Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

Mary of Starting From Scratch selected The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie Challenge. This is a dessert that was at the top of my “to make” list ever since I read about how Dorie Greenspan acquired the recipe for lemon cream, which is the filling in this recipe. As it goes, Ms. Greenspan and the famed pastry chef, Pierre Herme were working on their first book together, when he quietly let her in on his creative genius in the form of lemon, egg yolks and butter. Rather than creating a traditional lemon curd, which gently cooks together butter, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice, producing an intense lemon flavored spread; Chef Herme’s lemon cream heats egg yolks with lemon zest, juice, and sugar, which is cooled and then blended with butter, producing an emulsion, which, as we know, is what happens when two liquids which ordinarily do not mix well, are merged together. An emulsion can be defined as a suspension of tiny droplets of one liquid in a second liquid. At any rate, this process of making lemon cream somehow takes it to a wholly luscious new level. It tastes like velvet in your mouth and you won’t ever want to go back to eating plain old lemon curd after this. Paired with Dorie Greenspan’s perfect, never-fail sweet tart dough, I can’t think of a better combination of flavors.
Erin also created this dessert as part of the TWD challenge. Here is what she had to say about her experience: This has been a hectic week and I thought I would not have time to make the tart this week. However, with a few modifications I made it last night. The first problem was that my grocery store had no lemons on Sunday night! Can you believe that, I couldn't find a lemon in site, not even in the organic section. Haven't checked to see is some type of lemon shortage here in Maryland, but I found this rather disturbing. I really love citrus desserts and wanted to try this out, so thought I would create a lime tart. I used the zests of 4 limes, and needed the juice of 5 limes to get the 3/4 cup necessary. I was nervous when making the dough. It just seemed like a fine powder for such a long time. Eventually the dough did come together, but it took longer than I expected. I realized that I only have a 11 inch tart pan (the recipe called for a 9 inch pan), so I had to be careful pressing out the dough so it would cover the entire pan.

Well, I am happy to report that the lack of lemons in Maryland did not make this challenge a failure. The lime cream is heavenly. I would have eaten a lot more of it last night if I didn't know how much butter was in it. Since my crust didn't come out of the oven until 10:30 last night I didn't have time to put the dessert together. I'm looking forward to doing that tonight.
Please visit TWD to vicariously enjoy all the other Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tarts out there!

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
"From My Home to Yours", By Dorie Greenspan
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 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, or sweet tart dough with nuts, or spiced tart dough; fully baked and cooled

Getting Ready: have an instant read thermometer, a strainer, and a blender (first choice) 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 the 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 or food processor on high and with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed to 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.

Sweet Tart Dough
"From My Home To Yours", by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 total tablespoons) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Preparation: In the bowl of your food processor, pulse flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt to combine. Scatter pieces of butter over dry ingredients and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in (some pieces will be the size of oatmeal and some will be the size of peas). Stir the yolk to break it up and add it little by little, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses, around 10 seconds each, until the dough forms clumps and curds. Alternatively, you can cut the mixture in a large bowl with a pastry blender until you have clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead dough very lightly to incorporate any dry ingredients that escaped mixing.
Prepare your tart pan by buttering all inside surfaces. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. 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 prior to baking.

To Bake Crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. The crust can be baked without pie weights since you froze it prior. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Inspect your crust and press down any puffed up parts with the back of a spoon. Bake an additional 10 minutes until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer tart pan to a cooling rack and cool crust to room temperature prior to filling.


Rebecca said...

Lime cream ... mmmmmmmm. Bet it'd make a great filling for a margarita pie. Such a great idea!

LyB said...

Lime sounds amazing, wonderful idea! When life doesn't give you lemons, use limes! :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I love limes even more then lemons, so I can imagine that your version was luscious! Yum!

Annemarie said...

I've been wanting to try this one, too, but NEVER would have on my own! Lime sounds delish!

Melissa said...

I'll have to try lime next time. Sounds wonderful!

Natalie said...

Very pretty, and I'm glad your lime worked out (mine was a mess :)

Donna said...

ooooo....Lime sounds like heaven!
I'll have to try that next time!

Carrie said...

I would say "velvet in you mouth" is the perfect way to describe this! Nice tart!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wow, I really love the crust in the photo, it looks just perfect! The cream looks tasty too!

CB said...

oohhhh lime cream. That sounds yummy. Awesome way to improvise. Lovely tart.
Clara @ I♥food4thought