Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sweet 'n' Tart: a Luscious Lemon Mousse Dessert

While waiting in line at my local Whole Foods, I was glancing through Saveur Magazine and came upon a recipe that stopped me in my tracks. Created by pastry chef-bakery owner Ayako Kurokawa, who runs a bakery called Burrow in Brooklyn, this tart is a show-stopper, and not terribly hard to pull off if you do it over several days.

The tart recipe consists of a shortbread pie crust filled with lemon mousse that's topped with a light layer of lemon curd, and then candied lemon. But what really sets it apart is the fact that Kurokawa cuts the scraps from the pie crust into decorative cookies and then glues them to the outside of the crust with white chocolate. Pretty, right? I couldn't decide which angle to show off my pie, so here's another shot:

I actually made this tart twice, the first time for practice, and the second time to take to a birthday party. After my first go-around, which was very successful, I learned a few things. 

First, the outside cookies become even more dramatic if you cut them thinly and use soaring, dramatic shapes that rise up above the rim of the tart shell, though be warned, the cookies are a bit brittle and will break easily. I spent a good deal of time glueing them back in place with white chocolate. 

Also, the recipe calls for decorating the top of the pie with wheels of candied lemon slices, which look pretty, but present a problem when you're trying to cut the pie into slices. See below:


In my second version, I ringed the edge of the pie with bits of candied lemon peel and did one wheel in the center. Also, I decided to drizzle the outsides of the cookies with melted white chocolate in addition to glueing them to the crust with white chocolate, for more taste and decoration.

One final modification: I substituted my own favorite lemon curd recipe (doubled) for the one in the recipe, and it worked great. The result was light, highly citrusy yet sweet, and as a bonus for finishing your slice, you get a lemon-dipped shortbread cookie!

Give yourself a bit of time to put it all together. The crust, cookies, lemon curd can all be made in advance, and once it's assembled, the tart needs time in the fridge (or even the freezer) to set.

You'll be happy you did!

Lemon Custard Tart 
adapted from Saveur Magazine:

Ingredients:

For the Tart Shell and Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
8 tbsp. almond flour
1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 egg

For the Filling and Garnish
the peel of 1 lemon, thinly sliced, plus one "wheel" slice of lemon, seeds discarded
3 cups sugar, divided (1 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 cup)
1⁄4 cup grated lemon zest plus 1 1⁄2 cups juice
12 whole eggs
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled

Directions:

1.  Make the tart shell and cookie dough: Whisk flours and salt in a bowl; set aside. Using an electric hand mixer, beat sugar and butter in another bowl until fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add egg; mix to combine. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. Flatten dough into a disk; cover with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

2.  Heat oven to 325°.  Line the bottom of a 9" springform pan with greased parchment. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until 1⁄6" thick. Trim dough into a 15" circle. Press dough into bottom and 1 3⁄4" up the sides of the springform pan. The dough may break, but just press it into place. Trim and gather edges of dough, and set scraps aside. Place the dough-lined pan in the freezer for 15 minutes, then remove. Using a fork, prick the dough in the pan all over. Line dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake until golden and cooked through, about 1 hour, and let cool.

3. Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough scraps 1⁄6" thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out 20–25 cookies and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; bake until golden, 10–12 minutes. When cool, drizzle with 1 oz melted white chocolate, or more if desired.

4. Make the filling and garnish: Place sliced lemon in a 2-qt. saucepan filled with water; boil. Strain lemon; set aside. Add 1 1⁄2 cups sugar and 1⁄2 cup water to pan and bring to a simmer over medium; cook until sugar is dissolved and stir in lemon. Cook until lemon rind is softened and translucent, about 10 minutes; let candied lemon cool in syrup.

5. Whisk remaining sugar, the lemon zest, salt and eggs in a 4-qt. saucepan until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice; cook over medium, stirring constantly while adding bits of butter, over medium until all the butter has melted and the curd has thickened, 10–12 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
6. Transfer 1 1⁄2 cups curd to another bowl; set aside. Whip cream in a separate bowl into stiff peaks; fold cream into larger amount of curd and spread evenly into tart shell; chill until set, about 1 hour. Spread reserved lemon curd over lemon cream and top with candied lemon slices; chill 1 hour. Remove tart from pan and transfer to a cake stand or platter. 

7. Use remaining melted white chocolate to glue cookies to outer crust of tart.

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