Archive for July 10th, 2010

July 10, 2010

Strawberry Lemon Tarts!

Okay whats with all the citrus right? Lemon bars, key lime cupcakes, and now lemon tarts?

Sorry, it’s summer!! Also, aren’t these just to die for? I was pretty thrilled about how adorable they came out. They were pretty runny though… this was my first stab at lemon curd and I think it needed to thicken up a lot more before I took it off the heat. But it was so good. Lick-the-whole-bowl-and-every-single-spoon-and-even-the-whisk good.

A few funny anecdotes on this particular baking adventure: First, I put the tart shells in the oven with no timer and just forgot they were in there. Somehow I salvaged them before they were burned to a crisp, but they a bit crunchier than I would have liked. Oops! Also, the first time around on the strawberry coulis, I added 1/8 CUP cornstarch instead of 1/8 TEASPOON. My coulis literally tasted like cornstarch. So I had to do that over. I also had a liiiitle spillage since I wasn’t using nice fluted mini tart pans, but just my regular old cupcake tins.

Strawberry Lemon Tarts
Adapted from Chocolate Fool

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics 2) – makes about 12 mini tarts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp superfine caster sugar (I put regular sugar in a nut blender for a few seconds)
  • 5 oz cold butter, chopped
  • 2 -3  tbsp iced water
  1. Pulse together the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until mixture looks like fine bread crumbs.
  2. While motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough, and process until just combined.
  3. Knead dough lightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F.
  5. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out circles to fit the tart tin(s) and press down, making sure to make them look pretty =)
  6. Place parchment paper over the crust, and fill with baking weights/uncooked rice/dried beans and bake blind for 10 minutes. Remove the weights, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pastry is golden. (I placed cupcake liners on TOP of my crusts and fill them with old lentils)

Strawberry Coulis

  • 1 cup strawberries, cut up in small pieces ( make sure to reserve some slices for decorations!)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cornstarch for thickening
  1. Melt butter and sugar in a pot until syrupy, but not browned.
  2. Add in strawberries and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Using an immersion blender, give the berries a good whirl until smooth.
  4. Dissolve cornstarch in some cold water, and mix it in with the strawberry sauce. Return to heat and cook until it starts to thicken.
  5. Pour into bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready for assembly.

Lemon Curd (adapted from Sophistimom)

  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • juice of 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • pinch of salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together zest, butter, and sugar.
  2. Incorporate eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
  3. Add in lemon juice and salt.  Mixture will be curdled.
  4. Pour mixture into a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes.  Lemon curd will come together and thicken.
  5. When it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat.  Strain into a glass bowl and allow to cool.  Refrigerate or freeze until you need it.

Final Assembly

  1. Spoon  a teaspoon-full of strawberry coulis into bottom of each tart shell. Top with a tablespoon of lemon curd.
  2. Top each tart with a slice of the reserved strawberries and your chocolate decorations. Let refrigerate for another hour so that curd will set.
July 10, 2010

A day for Key Lime Cupcakes

That day was Wednesday, July 7th.  I came across the recipe as I perused my Google Reader full of amazing food blogs, and couldn’t get them off of my mind all day. I even went so far as to write about them in my facebook status. Yup, I went there.

There is something about that tart lime flavor that is so appealing on a hot sticky summer day. And there is something about cupcakes that is just appealing…well…all the time.

As for the actual recipe, I really wished the cupcake had a tarter flavor. The whole ensemble was missing a little zing, and I think maybe I skimped on the lime zest and juice. The frosting was absolutely amazing though! I took the little lime garnish and squeezed it onto the inside of my cupcake and it was a PERFECT mixture of sweet and sour. I would suggest being careful to add the full amount of flavoring to these and don’t be afraid to toss in some extra!!

And come on. They LOOK like summer.

Key Lime Cupcakes
adapted from Three Many Cooks

Makes 1 dozen

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) softened butter, divided
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest, divided, and 1 tablespoon lime juice (OR MORE!!!)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or whisk 11/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt into 1 1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup condensed milk
1/ 2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake papers. Beat butter, sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons lime zest until light and fluffy. Starting and ending with an egg, alternate beating in eggs and flour until each is thoroughly incorporated. Beat in lime juice and vanilla until just incorporated. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from oven, let cupcakes stand a couple of minutes; turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, beat remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons zest, and the cream cheese until smooth; beat in condensed milk and sugar. Frost and serve.

Garnish cupcakes, if you like, with graham cracker crumbs. If using graham crackers, you’ll only need about 1 whole cracker. Also a little wedge of lime for show doesn’t hurt.