Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lemon Blackberry Tarts

Easter lunch beckons along with unseasonal summer weather. We plan to eat al fresco, my favorite way to lunch. Warm sunshine induces me to grill part of the meal. As things go, we grill almost every component of lunch. We start with chilled white wine and a simple grilled zucchini and burrata salad. Roast lamb is the traditional meal, so we try a variation. This year we braise and grill lamb shanks, plated with a mint and pea pesto. Small grilled potatoes drizzled in truffle oil and grilled asparagus and snap peas in garlic add color and flavor. I did say we wanted to to grill!!! 

Chocolate presides in some form or the other. Today it make an appearance in a ganache laden brownie mocha cake. The chocoholics are happy. What about the fruit lovers? A lemon tart topped with a blackberry rolled in sugar sounds yum. Pate sucre or sweet shortcrust pastry is pressed into tart tins and baked blind. I make a fluffy lemon custard with eggs, lemon zest and juice, sugar and cream. The filling is spooned into tart shells and topped with blackberries. A visual delight and gastronomic pleasure.. Or vice versa!

Makes 12-15 small tarts

Pate Sucre or Shortcrust Pastry
2 1/2 cups all purpose Flour
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Crisco or vegetable Shortening 
5-7 tablespoons very cold Water

2 Eggs
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1/3 cup Lemon Juice 
1 tablespoon Butter
1/4 cup Cream or Creme Fraiche
12-15 Blackberries 
1 teaspoon Sugar

Make the pate sucre by placing flour, sugar and salt in food processor. Pulse a couple of times.

Cut butter and shortening into small chunks and add to flour. Pulse 10-12 times till flour  looks like small peas. 

Sprinkle cold water over flour and pulse again till starts to flour come together. 

Divide dough into two portions. Place each portion in a plastic bag. Gather the dough together in the plastic bag so that you form a cohesive disc. Pat to smooth the surfaces.  Close bags with ties. Place both discs in the fridge for 20 minutes. You will only need one disc for the tarts. The other disc can be frozen for up to a month. 

Heat oven to 350F.

Arrange 12-15 small tart pans on a baking sheet.

Break off a walnut sized piece of dough. Use your thumb to flatten the dough in the tart pan, going all the way to the upper edge.

Cut  12-15 4x4 squares of aluminum foil. Position one square over each tart. Press foil down slightly. Spoon 2 tablespoons of beans or pie weights in each tart. 

Bake tarts for 20 minutes.

Take tarts out of the oven and cool on a wire rack. Remove foil squares and discard. I keep the squares and beans in a plastic bag for repeat performances. 

Take baked tart shells out of the pans. Place on a tray or plate.

Make the filling by whisking the eggs in a saucepan.

Add lemon zest, juice and sugar to eggs. Place pan over low heat and stir till you have a thick sauce. Take pan off the heat and cool. Refrigerate sauce for an hour.

Whip cream till thick. It's really hard to whip such a small amount of cream. I used an immersion blender.  Or use creme fraiche. 

Fold cream to lemon sauce.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of lemon filling into each tart.

Roll blackberries in sugar. 

Place one blackberry in each tart. 

Put tarts in the fridge for 15 minutes before serving.

Lunch is a many splendored thing. We are treated to a summer prelude with blue skies and abundant sunshine. There is no better meal than one eaten outdoors on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Both desserts take us over the edge and into the arms of Morpheus, another dreamy Sunday routine.