9.01.2012

Lemon-y Goodness

If you know me at all, you know that I love chocolate. I start each day with a big bowl of hot cocoa, using intense Italian Pernigotti cocoa. (How many people - and I mean normal people - do you know who buy their cocoa by the kilo?)

I also am a fan of chocolate bars, dipped chocolates, Belgian chocolates, Swiss chocolates, French chocolates... I like both dark and milk chocolates.

I even like Hershey Kisses! I grew up near Hershey, Pennsylvania where the street signs looked like Hershey bars. I would go there for my birthday treat, take the tour of the factory and then come home with a bag of kisses. What kid wouldn't love that?

But, when it comes to my birthday cake or a special dessert treat, I run right to lemon. Some of my favorites lemon-y desserts include almond cake filled with lemon curd, lemon chess pie (who among you has never had a lemon chess pie?), lemon macarons (the French variety), lemon squares, lemon mousse... well, you get the idea. No chocolate.

Please don't get me wrong - I do like chocolate desserts but I somehow find lemon much more interesting after a meal. Is it the light flavor? The refreshing quality of the citrus? I don't know.

Last week I promised a lemon-blueberry tart with a lavender shortbread crust and I decided to try out the recipe this week and get it to you sooner than later.

The lavender shortbread crust came out beautifully - the herbal and floral qualities of the lavender was just right in contrast to the tangy citrus filling studded with its sweet berries. I am pretty happy with this dessert, and I think you will be, as well. (Next week I will be guest-blogging at The Littlest Anchovy for my friend Anna in Sydney, while she is here in the States for a wedding! You will get a notice from me with a link - hope you will visit us both on her blog!)

Pucker up for this tart tart!

~ David

Lemon Blueberry Tart with Lavender Shortbread Crust

Crust
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons culinary lavender buds
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
pinch salt
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
2 tablespoons ice water

Filling
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
1 cup blueberries, washed and picked over

Make the pastry crust. Place the three tablespoons sugar and the lavender buds in a spice grinder and pulverize until the lavender bugs resemble the sugar crystals. (If you don’t like the lavender flavor in your crust, you can skip this section and just use the 3 tablespoons sugar.)

Put the sugar-lavender mix, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse together three times.

Add butter in 16 pieces and pulse 12 times, or until pieces of butter are about the size of peas. Sprinkle with water and pulse 20-30 times, or until dough almost comes together in a ball around the blade. (See photo at the beginning of the post to gauge what texture you are looking for.) Gather dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out dough into an 11-inch round and then place in a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Fold excess dough down to give crust a thicker wall. Trim and discard scraps. Prick bottom all over with a fork, line with foil and then fill foil with pie weights, beans or rice.

Bake crust for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F, remove foil and weights, and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

Make the filling. Set a pan of water to boil over medium-high heat. Choose a metal bowl that is slightly larger in diameter than the pan of water. Place the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl and whisk well for 1 minute.

Place the bowl with the egg-sugar mixture over the boiling water and reduce heat to keep it to a constant simmer. Continue to whisk the mixture constantly for 2-3 minutes, until it has turned pale and foamy, and has thickened a bit.

Add a third of the lemon juice and continue whisking until thickened (about 2-3 minutes). Add another third of the juice and continue whisking until it has once again thickened (2-3 minutes), then the final amount of juice whisking for a final 2 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and keep custard mixture over the hot water. Add a tablespoon of butter and whisk it into the lemon mixture. When it has been fully incorporated, add another tablespoon. Continue whisking in the butter in this manner until it is all incorporated.

Add blueberries to the tart crust, then top with lemon custard, making sure each berry has been covered, even if only a little.

Using a kitchen blowtorch, carefully brûlée the top of the tart to caramelized lightly. Alternatively, you can put it under the broiler with a watchful eye to the same effect. Chill until set, then remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

16 comments:

  1. Let´s address one issue at a time: a)I buy chocolate by the kilo and different kind at the same time b)I never had lemon chess pie (I know!) c)lemon tarts and bars should pucker!
    That said, blueberries´ BFF is lemon and I trust you on the lavender. Wonderful tart! It´s a good thing you choose lemon because I made you a chocolate birthday cake! Happy belated birthday David!

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  2. Thanks, Paula! Wish you could Fed-Ex a piece of that cake right now! :) I agree that blueberries are lemons BFF. Great combination. Lime, too. A key lime pie with blueberries is amazing...

    I am so glad I am not alone in my kilo purchases of chocolate. I have a new variety form Peru en route to me now...

    Happy weekend!

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  3. kilos from Peru...no red flag at customs there. Seriously where do I buy lavender buds here in Tucson.

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  4. Jill - perhaps you have a friend who might be persuaded to share his lavender buds with you?

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  5. Thanks, Karin... if I am going to get older, I decided I want lemon AND chocolate. Why limit myself?

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  6. There is nothing better than lemon and blueberries whether you are at 8500 feet amongst the pines or at on the desert floor among saguaros.

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  7. Laura - isn't that the truth? I wish we could get the wild Maine blueberries (or Vermont...) here in the Southwest!

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  8. David, you pictured the scene of my most vivid childhood memory! That street corner was my vision of paradise. Thanks for reminding me. And Happy Birthday. Ann

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  9. Thanks, Ann - are you from around there, too? If I knew that I had forgotten.. It is a magical place.

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  10. Happy Birthday! This flavour combination is going to get a workout in my kitchen this Spring.
    So excited that you are guest posting on my blog next week!!
    You all (y'all?!) will just love what he has made!

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  11. Haha! Considering where you are going, "y'all" is perfectly appropriate! And when I chose the post for next week on The Littlest Anchovy, I had NO idea you would be in the U.S. South! What a perfect accident! He a great trip and see you on 4 weeks!

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  12. First of all, Happy Birthday! I think I have leanings to lemons more than chocolate so this pie looks to be right up my alley. I don't mind chocolate now and then but it's never a must have. I am curious about the lemon chess pie you mentioned. I've never heard of it!

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  13. Thanks, John! Glad to know I am not the only lemon fanatic out there. I have had a good number of responses about the lemon chess pie, so I will be posting on that soon.

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  14. Anxious to try out this one, TOO! Looking forward to your post on Little Anchovy as well. Hope you share the hazelnut cake in the future. Looking forward to making the big-bowl-o'-hot-cocoa, Pernigotti style, a new habit! Again, love the photographs : )

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  15. Thanks, Linda! I will plan on posting the hazelnut-pear cake (I am assuming that is the one you mean) in the fall. Ah, the Pernigotti habit... what can I say?

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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