere to the lid. But I’m exhausted, and somewhat crushed. The only person at our table of five who cleaned their plate was my awesome, knows-on-which-side-his-bread-is-buttered husband. Then again, he eats pickled watermelon so his sense of palatable versus pungent is already clearly whack. Nevertheless, he can stay. This tart, however, was headed straight for the garbage bin when we hopped a train back to the city.

Ah, well. Like my mom said, “At least we tried something new.”

even one bite

Lemon Confit Shortbread Tart
New York Times 1/31/07

Time: At least 2 hours

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice

8 lemons, preferably thin-skinned and seedless
3/4 cup sugar

1. For crust, combine flour, salt, butter and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Mix with your fingers until it forms flaky crumbs and lumps. Mix in egg, almond extract and lemon juice. Continue to mix until it clumps; at first it may seem very dry. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day ahead of baking.

2. For confit, slice off and discard ends of lemons. Slice 5 crosswise, peel and all, as thinly as possible. Remove any seeds and place in a bowl. Peel skin, including white pith, from remaining 3 lemons, then slice thinly crosswise, and add to bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Toss and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

3. Place lemon slices and their juice in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook down until lemons are candied and small amount of liquid in pan is sticky and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

4. To bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Roll one ball until large enough to fit into a 9-inch round tart pan. Dough will be crumbly (more shortbread than pie crust); if it falls apart, press it back together. Spoon confit over crust, spreading evenly. Roll out second ball of dough and place on top, sealing edges but making sure no crust overlaps the rim (or tart will be difficult to remove later).

5. Bake until edges of tart are lightly golden, about 35 minutes, then sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Return to oven for about 10 more minutes; edges should be lightly golden and crust cooked through but not browned. Serve warm or cooled.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

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64 comments on caustic confit

  1. Thanks for the heads-up about this recipe. I like your idea about swapping the crust for a delicious pate sucree. This is the time of year when I crave the fresh taste of lemon — lemon cakes, lemon risotto, lemon vinaigrettes. A lemon tart would be lovely!

  2. i love lemons! instead of squeezing the provided lemon wedges onto fish and chips, coke and what not, i always put them into my mouth to suck. so maybe i would like this tart!

  3. It’s the weather….bad weather karma, that’s all. You’ll be flying high again in no time. And when you are, you should re-do this recipe and thumb your nose at the original. It’s OK to feel a little snooty when you KNOW how it’s done.

  4. ohh that sucks, there´s little worse than anticipating a great outcome and getting a mess, just because the people who deviced the recipe were pretty much out of their minds.
    You´ve been getting too much bad luck lately, so a great week of cooking is in the works… I mean, it MUST be, I don´t want you to become so bummed you start cooking less, we wouldn´t stand that ;)
    I´d say you should do the pate-sucre lemon curd tart and get your spirits up. I´ve never had one of those fail, in fact, I´ve got a great recipe to pass along if you want to.
    Or just cook one of your classics to get out of the funk, new recipes can wait!

  5. SantaDad

    You’re all wrong. It has nothing to do with “karma.” Deb is being punished for failing to make the orange chocolate chip cake for which I have been asking the past few months. She always underestimates the powers of the force at Smitten Kitchen South.

  6. Too bad about the recipe. I liked the idea of candy lemons – but I am wary of any recipe using lemon pith since I rather mouth pucking chicken recipe disaster.

    The lemon cream pasta recipe with the same article is delicious and goes nicely with fish.

  7. Gretchen

    Deb, I lovelovelove that you post about your recipe failures as well as your successes. It’s part of what makes this blog so addictive and wonderful. I totally would have made this tart before I read your entry, so thanks for saving me from inevitable disappointment.

  8. Deb,
    I found your amazing website about a month ago and I am addicted! I LOVE LEMON, and also LOVE that you post about your failures.PLEASE, please make the lemon curd variation. I am a food blogger wanna be and a woman who loves to cook for family and friends. Your blog gives me inspiration and smiles…….. keep up the AMAZING writing, cooking, baking and picture taking! YOU ROCK!

  9. Oh no! That’s terrible- I had noticed that recipe on Wednesday and even mentioned it that day on my blog, saying how excited I was to try it. Now I know better, I guess. But please keep us posted if you work up the enthusiasm to try it again with your changes!

  10. Ellen

    I too pulled this recipe out of the NYTimes this week and am sad to hear about its suckage. Do you have any decent-and-not-impossible-to-make lemon tart recipes in your repetoire? I’ve been craving some ever since I saw the recipe and the nostalgia for study abroad in Paris that it brings. (Very Proust and the madeleine-esque).

  11. Darn! This sounds just like the thing I would love. Maybe one lazy weekend I’ll try to make it with the changes you recommend or whatever comes to my mind. I can’t believe that a recipe that sounds so so good doesn’t come out right.

  12. I actually made this tart last night with a friend for dessert. We both agreed that the tart would have been better if made with Meyer lemons, not the ordinary, super-puckery sort. My question is– isn’t a confit anything cooked in fat? Where was the fat in that lemon mixture?

  13. Deb,
    Have you tried the lemon curd recipe on It is, dare I say, THE BEST…EVER! It too can be used in a tart or a mouse. Me, I piped in the middle of Ina’s Flower Cupcakes, topped them with her to die for cream cheese icing and BOOM…my superbowl dessert is complete…

  14. How upsetting! This recipe scares me just reading it. When a recipe says something like “if it falls apart…”, that generally means that when I try it the entire thing will crumble into a million, unsalvagable pieces. At least yours still looks pretty!

  15. Jessica

    When you do summon the urge to make this your own way, you simply must post the new recipe – I love anything having to do with lemons and the new version sounds lemonicious!

  16. I love that you are completely honest with us, Deb. You let us know that not all dishes are raves and failures happen to everyone. It looks beautiful, you did try and you know what went wrong. Thank you for putting all the time and effort you do into each of your posts. It means a lot to us humble readers. :D

  17. Oh, that’s too bad! (But thanks for the honesty) I saw the photo and thought it looked soooo gorgeous.

    I’ve been cursing lemons in connecticut for the last three years, until I realized that my previous source of lemons (my parents’ lemon tree in my home state) grew meyer lemons. Oh I love meyer lemons – they smell like candy. It sounds like you’re right that the recipe would still be flawed even with meyers, though I wonder if it’d at least be edible. I’ll throw in a vote that you should try to fix this to make what you’re craving! What you described sounds wonderful.

  18. Carol in VT

    Curious – just how much DOES one have to “cough up” for nine lemons in a large metropolitan area? Could it be one of the bennies to living in the sticks?

  19. I was all set to try it — until DH came home from the store and mentioned that lemons were $1.50 each. Now I’m really glad he didn’t buy the lemons! They probably should have just peeled the lemons (I like using a potato peeler) and tossed the pith OUT.

    Just an FYI — I’ve had really good luck making lemon curd when lemons are cheap and freezing it.

  20. Oh, dear… That recipe looked so wrong to me from the start that I didn’t even clip it. But then again, I’d also made one of Marlena Spieler’s previous recipes from the Times (chili-spiked chickpeas) and been burned (no pun intended) ever so badly. I sort of avoid her now.

  21. I just learned of your site from a friend, and it is GREAT. I love the photography, having dabbled in food photos myself a bit. I love the recipes, and the writing is engrossing (especially when you use words like “ebullience.” I hope you don’t mind, but I added your link to my site to spread the news.

    Keep it up!

  22. Lisa

    I searched for any blog entries about this recipe even before I made it yesterday because I had my doubts. Couldn’t find any til after the fact, alas. I had the exact same experience: disappointment. Shockingly sour confit. Tough crust. The 3/4 cup sugar on top didn’t help, it just sits on top of the too-hard crust. (By the way, I molded the top layer inside a 9-inch pyrex pan and then peeled it up and transferred it). What a shame, and waste of 2 sticks of butter. My husband likes grapefruit so maybe he’ll find this edible and help make it vanish. Or naybe I’ll just use the shortbread, as cookie crumbs in something else.

  23. Yvo

    Your pictures still make it look lovely… Ah well. I know too well the average cooking thing… because in the past two weeks, everything I’ve made seems to just be alright, but not shine or stand out. It’s made me less apt to post about anything I’ve cooked and I’m relying on other things to even post about. Ah well, hopefully this will pass quickly… as quickly as this bitterly cold weather, wth.

  24. Don’t you hate it when something that sounds so good turns out so horrible? I had this happen to me with key lime cheesecake bars; the concept sounded amazing, but the results were inedible. Thank goodness it only happens once in a blue moon!

  25. Hmm…I’m glad I didn’t try that. My two favorite lemon tarts are the one from Patricia Wells’s Bistro Cooking (pate sucree, with a lemon/cream/egg/sugar filling, and something called Shaker Lemon Tart (or Pie) which I think was from the Times a long time ago, and used a standard pate brisee with a filling of sliced whole lemons, sugar and egg. The ratio of lemon to sugar is better than the one you just experienced, and the egg pulls the whole thing into a more custardy filling. Yum.

  26. I am still freaking out about those 5 layer homemade Oreo cupcakes you brought over last night. I was saving one for today but Tim stole it and ate it last night. Oh well.

  27. Madina

    Deb, sorry for the failing recipe. I was salivating over it when I first saw it in NY Times, but now I will have to introduce a few tweaks to the recipe. I love this recipe for the lemon tart from Nov. 2006 issue of Gourmet There is no need to make the curd separately, and I use my own recipe for pate sucree with a bit of lemon zest grated in. My baking time for the tart of often longer than the suggested 35 mins, and it easily be baked at 350 -375. Heck, once I even finished it at 450 on the bottom rack while the no-knead bread took over the top rack. So, easy and flexible tart recipe for you. Enjoy!

  28. Janet

    Just yesterday I made the chicken recipe from that same article and was very disappointed. In fact, I saved the article so that I could make the pasta later in the week (with my leftover lemon juice and peel) and since tarts usually scare me (especially ones with a top crust) I was going to try to convince my sister to make it. I’m sorry you wasted your time and ingredients. But you saved a lot of us the trouble–and I really do appreciate it!! I like the concept of that tart. Maybe there’s another version somewhere in the universe that we should try.

  29. AngAk

    I made a similar blender lemon pie that uses the whole lemon but only single crust, and found it inedible as well. Just way too bitter, and I used only 2 lemons. It kills me to dump things in the trash, but that’s where it ended up and I was so craving something lemony. Thanks for the heads up on this recipe.

  30. deb

    Lydia — Service journalism at it’s best, right? I kid. But seeing how many people appreciate the warning, I’m glad I brought it up. Now, if I could just get my mouth to recover from those two bites.

    Evinrude — Maybe. I mean, Alex did. But still, I think he was just being nice. And seriously, fresh lemons taste so much better than this. I find it impossible to believe that this recipe was tested by anyone.

    Kate — One can only hope! Lest Smitten Kitchen become a graveyard of failed recipes, that would just make me sad.

    Marce — I promise to make another lemon tart soon. Just not TOO soon.

    Mercedes — Hooray! As soon as I read this, I was so glad that it could be of some use as anything other than a page refresher. 9 lemons? Er, make lemonade? (Bah.) Lemon curd, a classic French lemon tart, or… ooh! Ina Garten’s Lemon Cake. You absolutely will not regret it.

    SantaDad — I think you jinxed me. And Smitten Kitchen South is BIG and it has a DRAWER with a garbage can in it, three sizable counters, a dishwasher, garbage disposal and a stove that can be cleaned with a single paper towel and three spritzes of Windex. I might move in.

    laura dot — There was a good recipe in there? I’m so glad to hear. Someone further down commented about the chicken being awful, so I was about to write the whole thing off.

    Gretchen, Corrine — Thank you.

    Emily — I will, promise. One day.

    Ellen — Actually, I’m eyeing several.

    But you can never go wrong with lemon curd (I link to one in the entry) in a full-baked tart shell, in my opinion.

    Anne — The ¾ cup sugar for 8 lemons should have given it away. Also, the taste I had before baking it (foul!). But we persevered. And now everyone can learn it by watching us, as that old commercial went.

    Nosheteria — I thought the same thing. But, then I found a definition along the lines of “either fruits or vegetables preserved in sugar, or meat preserved in its own fat.” Who knew? Maybe some butter would have saved this filling. ;)

    Married Girl — I’ve never met a lemon curd I didn’t like. Especially in cupcakes! I’ll look out for it.

    MaggPie — It was VERY difficult to roll out in one piece and lifting was pretty much impossible — the sugar covers several cracks. Frightfully bad recipe.

    Jessica — Will do.

    Marie Wolf — I’d have felt TERRIBLE. This is awful.

    Jenifer from Houston, Kristen — Thank you.

    Rachael — You had meyer lemons? In your yard? That is pretty much the coolest thing. One day, I’ll take a picture of what they cost here. You could so could have brought a truckload to Manhattan, and bought a place with the earnings!

    Carol in VT — I think at my local Garden of Eden they were 59 cents the other day, up from their usual 2/$1.00. I suspect they haven’t even begun raising the price. Did I ever tell you guys about the $8 pint of pecans? The humanity.

    Holly — Thanks for the tip! That sounds delicious.

    ann — A-ha! 2 cups of sugar for 2 lemons (versus ¾ cup for EIGHT). I can imagine that would make a world of difference, and will start here when I make the next one. Thank you!

    Luisa — No kidding! I wonder what they pay her for these articles, eh? I am pretty sure I will run in the opposite direction when I see her name again. She makes Bittman look like Cooks Illustrated.

    Patricia Scarpin — It would probably be much nice with oranges, but at least double the sugar. And you shouldn’t need 8. Let me know if you try it!

    Thirsty Bunny — Thank you.

    Lisa — Ack! Another one down the drain! Such a sad, avoidable waste of ingredients. I’ll try to get it posted even sooner next time. ;)

    Yvo — I think I’m getting back on tract, so I hope this means both of our bad spells have passed. I just need to, uh, post the good stuff too. One of these days…

    Jessie — Bad recipes! I rail against them! This is the reason I am such an Epicurious (reviews aplenty!) and Cooks Illustrated (testing aplenty!) junkie. And yet, I have this default trust of the New York Times, something I now realize they haven’t earned. Ah well.

    maggie — I can’t wait to make that version. It sounds like exactly what we’d HOPED this would be.

    Jocelyn — Haha. Obviously, I shouldn’t bother bringing anything else over ever again. So much less fun for me. :(

    Madina — Sounds so good! And I love the image of it baking alongside no-knead bread. I would never know what to eat first.

    Janet — I knew it! I’m sorry you wasted that chicken… and to fix your situation, apparently Amanda Hesser’s Lemon Chicken is pretty much the best thing ever. Try it! Now, I just need a replacement lemon tart.

    AngAk — I hate throwing things away too! Especially nine lemons after a citrus freeze. I am going back to only making recipes that have been verified by testers who are willing to swear on a stack of cookbooks that the recipe will work. Desperate times, desperate measures.

  31. Tai

    I had a whole month of terrible cooking luck last year, so I understand the disappointment. My funk ended with an attempt to make Giada de Laurentis’ recipe for Lemon Spaghetti. It was gross. I love lemons, parmesan cheese, noodles, olive oil… but for some reasons the proportions were off, and in spite of my painstaking measuring (by the end of the month I’d gotten paranoid, convinced that I’d inadvertently insulted the kitchen god) it was just a greasy disaster. I gave up, took three weeks off, and so far – knock on wood – I’m doing ok.
    Moral: You’ll bounce back!

  32. That is something that will really encourage your readers to actually try new things. We sometimes are led to believe that making a new recipe from a reliable source is a sure thing, but it is really more like an experiment and sometimes you don’t get the results you expect! This said, your pictures make something you felt was disappointing look damn good!

  33. laura

    I tried this recipe incredibly bitter. Tried to fix with some orange marmalade and a pinch of baking soda. Even tried after mixture was cooked to add in super fine sugar to increase the sweetness. No luck! It was sweeter but still bitter. Read up on how to confit, seems you need to broil fruit 2x to remove bitterness then add sugar and cook down. Finally tossed filling, divided the crust into two disc and froze them. Will eventually find something to do with them, even though not sure I even want to use the crust. I’m so glad I found this site thought it was me making the error in recipe.

  34. Jennifer

    Thank goodness it’s not just me. I had precisely the same experience with this seriously, seriously flawed recipe. The tart smelled bad – my husband’s word was “acrid” – and tasted vile. The Times ought to print a retraction, or at least a major overhaul of this disappointing (albeit attractive) dessert. It definitely was responsible for my biggest kitchen failure to date.

  35. My friend made this with meyer lemon and it still came out too intense. But good when eaten with enough dulce de leche ice cream to moderate the flavor down a few notches.

  36. I made this tart and after I stuck it in the oven, I did a search for the recipe. After I made the confit, I thought it seemed so odd that I checked to see if there was any more information about the recipe. It really seemed like a step had been left out. I so wish I’d done research sooner. I used 1/2 meyer lemons, and it was still extremely intense. Cut with some good ice cream, it is edible in very small portions. But it is not worth the time that goes into it by any means. I did like the shortbread though. I had a few remnants from the dough that I shaped into some little wafers that turned out quite yummy.

  37. Sara

    Hi there! I’m sorry this didn’t turn out for you, but I did want to note for any readers out there that I had a lot of success with this recipe. I made it with all meyer lemons for a dinner party, and we all found it to be delicious! I don’t think it works well with regular lemons, but with meyers it’s amazing. Definitely on the intense end of the lemon scale, but also very yummy. The shortbread was lovely too–sometimes I think things like how humid it is can have an effect? But we didn’t have trouble with crumbling in any case, and I would make the crust again and bake it up into cookies…yum!

  38. Hi Deb,
    You have done the world a favor by posting this. We made the recipe the day after it came out, with Meyer lemons from our tree. It really was almost inedible. Way too tart! What were they thinking? Perhaps there was a typo and there should have been another cup of sugar in the filling?
    We are going to try to make at least a half recipe of the filling again, but with fewer lemon rinds and more sugar, to see if we can salvage the recipe. Didn’t have the same problem that you did with the crust.

  39. Catherine

    With Lent fast approaching and the elimination of dairy products from my diet I was happy to see this recipe. But my husband is diabetic so I substituted Splenda for the sugar and left it off the top.
    A small piece with a strong cup of espresso was amazing! But then again any treat is good at this time of the year.

  40. Lisa H.

    I saved this recipe when it first appeared in the NYT and was just about to try it for my friend’s birthday dinner. Found your site by googling for a picture of the tart – thank you for saving me time and money!! The concept sounded delicious but now I will instead try the lemon-pistachio tart recipe you link to. Thank you again!

  41. Oooh, so glad I found this because you made me feel better. I attempted the same recipe, which was, if I remember correctly, a decent amount of work, and also ended up with something inedible.

  42. JGinNJ

    I love tart things, and loved the lemon filling. It appears that your “failure” is not a function of the act but of the audience. I presume when you make rhubarb pie your audience likes the common rhubarb flavored sugar pie versions.

  43. Sally

    Tastes do differ. A lot! Long years ago I made a game hen recipe that called for whole lemons–like this–in the sauce. My husband and son thought it was delicious and I found it inedible because it was so sour and bitter. I’ve heard that more women than men are particularly sensitive to bitterness, but I don’t know if that’s true.

  44. Dea

    I just wanted to say that the recipe is indeed flawed as you suspected.
    “Confit” is a preserve. In this case it should have been a sweet lemon preserve, not fresh raw lemons.
    How horrid this must have been! I’m surprised you didn’t realize it before trying it out.

    Look for sweet lemon confit at middle-eastern/african markets, or make your own.

  45. Anne

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I made this over the weekend, and I was embarrassed to serve it to my in laws. I’ve never thrown out a tart or pie before, but I had to on this one. Bitter city. It feels good to know I wasn’t the only one.

  46. Expat EricOnTwoWheels

    I wonder if it was a typo and was meant to be 3-4 cups of sugar, haha! I might try this, but leaving the pith out. I’m thinking of carving some long strips of zest off, then paring the pith off the lemon flesh and carrying on. Obviously it sounds like the pastry needs some attention too… I’ll report back after I try this, but don’t hold your breath; I’m only baking sweets (if this could be called a sweet dish) for myself at the weekends.

  47. Hahaha! I was just writing something about the perils of not following your instincts when a recipe is clearly WRONG. I Googled that crazy Lemon Tart recipe from the NYT and hit upon your post. My kids still make fun of me about that horrible tart!

  48. Rebekah

    I actually came across this recipe roughly 6 months ago and made it for a church gathering with the following adaptations: I sliced the lemons thiiiiiin on my mandolin and cooked them into confit goo. I made a shortbread for the bottom, but turned the recipe into a riff on lemon bars. The powdered sugar I sprinkled on top just absorbed right in, so next time it might go well with sweetened whipped cream, or a basil glaze, or a meringue. I guess my opinion of the recipe isn’t fair because I changed it so much. Still, it’s nice to hear others were awed on paper and underwhelmed in person.

  49. Sandy

    Hi there, I know this comment comes VERY late, but I love your blog and have been working my way through your entries for years. I love the way you try to tackle problems. Your hot NYC apt kitchen issues when making pie crust were very similar to the issues my heat and humid Miami kitchen offered despite the A/C being at full blast. Anyways, on this recipe, you made me think of typical Cuban recipes where they use the whole fruit, usually done with guavas, but also oranges and grapefruit. If you don’t have a local stream or river to leave your burlap sack full of peels and rinds in for a day to “de-sour” them like my grandma in the old country, then you might have to try the more modern adaptation. They separate the pulp leaving the peel and rind intact. The peel (and rind) are then either boiled or left over night in water. Either way, that water is discarded, and then add new water to boil when getting ready to make the final dish. Basically there are lots of ways to “skin” this cat, but basically, you need to deal with the peel separately to “de-sour” or “desamargar” it somehow, before combining things again….with sugar of course. I don’t know that you’d want to retry this recipe…seems intense, but I couldn’t help to offer this comment, given the many many times you’ve helped me out and provided me with delicious food with which to awe my family.

  50. Martin

    I frequently use recipes very from this site and read your blog regularly, but often I just look up what I am in the mood for and trust that you’ve worked out all the kinks. I don’t understand why you would present this tart in your recipe line-up if it were so bad- it would have saved me some time if you had a tab for “bad recipes” or “I could do it better – a recipe review.”

    Fortunately the zucchini bread was a great success.

    1. deb

      Martin — It’s funny because I get the opposite request quite often — “share your flops, too!” But I rarely do anymore because of what you say above. These days, if I share a flop it’s usually within a post about how I made it better. This recipe is from the first six months of the site, nearly 9 years ago, and I was still trying out different things.

  51. Martin

    Anyway, it was quite caustic – although my partner and a friend liked it and (I believe) struggled through a portion more than once. “it’s better the next day, I think it will be really good tomorrow!” I just blindly followed the directions – had one piece and today just a bit of the crust, which wasn’t remarkable in any way. Oh well – next time, I’ll read the entire entry. Meanwhile, everything else I have made has been an almost 100% success! thanks.