Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Tart

With a recipe name like... The Most Extraordinary Lemon Tart, your expectations are high. Very high.

And honestly, for me... it just didn't live up to the hype. And I love lemon. I really do. The texture of this was really nice, I did like that part a lot, but the crust was a little crunchy for me (even after a couple of days in the fridge) and I felt like the lemon flavor could have been enhanced somehow. Like with some raspberry sauce drizzled all over.

I rarely want whipped cream with my pies, tarts, etc... but, this tart was just begging for it. Sadly, I didn't have any.

It was good. Just not out of this world good. I actually thought that the filling was tastier when it was fresh out of the food processor. I think I might like this better with limes and lemons!

As far as making it goes... it wasn't too bad. It gave me the opportunity to buy some things I hadn't bought yet. Like... a microplane grater, a tart pan (although I couldn't find one, so I bought a quiche pan instead) and an instant read thermometer. This recipe required lots of stirring. But overall, not too scary.

Sorry for the crappy post. But it's the busiest week of the year for me... Better next week, I promise :) Thanks to Mary of Starting from Scratch for picking this recipe and be sure to check out all the other tarts over at Tuesdays With Dorie.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
From Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell

Getting ready:
Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water.

Off the heat, rub 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.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk - you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling - you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point - the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or 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.
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 on 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. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days 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.

Makes 8 servings.