A long time fan of ispahan and admirer of French pastries, I had to take advantage of being in Paris a few months ago and try one of Pierre Hermé’s famous ispahan macarons!
Here are a couple more fun snaps from our time in Paris. Italy photos to come soon! The Palace of Versailles was one of our favorite stops on this trip.
We’re standing in front of the Arc de Triomphe below, on the outside of what Kevin and I coined the “Frogger Roundabout”. A lot of tourists didn’t realize there was a tunnel that led you from where we are standing underneath the roundabout and right under the gorgeous monument. People were nuts and played frogger, dodging cars to get to the Arc!
And of course – Le Tour Eiffel!
Shirley gave me the Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook for Christmas this past year, and feeling inspired from our trip, the first recipe (of many) that caught my eye was of course Pierre Hermé’s lemon cream. The “Most Exquisite” in the title was enough of a sell to pique my interest! This is way different from lemon curd, though they both use the same ingredients. With lemon curd, you cook everything together til it thickens and then strain it. With this lemon cream recipe, you cook everything but the butter til it thickens and then whip the butter into it until it’s fluffy. Even though the only dairy in it is butter, it really does feel more like a cream. Truly remarkable!
Here’s the recipe as adapted from the book. I recommend reading through the entire recipe first before starting, as paying attention to the details are important for this one.
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest of 3 lemons
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (from about 4 medium lemons)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
- 1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough, fully baked and cooled
Getting ready: Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor by your side. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
- Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.
- Fit the bowl into the pan (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels slightly warm to the touch. Cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk, you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. The cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. At this point, the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience – depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes. [NOTE: I whisked for exactly 10 minutes on the dot before the temp hit 180 degrees. Also, if you happen to take your eyes off of the cream for just enough time to let the cream get a few traces of scrambled eggs in it, fear not. You’ll strain the cream later anyway.]
- As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
- Turn the blender to high or turn the processor and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
- Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. [NOTE: The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 day or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.]
- When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.
I brought this to a holiday potluck at Leslie and Tri’s so that Shirley and Spencer could try it as well. In hindsight when I make this again, I’ll definitely make some whipped cream to go with it. The lemon cream is SO silky and delicate, but very tart. I think a dollop of whipped cream would have been perfect complement.
Thanks again, Shirley! Looking forward to seeing what other goodies will come from this amazing book!