Sunday, February 7, 2010
Lemony Tassies--What's a Tassie, You Ask?
(Photos by Anthony Palatta)
Last year, the venerable Betty Crocker company put out a Christmas cookie magazine (excuse me, Holiday cookie magazine) featuring ways to use their products in ways nature probably never intended. According to this magazine, Linda Bibbo of Ohio won $500 for her use of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix for her "Lemon Dream Tassies" recipe, and after trying it, I can promise you she earned every penny.
What's a tassie, you ask? I had to look it up myself. It can mean a number of things including a wine goblet, a decorative ring, or as in this case, a miniature tart.
The recipe calls for adding ground almonds, cream cheese, and melted butter to Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix, then making little tart crusts in a mini-muffin pan. After they're baked, you can fill them with lemon or lime curd (Ms. Bibbo says to buy a 12-oz jar), then top with a mix of Betty Crocker frosting and cool whip, and garnish with zest and a sliced almond.
I decided to do without the garnish. I also decided, why buy curd, when thanks to Martha Stewart, I have a fantastic and easy recipe for lemon curd that's better than any variety you'll find in a jar. (Note: "curd," despite its unappetizing name, is basically a delicious custard often used to fill tarts.)
Though Martha's recipe is for lemon curd, I've found you can make it in lime, pink grapefruit, and orange flavors. All you do is substitute the zest of whatever citrus fruit you're using for the lemon zest in the recipe, and instead of the amount lemon juice called for, use half lemon juice and half the-other-citrus juice.
One note: the orange curd works, but after trying it for this recipe, it tasted weird in concert with the cookie crusts for tassies, so I've discontinued it.
Another note: when you first make the curd, the lime and grapefruit flavors may come out a bit runnier at first than the lemon. No worries. It'll set up fine when it chills in the fridge.
While the curd chills, I make the cookie crusts. After making the dough, you need to roll it into balls and then press it into each cup of your muffin tin. This laborious process was made easier by the fact that my partner (who took the fabulous photos!) used to be a dentist and happened to have an old rubber mallet for hammering gold fillings. It makes a great tassie-crust shaper. Also, during cooking, the crusts puff up, so midway through, I hammer them down again with the dental mallet. Don't worry if they come out a bit hard. Actually the more well done the better, because after the curd goes in, it softens the crust.
I have only one complaint with this recipe: If Betty Crocker ever stops making their sugar cookie mix, I'm screwed!