Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tarte au Citron (Lemon Tart)

I still can't kick my infatuation of all things French since our recent Paris trip so when looking for a light and elegant dessert to take to a dinner party, I tested my patisserie skills on an authentic tarte au citron.  I researched a number of recipes before landing on a hybrid of a french sabayon lemon filling courtesy of Thomas Keller and a simple pastry crust from Ina Garten.  Ina's lemon meringue tart also looked divine however I was looking for the proper french method and I wasn't up for fussing with meringue. 

I can say with confidence that I will not be deviating from this lemon tart filling. Ever.  It was perfection as far as I'm concerned.  The lemon was bright and fresh without being overwhelmingly tangy and the texture was light, I'm talking cloud-like, yet creamy at the same time. 

So anyway.. here it is.  I did one and one half times recipe to fill a 10 inch tart shell, I had a little more than I needed but trust me it didn't go to waste.  I poured the extra into a ramekin and enjoyed it straight up- almost like a mousse- the next day. It would be lovely served this way too, maybe with a handful of fresh raspberries in the bottom.

Lemon Sabayon:

3 large eggs, cold
2 large egg yolks, cold
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice (I used 2 meyer lemons* and 1 regular lemon)
zest of one meyer lemon
9 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 9 pieces

*Meyer lemons are a splurge but worth it if you can find them.  They have a delicate lemon flavor with almost a hint of orange.  They have an orange hue to them as well as you'll see compared to a regular lemon.

I'm giving you the instructions verbatim because it worked beautifully for me and I don't want anything to get lost in translation...

"Bring about 1 1/2 inches of water to a boil in a pot that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the bowl you will be using for the sabayon. Meanwhile, in a large metal bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is smooth.

Set the bowl over the pot and, using a large whisk, whip the mixture while you turn the bowl (for even heating). After about 2 minutes, when the eggs are foamy and have thickened, add one-third of the lemon juice. Continue to whisk vigorously and, when the mixture thickens again, add another one-third of the lemon juice. Whisk until the mixture thickens again, then add the remaining lemon juice. Continue whisking vigorously, still turning the bowl, until the mixture is thickened and light in color and the whisk leaves a trail in the bottom of the bowl. The total cooking time should be 8 to 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen slightly, but it will thicken and set as it cools. Pour the warm sabayon into the tart crust and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Preheat the broiler. While the sabayon is still warm, place the tart under the broiler. Leaving the door open, brown the top of the sabayon, rotating the tart if necessary for even color; this will take only a few seconds, so do not leave the oven. Remove the tart from the broiler and let it sit for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve at room temperature or cold."  (I refrigerated mine for 24 hours.  Let the tart sit out 20 minutes before serving.)

Read More
The tart shell can be made a few hours in advance.  I have to say this was yummy but not remarkable.  Mostly likely because the lemon filling stole the show.
Tart Shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 stick of cold unsalted butter, diced
4-5 tablespoons of ice water

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse one or two times.  Next add the butter chunks (which I also freeze for 10 minutes or so) and pulse until the mixture has only small clumps.  Lastly, add the ice water (starting with 4 tablespoons and adding if needed) and process until the mixture just forms a ball of dough.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour before rolling it out as you would a pie crust.

Lay the dough gently into a 9 or 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (Next time I would do 1.5 times the recipe if I were using a 10 inch tart pan.)   If you try to stretch the dough, it will shrink back up while baking.  Roll a rolling pin over the top to cut off any extra dough.  Line the crust with a piece of tin foil coated with nonstick spray and then fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Carefully lift the pie weights/beans out using the tin foil and prick the pastry all over with a fork.  Return to the oven and bake 10-15 minutes more until lightly golden brown.

Cool before filling.

I served the tart with a few fresh raspberries on the side.  I neglected to get any pictures as I served it so you'll have to trust me that it was beautiful AND delicious.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bourbon Ginger Peach Cocktail

This cocktail desperately needs a cool name... I can't seem to think of a good one at the moment but I wanted to post this before the sun sets on peach season. 

This is the perfect for SEC football beverage as its a lovely concoction of Kentucky Bourbon and either South Carolina or Georgia peaches (depending on who we're playing.)  John found this recipe on Garden & Gun's website and it is right up my alley.

Muddled fresh peaches (or pears as we get further into fall), a warm and spicy fresh ginger simple syrup and your favorite Kentucky Bourbon... how can you go wrong?

Ginger Simple Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil over medium high heat.  As soon as the sugar dissolves, turn off the heat and let steep for one hour before straining the syrup. (Keeps in the fridge for a week or two.)

To make the cocktail,  muddle two fresh peach slices (peeled) in the bottom of an old fashioned glass with 1 tablespoon of the syrup.  Top with lots of ice, 3 ounces of bourbon and a splash of soda.  (I tried a splash of ginger beer which was also excellent.)  Garnish with another peach slice, find a comfy spot on the back deck and enjoy.  Warning: these go down rather easy so pace yourself! 

Double Chocolate Torte

I recently hosted a super girly surprise 30th Birthday party for a friend that happens to have... we'll call it an affinity for chocolate.  I was searching for something elegant AND decadent to start her third decade off right and stumbled upon this double chocolate torte recipe from Bon Appetit magazine also featured on a fave food blog of mine, Smitten Kitchen.

The torte consists of a rich, fudgey cake/brownie layer and a light and smooth, yet equally chocolaty, mousse layer.  A simple garnish of fresh raspberries gives it a "grown up" look while balancing out the richness of the chocolate.   The Birthday Girl is also pregnant with twins so I had to improvise on the chocolate mousse layer to avoid the raw eggs.  My whipped cream version worked quite nicely if I do say so myself...

This recipe does require a few hours of chilling time however it can be made a day or two ahead which makes it great for entertaining.  It serves 8-10 people easily. 

Cake Layer:

8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar
4 extra large eggs (or 5 large)
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flour

For cake:

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan; dust with sugar.

Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.

Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Cover; chill while making mousse..

Read More

Mousse Layer:

8 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups of whipping cream
3-4 tablespoons of confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon of Cointreau/Grand Marnier, Kahlua or Vanilla extract

1 cup of fresh raspberries for garnish

Let the cake layer cool COMPLETELY before topping it with the mousse layer.  If its warm at all it will melt the whipped cream into a soggy mess.  Note: leave it in the springform pan until ready to serve.

Melt the chocolate with 2 tablespoons of the whipping cream in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. 

Let cool to room temperature.  (You can put the chocolate in the fridge for 30 minutes to speed the process along.) 

Whip the cream (ice cold is optimal) in a standing mixer until it just starts to thicken.  Add the sugar and liqueor and whip until peaks form.  It should be thick but not clumpy. 

Add a large scoop of the whipped cream to the bowl of chocolate and gently fold to lighten the chocolate a bit.  Then add the rest of the cream and gently fold with a spatula until the mixture is  no longer has streaks of chocolate. 

Spread the mousse over the cake layer while still in the springform pan.  I used a metal spatula warmed in a mug of hot water to smooth the top before placing the raspberries along the edge of the cake.  Chill for a minimum of 4 hours before serving. 

When ready to serve, warm a sharp knife in a mug of hot water first.  This will help you make neater slices.

Decadent for sure- a tiny slice will do ya- and absolutely delicious.  This one will definitely be a go-to Special Occaison cake from here on out.  You could fancy it up it even more with piped florettes of whipped cream along the edge or some extra shaved chocolate over the top.   Either way, I'd highly reccomend a glass of port, bubbly or red wine with this one.