Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dorie Greenspan's Lemon Cream Tart

The snow continues to fall here in Montana and it really feels like this winter will never end. I did do some snowboarding yesterday and it made me not mind the snow so much. Today, however, I declare that I am finished with it. This tart was the perfect dessert to get me in the mood for spring. Its light and tart and sweet and creamy and really, really satisfying.

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

Lemon Cream

Zest of 3 lemons
1 Cup of Sugar
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice
4 Eggs
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.

Nut 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!


LyB said...

Your tart looks beautiful! I'm intrigued with the nut crust, I might try that next time. I agree that the lemon cream is quite versatile, could be used in a number of yummy things!

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

It DOES taste like spring.

OK, for the photos ... you can turn off the flash, use white poster board to reflect light, take your pics with natural light, and use your digital camera's close-up setting. Shhhhhhh.


Shari said...

Your raspberry coulis looks delicious on the tart. You'll have to let us know how the coconut lemon ice cream turns out! I love the sound of that.

Annemarie said...

You were busy baking! It was worth it-everything looks fabulous!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your tart looks fabulous, but coconut lemon ice cream sound DIVINE! Let us know how it turns out!

Mary said...

Thanks for the comments! The ice cream turned out really good- but I LOVE ice cream, so I always think its good. It was a fun way to use up the lemon cream. I churned it away, then swirled in the rest of the raspberry coulis. I did need to add a little liquid sugar ( I use a product called Sugarshots- its a liquid, organic sugar) and I added a splash of lemon and coconut extract to pump up the flavor.

Mary said...

looks wonderful....ice cream would be fantastic!

cruisingkitty said...

OOOhhhh! Nut crust! I should have tried that, it sounds so yummy! I love how the raspberry coulis sets off the light lemon color. I used white chocolate for decorations on mine. It was just too plain looking without something extra.
Great Job!

Natalie said...

Oh, that sounds like awesome ice cream! I think your tart is beautiful! (can't help with the photo tips, mine are pathetic :)

Anonymous said...

i love the raspberry coulis on top - great thought!

for pics - ditto Rebecca and i'll add a couple of things...
your close up setting is called the macro setting and it's usually indicated by a little flower. take LOTS of pics from all different angles and ranges. you can always set your plates/bowls on different colored napkins, dishtowels, or tableclothes for a little extra punch of color. hth!

Madam Chow said...

Don't know how everyone's photos look so good (I'm a novice), but your tart looks great, and I love the photo at the top of your blog.
Madam Chow

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Great job! The nut crust sounds so good. Maybe I'll do that when I make this again.

Anonymous said...

Your tart is just lovely. I'm glad to see a nut crust! :-)

Melissa said...

The raspberry is certainly a great spring complement to the lemon!

Gretchen Noelle said...

What a fun spotted tart! I also swirled raspberry coulis into my tartlets! Great job on this weeks recipe!

CB said...

Agreed about the hand-out-ability of tarts! Thats what I did too. Love the dots of raspberry coulis. great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought