Tuesday, February 2, 2010

End of Meyers - Beginning of Spring?

Well sadly, as I am zesting my last Meyer and juicing my last blood orange, I feel the need to post one more entry about this amazing piece of fruit that entices my five senses like no other fruit does. OK, maybe that's a bit dramatic considering that I love all fruit, but I think the reason why Meyers hold such a dear spot in my heart is that they have this uncanny way of just brightening my day. Whether I'm squeezing the juice into my daily glasses of water or whipping up a jar of curd, it let's me know that Spring is just around the corner and soon the cold, gray, and bleak Winter will turn sunny and bright and full of new life.

I made a jar of lemon curd, thanks to one of my many favorite bloggers. She shows how incredibly easy it is. What I was not prepared for was how hard it would be to keep wanting to put a spoon in the jar and devour it. Trying to remind myself that I need to taste and not obsess over these recipes has forced me to think of another way to use this creamy dessert. I volunteer in my daughter's middle school office every Tuesday and though I know the staff there tries hard to remember my name, for some reason, the "Tuesday Baker Lady" has become my official name. Don't get me wrong, I am not offended by that at all, and find it very complimentary. I digressed a bit (sorry) so now back to that luscious lemon curd... I decided to make tartlets to take into the office this past Tuesday. I had some mini French tartlet molds I had purchased from a tag sale many years ago and they got to come out of hiding and be the star in this recipe. I made an easy pastry dough. Then I combined the lemon curd I made with a half of container of left-over (this is where you must try hard not to cringe) fat-free Cool Whip. I know, what in the world was she thinking not using real whipping cream! Trust me, it was left over from another fat-free recipe and so I used it up. Believe it or not, it proved to be a very light lemony mousse-like filling. The added little sprigs of mint I picked from my backyard were the perfect garnish to enhance these little tarts.

So while I may not have anymore lemons on my tree, I do have a fridge full of juice! And while Winter is still showing it's nasty weather outside, I love that I can defrost a cube of sunshine inside and perhaps give a new meaning to bitter-sweet endings - I'm jus' sayin'!

Meyer Tartlets

Sweet Pastry Crust

1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten

In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside. Place the butter in your mixer and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don't overwork or pastry will be hard when baked.

Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.

Have ready an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom. (Or 12 mini tart shells) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into an 11 - 12 inch (28 - 30 cm) circle that is about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.

When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. With a thumb up movement, again press dough into pan. Roll rolling pin over top again to get rid of any extra pastry. Prick bottom of dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten in the flour.

Take 1 cup of Lemon Curd
1 1/2 Cups of non dairy whipped topping
Mix together until light and mousse like.
Place in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip and refrigerate while tart shells are cooling.

When shells and filling have properly chilled, then pipe each tart with filling. ** If you are making these in advance and you do not want the filling to create a soggy mess I suggest that you melt some white chocolate and lightly paint a coating in the pie shell and then chill until hard and then pipe your filling in. This will create a barrier so no moisture will make crust soggy.

Garnish tart with fresh mint sprigs or very thin slices of Meyer Lemons