This week's challenge for Tuesdays With Dorie was selected by Mary of Starting From Scratch. She chose "The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart". The lemon cream is indeed extraordinary. I also found it quite simple to make. I chose to make her nut crust, which replaced some of the flour with almond meal, and I also used a whole wheat pastry flour instead of the all purpose. The dessert turned out light, flavorful and the crust had a wonderful crunch to it. I made 6 individual tarts and found I really liked this approach- I've been able to hand out a tart here or a tart there. I do have some lemon cream left over and I think I may stir in some coconut milk and churn it up in my ice cream maker. Doesn't that sound delicious? This lemon cream really is versatile- I've already thought of so many uses for it. I'm sure I'll fill some cupcakes with it, top a cheescake, and use it in a trifle. It would be perfect for all of them. It is so deceptive I noticed- its very light and smooth- so light that you forget how much butter there is in it. This is not a health food.
I made the raspberry coulis and just dotted the top with it. I also tried it with creme fraiche and truthfully this wasn't my favorite coupling. Once again, my issues with food photography come into play here. I knew I should have read that camera manual! How do you all make your photos look so beautiful? I would love any tips you are willing to share.
The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
Zest of 3 lemons
1 Cup of Sugar
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter plus 5 Tablespoons at room temperature, cut into pieces
To Make the Lemon Cream you'll want to get all your necessary gadgets together: a bowl, metal or glass, a saucepan to set the bowl atop, a whisk, a thermometer, and a blender or a food processor. I used my food processor.Set a saucepan filled with a couple inches of water on the stove and bring to a simmer.
In a large bowl (I used a glass pyrex bowl) rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers. Whisk in the eggs, then the lemon juice.
Set the bowl on the saucepan and whisk slowly at first then more rapidly as your cream comes up to temperature. You're going to keep this up until your cream reaches 180 degrees ( I actually took mine a little higher to make it a bit thicker). I prefer to judge the readiness of the cream based on the look of it, not just the temperature as you never know when your thermometer may be off. You're looking for a noticeable thickness, and for the whisk to leave "tracks"- this means you'll see the lines in the cream the whisk leaves when you drag it through. It is very important to keep whisking away- you don't want your eggs to scramble. Once your cream is at the right stage, remove it from the heat.
Now strain the lemon mixture into your blender pitcher or the bowl of your food processor. Let the cream cool- you're looking for it to come down to about 140 degrees. Stir it every now and then.
When the mixture is at the proper cooled temperature, turn your machine to high, (with the lid on) and drop about 5 pieces of the softened butter in the feeder at a time. Keep going until you've incorporated all of your butter. At this point, keep the machine going on high for another 3 full minutes. This will ensure the butter is fully emulsified. Pour the cream into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream-touching the surface, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Don't be impatient now- this cream needs to be served cold and it will firm up as it chills.
While your cream chills, you can make your crust.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (grind whole almonds in a food processor until they resemble coarse flour)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 sticks plus 1 Tablespoon frozen butter ,cut into small pieces
1 1/2 egg yolk
Butter either one large tart shell or 6 individual tart shells with removable bottoms.
Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse for a few seconds to incorporate all the ingredients. Sprinkle the butter over the flour. Using the pulse button again, pulse about ten times to mix in the butter. It should look broken up but there can still be some bigger pieces at this point. Add the egg yolk a little at a time through the feeder tube and pulse it in. Once the yolk has been added, the dough may appear really really dry- don't despair. You're going to need to pulse your machine for 10 seconds at a time. Do this until you see your dough come together. You'll also notice a change in the way the machine sounds when the dough is ready.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a light hand knead the dough to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.
Press the dough into the shells and again, be gentle while doing so. You want your crust to be light and flaky and if you're rough during this stage it won't be. Prick the bottoms lightly iwth a fork. Place the crusts in the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Center a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the tart pans from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. For this dessert you'll need a fully baked crust- look for it to become a light golden brown- about 25 minutes for the large crust and about 15 minutes for the individuals. If the crust has puffed when you remove it from the oven, press it lightly with the back of a spoon.
Place on a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.
Assemble the tart by removing the tart shell from the pan and place it on a serving dish. Fill the shell with your cold lemon cream just before serving. Garnish with a lemon slice and enjoy!