Tag Archives: tart

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

21 Jan

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!

Ispahan Macaron

Ispahan Macaron

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.

Jardin de Versailles

Jardin de Versailles

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!

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

And of course – Le Tour Eiffel!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

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.

INGREDIENTS:

DIRECTIONS:

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.

  1. 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.

    Zest and Sugar

    Zest and Sugar

  2. 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.]

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

    Whisk Cream Mixture Over Double Boiler

  3. 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.

    Strain the Lemon Cream

    Strain the Lemon Cream

  4. 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.
  5. 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.]

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

    Pre-Plastic Wrap

  6. 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.

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

    The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

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.

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

A Tart Little Slice of Heaven

Thanks again, Shirley!  Looking forward to seeing what other goodies will come from this amazing book!

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Sweet Tart Crust (Pâte Sablée)

16 Jan

I failed at making a chocolate caramel pretzel tart a couple of months ago, and, while tasty, it might be the second ugliest thing I’ve ever made, just after those Apricot Pistachio Squares.  I had extra ingredients so I made minis of the tart (as shown below), and it’s not so noticeable.

But once I took the tarts out of their pants, the crust completely fell apart.  Leslie, Shirley, Tri, and Spencer came over for a little Middle Eastern potluck back in November.  You can see my crumbly hot mess of the tart at the top of the photo below.

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

Middle-Eastern Potluck!

On top of the fact that the crust fell apart, the caramel didn’t come out creamy enough so it hardened.  This all made the tart nearly impossible to cut with a fork without a messy explosion. Case in point below:

Can't Take Tri Anywhere

Can’t Take Tri Anywhere

I recently had an opportunity to redeem myself with another tart crust that doesn’t fall apart, when I came across a recipe for a deliciously buttery pâte sablée.  The flavor is rich and texture is similar to shortbread. I’m super excited to share the filling recipe soon, but I wanted to separate this recipe out since it’s versatile enough to be something I’ll definitely refer to again in the future.

Here is the recipe from a new cookbook I recently got, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in – you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

    Pulsed Dough

    Pulsed Dough

  2. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  When the egg is in, process in long pulses – egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change – heads up.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  4. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

    Dough Pressed Into Pan

  5. FOR A PARTIALLY BAKED OR FULLY BAKED CRUST:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the crust. Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

    Tightly Fit Foil Around Tart

  6. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

    Partially Baked Crust

    Partially Baked Crust

  7. FOR A FULLY BAKED CRUST: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. If you want a more browned crust, continue baking for another minute or two, but keep a very close eye on the crust as it can go from golden to too dark quickly. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

    Sweet Tart Crust

    Sweet Tart Crust

  8. TO PATCH A CRUST IF NECESSARY: If there are any cracks int he baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.

If you want to try a sweet tart dough with nuts, reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/4 cup finely ground almonds or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios).

Storing tip: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer – it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

Rustic Apple Tart

11 Oct

Kevin’s grandma turned 92 last Wednesday, so as a precursor to the birthday week, we had a little birthday celebration for her.  She can’t have nuts or chocolate, so I whipped up an apple tart.

Rustic Apple Tart

Rustic Apple Tart

Here’s the recipe, as adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who never lets me down with recipes:

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

  • 1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 6 T (or 3/4 stick) COLD unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 1/2 T chilled water

Filling:

  • 2 pounds apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced thinly  [NOTE: 2 pounds is about 5 small apples, and I could only squeeze in about 3 1/2 apples in my tart pan laid out the way I had it]
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 3-4 T sugar

Glaze:

  • 1/2 C sugar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
  2. Dribble in cold water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. The easiest way to do this is tablespoon by tablespoon out of a glass of ice water.  Toss dough with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If there are a lot of dry patches, add another half tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll the dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.  Joe and Elsa got us this SWEET pastry mat that made it so much easier to roll out my dough to the right size around.  I don’t know about you, but my pie crust circles always end up more like an oval, so this really helped.

    Pastry Mat Lined with Parchment

    Pastry Mat Lined with Parchment

  4. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased 9.5-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you want to go galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400°F.
  6. Overlap apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

    Arrange Your Apple Slices

    Arrange Your Apple Slices

  7. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over dough edge and the other 2 tablespoons over apples. You can use another tablespoon if you like your tarts really sweet.

    Before the Glaze

    Before the Glaze

  8. Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
  9. While your tart is baking, make the glaze. Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with 1/2 cup sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup.

    Cook Down Sugar and Apple Remnants

    Cook Down Sugar and Apple Remnants

  10. Remove tart from oven, slide onto cooling rack, and let cool at least 15 minutes.
  11. Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.  Vanilla ice cream pairs wonderfully with this!

I made the tart the night before the party (and glazed it the night before) and the tart wasn’t soggy or anything.  It’s a really delicious tart.  Next time I make this, I may add a wee pinch of cinnamon to in the melted butter that gets brushed onto the tart prior to folding the crust over.

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel

11 Feb

Not a lot of time but severely backlogged on posts, so here’s a quick one!

I made this as part of Christmas dinner dessert (yes, very late on these posts) for my dad and I as the final round to my Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012.  He’s diabetic and while I’ve tried to make diabetes-friendly baked goods before, they just aren’t the same.  So, I found a dessert recipe on Smitten Kitchen with relatively low sugar in it.

Add Butter and Sugar

Add Butter and Sugar

Most of the sweetness comes from the apples.  I picked Fuji for this batch since they’re naturally a bit sweeter than Granny Smith. I also cut down on the amount of sugar that the recipe called for to be sprinkled on top of the tart prior to its first round in the oven. This tart wasn’t that hard to make, but it was definitely tedious making every thinly sliced apple layer perfect within the visual masterpiece.  While the tart was baking, I started the salted caramel in the last 10 minutes of baking time.

Salted Caramel Glaze

Salted Caramel Glaze

This was my first time making anything with puff pastry, though I’ve eaten my fair share of homebaked goods entailing aforementioned flaky layered goodness… enough to know there are a lot of bad puff pastries out there. I used DuFour puff pastry for this and don’t recommend anything less – it’s the best stuff money can buy and worth every penny!  Smitten Kitchen recommends it too!

Ready for Glazing

Ready for Glazing

My dad and I ended up eating about 2/3 of the tart after our hearty dinner (which I’ll post about eventually!).  It was so addicting hot out of the oven, and would have been absolute heaven with some cinnamon ice cream on top!

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze

I also made this again for the Annual Sho-Yu Holiday Party we have every January along with a batch of Samoas Cupcakes, the official team cupcake.

Plenty more updates coming!  Until next time!