Monday, December 17, 2012

Meyer Lemon Tart

My dad is visiting for a month from Shanghai. He works there, mom and I live here. We picked him up from the airport Saturday night, drove home, mom made a feast and by the time the dishes were cleaned, the table wiped down, it was still 8pm. My dad’s eyes were red and he was fighting to keep them open, it was 9 in the morning in China. So to help out, we took him to a popular dessert cafĂ© in Richmond Hill, teeming with shrieking teenagers and lovey dovey couples. 

When the waiter set down our order of tiramisu ice cream on top of Bailey’s cheesecake and waffles with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream, my dad’s face brightened instantly, he dug in and couldn’t stop raving how fantastically enormous the portions were, how perfectly smooth the ice cream was on his tongue, and how it didn’t melt right away so he could fully enjoy both plates at once. He had forgotten about his jet lag and proceeded to finish the cake, nearly licking the plate clean.

I inherited my dad’s insatiable sweet tooth. Throughout the day, my mind doesn’t shut up about sugar. I’ve fantasized about meyer lemons since reading about them everywhere. They’re hard to find here, but when I stumbled on them in a grocery store, I skipped straight to the cashier and immediately searched for recipes to use their intoxicating properties. They smell unlike any other lemon I’ve used, more floral with a sweeter juice. I first used them in a pound cake, grating the zest into the thick batter and even diced up lemon skin, throwing it into the mixing bowl to make the most of my purchase. The cake was a little dry and though it smelled like a lemon garden as it rose in the oven, it wasn’t special enough.

Nonetheless, I still had four lemons left.  I love tart crust; a crumbly cookie texture with a sweet, creamy filling always makes my day. I’m not a fan of making them however, tart crust requires patience, patience and more patience, something I strive to have one day. I get restless molding it evenly into the pan. The dough can be finicky, uncooperative, a plain nuisance. I’m bored just writing about it.

And yet, tarts rank at the top of my favourite things to eat. Savoury or sweet, I like them all. This meyer lemon tart is extremely lemony, there’s plenty of lemon juice and zest, so much that the lemon curd darkens to a nearly golden complexion. But next time, I’d separate the pulp from the juice to yield a smoother lemon curd, a crucial step that made the other lemon tart so satiny and irresistible. This crust is easy to work with unlike other recipes I’ve come across. I later found this useful article that I’ll definitely refer to in my next tart-making-escapade.

Still jet lagged, my dad ate the few remaining pieces of the tart after dinner, standing up, with a mug of tea in hand. He fell asleep on the couch thirty minutes later, his head bowed down, loud snores in rhythmic timing, a reminder of how good it feels to see my dad again.

Meyer Lemon Tart
From Martha Stewart

A trick to making excellent tart crust is making sure your ingredients are cold. I read somewhere that hardcore pastry chefs keep their crust ingredients in the fridge to keep them cool. In this recipe, I kept the butter in the fridge until I was ready to use it and used icy water.

For the crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Ice cold water

For the lemon curd
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest plus 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from about 3 medium-sized lemons)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F. To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, salt and zest in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your hands until dough just starts to hold together.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of ice cold water and vanilla and mix into the dough. Add more water by tablespoonfuls until the dough is easier to work with and you can shape it into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grease a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Remove dough from fridge and using your fingers, press dough evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Bake tart shell for 25 minutes, until golden. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until curd thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time. Stir until all the butter has melted.

Pour filling into the cooled tart shell. Bake until filling is browned, slightly puffed, and set, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Recipe here!

No comments:

Post a Comment