Bruleed Lemon Tart at Joan's on Third
The sweets at Joan's on Third can be hit or miss, but the bruleed lemon tart ($6) may be the perfect afternoon snack. The crust holds a deep pocket of silky smooth lemon custard that is essentially a glorious cache of lemon curd. The tart is bruleed to add a thin, crackling top with spots of caramelized sugar. With the interior's restrained sweetness and light floral notes, this tart is an elegant yet swoon-worthy treat.
Lemon Bar at Jamaica's Cakes
I love lemon bars, and Jamaica's Cakes makes one of my favorite versions ($2.95). The filling is the perfect balance between sweet and tart; the lemon augmented by a subtle hint of lime. The filling is the right texture: just firm enough to stay together, and not gummy, loose, or difficult to eat. The top has a thick layer of powdered sugar and the crust adds the requisite, contrasting crunch.
Zesty Lemon Cream Pie at Republic of Pie
If you're in the mood for a big ole hunk of something sweet, a slice of this pie is just the thing ($4.95). The filling is a cool, smooth, semi-firm lemon cream. It's slightly more sweet than tart, though a scattering of lemon zest over the top of the pie perks up the flavor. Retro-wonderful curls of homemade whipped cream make this comfort food all the way.
Lemon Macarons at 'Lette Macarons
With their sunny yellow shells, these cookies ($2) have the signature vivid look of Lette macarons. The focus on flavor matches the careful aesthetics—each macaron has a thin, easy to crack top that gives way to an airy cookie and a soft layer of lemon filling. That filling is pleasantly tart, tasting of actual lemon juice.
Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcake at Frosted Cupcakery
Frosted Cupcakery's lemon cream cheese cupcake ($2.95) may sound odd, but the tangy frosting is the perfect base for the bright citrus flavor. To balance the assertive frosting, the cake is only subtly lemony, but, more importantly, it's extremely moist. The frankly normal size of the cupcake, the ease with which it squishes down under your teeth, and the restrained ratio of cake to frosting all combine to make the cupcake feel (deliciously) homemade.
Lemon Bar at Buttercake Bakery
With a name like Buttercake, you probably won't be surprised to hear that the draw of this bakery's lemon bar ($2.75) is the buttery, crumbly shortbread crust. It even has a slightly toasted flavor, which contrasts nicely with the extra tart lemon filling.
Lemon Fonut at Fonuts
Sure, the lemon fonut at fonuts ($3.25) is more like a ring-shaped cake, but I'm never one to discriminate based on shape. Especially not when the sweet in question has a tart, bright, zesty lemon icing. The fonut body is moist and a little dense, pushing it even more into cake territory. Those with dietary restrictions will appreciate that it's vegan and gluten free.