Most readers of my blog have figured out by now that I'm a chocoholic. So the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes of the past month were great, especially since my children love chocolate as much as I do. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, so I was happy to see more variety in the recipes for May. When the selections were announced, I knew immediately which one was likely to be my favorite. Besides chocolate, my other favorite flavor is lemon, the more the better.
When I cook with lemon, I invariably add more lemon juice than the recipe calls for, since a lot of the time the lemon flavor doesn't seem that strong. I don't play around as much when baking, since that can cause problems, so I try to start off with a recipe that seems like it will be very lemony. I'm sure we've all had that experience of seeing lemon bars on a plate at a potluck or bake sale and been bitterly disappointed to find that they taste more like sugar than lemon. I actually have a lemon bar recipe that I love--I've played around with the crust over time, but the filling is great. I'll have to share it soon.
When I make chocolate desserts, I don't usually have too much trouble getting people to help me eat them. But when I bring certain non-chocolate desserts, like oatmeal cookies and lemon bars, they seem to fly off the plate. When I was trying to come up with ideas for this post, I remembered something amusing from a time that I did take my favorite lemon bars to a potluck. It was very close to Halloween, so to be festive, I colored the filling orange. I lost track of how many people absolutely swore that the bars were orange flavored, not lemon, because of the color. I had a really hard time convincing them that they were in fact lemon. It's funny how our perceptions can color our reactions.
Now with this week's TWD recipe, there's no doubt that the flavor is lemon. Babette of Babette Feasts picked the Tartest Lemon Tart for us to make this week. It starts off with one of Dorie's shortbread tart crusts. The recipe calls for the one with nuts, but I chose to use the plain sweet tart dough. It was easy to mix together in the food processor, as always. For the filling, you puree together lemons, sugar, eggs, melted butter, cream, and a bit of cornstarch. Yes, the whole lemons, not just the juice or zest.
I had a bit of a hard time getting the lemons and sugar to puree together in my blender. It's rather old, and not the most powerful appliance to begin with. But eventually it started to come together. I added the rest of the ingredients, making one small change. I was lazy and didn't want to separate eggs (or figure out what to do with leftover egg white--my freezer is already full of them). So I just used 2 whole eggs instead of the 1 egg and 2 yolks called for in the recipe. Once everything was blended together, I decided to strain the mixture as I put it in the tart crust. I couldn't get it all the way smooth, and I'm one of those people who hates pulp in my lemonade or orange juice. =)
After my oven got fixed last week, I found that it seemed to be running hot. I bought an inexpensive oven thermometer, and according to that, my oven was running about 25 degrees high. Armed with that knowledge, I was able to adjust the dial accordingly so I didn't overbake the tart. I baked it at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes, and then for another 23 minutes at 350, at which point it seemed to be set but just a little jiggly in the center. It puffed up and developed the sugar crust that Dorie mentions, but did not bubble over at all. And as it cooled, the filling settled back down in the crust. I let it cool to room temperature overnight (I finished it about 10:30 Sunday night) and then put it in the fridge the next morning.
The verdict? Wow. I loved it. It's definitely a grown-up dessert. The texture is lovely, with a nice contrast between the sandy crust and smooth filling. Incredibly puckery, and a bit bitter. But I'm okay with that. I was trying to figure out what the flavor reminded me of, and finally figured it out. One of my favorite lemonade recipes is from Cooks Illustrated. You slice lemons, put them in a pitcher with some sugar, and muddle them together. Then you add lots of cold water and ice. It's fabulous, and since you use the whole lemon slices, it has that same slightly bitter edge. (For CI members, you can find the recipe here.) Jamie really liked the tart as well--he said the full impact of it sort of snuck up on him. =) I didn't give any to the girls, since I know Brianna doesn't like really tart things. Hmm, maybe I should let Gillian try it.
For the recipe, head on over to Babette's blog. And be sure to check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll for lots of other tart tarts.
p.s. I haven't forgotten about the giveaway winner. I hope to get that post done tonight, with pictures of my lovely assistants.