Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: Dueling Tarts

This week Mary of Starting From Scratch chose The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart, which I will admit to having no interest in. I basically hate anything lemon. Fortunately, I am not alone in this matter and there was an alternative for us lemon haters: Fresh Orange Cream Tart. (See what everyone make here)

I started this undertaking with a fresh outlook. Tarts are new for me. I just bought my first tart pans (6 mini ones) from Williams-Sonoma a week or so ago, so I was excited to break them in.

After making this (no real issues except the cream didn't quite hit 180 degrees), I tried putting a tart together and seeing if it was amenable to slicing and serving. Not so much! I think I patted a little too hard forming the tarts. It still tasted fine, but they didn't come easily out of the tart pans and some spots were a little dense.

With tart failure on my hands, I was wondering WHAT on EARTH I was going to do with the rest of the orange cream. No way would my husband go near it (not much a sweet tooth, that one!) and there was no way I was eating it myself. I decided that cupcakes (my new favorite!) were in order - mostly because they would be easy to share with friends. As not to spoil the tradition of TWD, I'll leave you here with the Fresh Orange Cream Tart as it was meant to be (then go post about the cupcakes!).

Fresh Orange Cream Tart
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 oranges
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
Scant 3/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice or Valencia orange juice
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon cold water
2 3/4sticks (11 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, at cool room temperature
1 9-inch tart shell (round or square) made with Sweet Tart Dough (recipe follows) or Sweet Tart Dough with nuts, fully baked and cooled.
3 orange segments, for decoration
1/3 cup quince or apple jelly mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of water, for glazing

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.

Put the sugar and orange and lemon zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the orange and lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan, and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk—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 it gets closer to 180 degrees 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 or 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 it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest.

Soften the gelatin in the cold water, then dissolve it by heating it for 15 seconds in a microwave oven (or do this in a saucepan over extremely low heat). Add the gelatin to the filling and pulse once just to blend, then let the filling cool to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture, you must continue to blend 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 refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days and, or tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

When you are ready to assemble the tart, whisk the cream vigorously to loosen it. Spread the cream evenly in the crust. Arrange the orange segments in the center of the tart and prepare the glaze: bring the jelly and water to a boil. Use a pastry brush or pastry feather to lightly spread the jelly over the orange segments and cream. Serve now or refrigerate the tart until needed.

Serving: The tart should be served cold and needs nothing more than dark espresso or champagne.
Storing: While the Orange cream can be made ahead, the tart should be served on the day it is assembled.

Sweet Tart Dough

Makes enough for one 9-inch crust (Or, as I found, 6- 10 cm mini tart pans)

Storing: Well wrapped, the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer—it has a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

In French, this dough is called pâte sablée because it is buttery, tender and sandy (that's what sablée means). It's much like shortbread, and it's ideal for filling with fruit, custard or chocolate.
The simplest way to make a tart shell with this dough is to press it into the pan. You can roll out the dough, but the high proportion of butter to flour and the inclusion of confectioners' sugar makes it finicky to roll. I always press it into the pan, but if you want to roll it, I suggest you do so between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper or inside a rolling slipcover (see page 491 of the book).

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

~Put the flour, confectioners' 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, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don't be too heavy-handed—press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) 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. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

To fully bake the crust: Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. (I dislike lightly baked crusts, so I often keep the crust in the oven just a little longer. If you do that, just make sure to keep a close eye on the crust's progress—it can go from golden to way too dark in a flash.) Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

To patch a partially or fully baked crust, if necessary: If there are any cracks in the baked crust, patch them with some of the reserved raw dough as soon as you remove the foil. Slice off a thin piece of the dough, place it over the crack, moisten the edges and very gently smooth the edges into the baked crust. If the tart will not be baked again with its filling, bake for another 2 minutes or so, just to take the rawness off the patch.


  1. I love your creativity! those cupcakes sound and look divine!

  2. Awwww... I looked everywhere for mini tart pans and couldn't find any... I didn't even think about williams sonoma! Duh! Anyway, yours looks awesome!

  3. Your tarts look incredibly wonderfully delicious! Just perfect!

  4. your tarts look great. your cupcake sounds delicious!

  5. Your mini tart looks awesome! I'm sorry you didn't love it, but great job finding a good home for the orange cream :)

  6. Maybe your co-workers won't find out about all that butter ... They might think you're trying to give them heart attacks. ;)

  7. So sorry your crust didn't work out...what a pain. However, the cupcakes look DIVINE!! Way to go!

  8. So pretty! And cupcakes sound like a perfect place for this cream!

  9. I definitely need to get some mini-tart pans, they're just lovely! I ate my extra lemon cream on taost, it was delicious!

  10. i'm proud of you for making this even though you had no desire to! it looks yummy and the cupcake idea is great....my leftover cream is going in crepes for a special treat for my husband!

  11. Looks wonderful...and I love the cupcakes!

  12. Yummy tart! I wanna see the cupcakes! :)
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  13. Ooo excellent use of the extra orange cream! I just used my new little tart pans for the first time too. Sorry to hear you weren't really happy with these, though it looks good!

  14. So sorry you didn't love it, but the cupcakes are a wonderful idea!

  15. Great idea to do the cupcakes to use up the orange cream!

  16. ooo i love how your mini tart turned out! i bought the same ones from W-S last weekend but was too chicken to try them out on my first tart, so good for you! :)

  17. Sorry about your tart shells. Great idea on how to use all that left-over orange cream!