Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart

Let me just say I am extremely excited to finally be able to use my tart pan again. I bought it a long time ago and I think I made one thing, but have not made anything else to date in it.

For some reason I have always had a major issue trying to zest something. While my husband was at the store I asked him to get a micro-plane thingie to zest the lemons that was on his list, I have one tool, but when I tried to zest it didn't work. Well unfortunately he couldn't find a zester and came home with a bottle of dried lemon zest. I got down to making the Lemon Cream and opened that bottle, yikes - it smelled so strongly of preservatives or something.....I was worried that it wouldn't turn out. The recipe calls for you to rub the zest into the sugar to "aromitize" (my word) the sugar. Well since it was dried I decided to drop a tablespoon of boiling water to rehydrate the zest and then rubbed it into the sugar. After that it was easy until I got to the cooking stage. It took forever to get that sucker up to 180 - I was using a glass bowl, but for the future I think I am going to purchase a stainless steel bowl. Eventually I sorta stopped whisking the mixture at the end to let it get up to that heat...I could have been incorporating too much air for the mixture to cook by stirring so much. It was definitely interesting when I strained that mixture I had a lot of gunk so I realize this is a very important step. By the time I got the mixture strained and into the food processor it had cooled quite a bit below the recommended 140, so I was concerned if the butter would incorporate correctly.

But in the end the lemon cream was perfect.

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 Tablespoons (21 Tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces
1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell

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.

To Make The Lemon Cream:Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over a 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. My Notes: I used a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, added the sugar, zest and then whisked in the eggs and lemon juice just until foamy. Then I set the mixing bowl over the pan of hot water. Others were having trouble reaching a temperature of 180 degrees, but I think that's because they used glass and not stainless steel.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and 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 the cream is getting closer to 180°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 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.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into food processor; discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating 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 beat 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 chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.Refrigerate until ready to serve.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (9 Tablespoons) very cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

To Make The Dough: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. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10 seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the 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. 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.

To Press The Dough Into The Pan: 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. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces clinging to one another, but not so hard that the crust looses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Bake The Crust:Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling. Serves 8-10.

edited: for some reason I am having issues uploading photos....will try again later.


Madam Chow said...

I'm looking forward to the photos, and so glad it turned out well. We loved it.
Madam Chow

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Sometimes Blogger is funny like that, but good on you for posting, nonetheless!

Amy said...

Oh, thank you for the light bulb that just went off in my head... use a stainless steel bowl instead of glass! What a revelation. I didn't even think about that. i can't wait to see the pics!

cruisingkitty said...

Can't wait to see the photos. I'm sure it was delicious looking!

Anonymous said...

It was fun to make, and yours sounds nice!

LyB said...

I've never heard of dried lemon zest! Sounds like your tart turned out great!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your cream turned out, even with the "issues"!
Can't wait to see the photos!

Lauren said...

Sounds DELISH! Please post some pictures so I can lick the computer screen! No calories that way ;)

Melissa said...

never hear of dried lemon zest...but you NEED a microplane!

CB said...

Aromatize! Love made up words. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Natalie said...

I'm not sure that I would have thought of using dried lemon zest instead, good idea! Looking forward to the pictures :)

Gretchen Noelle said...

Glad you enjoyed this weeks recipe!

Jaime said...

hope to see photos soon!

i never thought that i might be whisking too much and that's why my cream didn't get up to temp