Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A recipe for a perfect spring

I have always felt a little jipped with the fact that my birthday fell in February—the dessert options have always been less than satisfactory. I remember growing up wanting nothing more than an angel food cake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for my birthday cake and being horribly disappointed with the fact that I couldn’t have it—fresh strawberries not being in season in February. Instead I had to console myself with grab-bag cakes. Cakes made with things from the pantry and/or freezer--things like chocolate or frozen berries. It shouldn’t be surprising that I could never decide on “the one” birthday dessert that I wanted repeated year after year.

Mr. F.’s birthday was this past weekend, and he requested something fruity and light. Luckily for him, those are feasible options when your birthday is at the end of May. (Can you tell that I am not at all bitter?) He chose this recipe, which to me epitomizes a perfect spring day: warm sunshine and fluffy white clouds. It is everything wrapped up into one divine little tart: sweet, tart, fluffy, and nutty. We topped it off with sun-kissed strawberries picked the day before.

Lemon Cloud Tart

Lemon curd filling
4 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup sugar

Hazelnut crust
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon (packed) finely grated lemon peel
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Lemon crème fraîche
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup crème fraîche*(see below if not available to you at the store)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

For filling:
Whisk yolks and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Combine lemon juice, butter, and 1/2 cup sugar in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; whisk until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk 1/3 of hot butter mixture into eggs, then whisk mixture back into bowl with remaining butter mixture set over simmering water. Whisk constantly until custard thickens and thermometer inserted into mixture registers 180°F, about 5 minutes (do not boil). Pour lemon curd through strainer set over medium bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of lemon curd; chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For crust:
Finely grind hazelnuts in processor. Using electric mixer, beat butter, powdered sugar, and lemon peel in medium bowl until well blended. Add yolk and beat until smooth. Beat in hazelnuts, then flour, and salt. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll dough out on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; press crust onto bottom and up sides of pan; trim excess dough overhang. Chill 20 minutes. Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, pressing with fork if c rust bubbles, about 25 minutes. Cool crust in pan on rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.)

For lemon crème fraîche:
Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream, crème fraîche, 3 tablespoons sugar, and lemon peel in large bowl until stiff peaks form.
Spoon half of lemon curd and half of lemon crème fraîche into another large bowl. Using small rubber spatula, gently fold curd and lemon crème fraîche together, creating marble effect and being careful not to overmix to retain marbling. Spoon marbled mixture in dollops into cooled crust. Using tip of knife or small rubber spatula, swirl and pull mixture upwards in peaks. Repeat with remaining curd and crème fraîche mixture. Refrigerate tart at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

*Our stores are not fancy enough to carry crème fraîche, so I made it from scratch. Luckily, it is super easy although it does take some forethought.

Creme fraîche

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of buttermilk

Combine, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours, or until thickened. Stir well and refrigerate.


Washington Hills said...

Okay, I WOULD check this blog and look at these pictures on a fast sunday! Ugh! looks delicious.

Lady Susan said...

I know. Perhaps I should have a warning put up before such posts. ;)


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