Thursday, December 22, 2011

Creamy Citrus Strawberry Tart

Hello are just about here.

There are only 3 closed doors left on my chocolate calender. That means there are only 3 chocolates left to eat until you are right here. In my face. Big green trees, sparkling lights, shiny bulbs, jingle bells, big red suits and ho, ho, ho's.... It's all coming so soon and all I can think about is how I wish there were more chocolates on my calender.

I can't believe you showed up so fast. And you brought your friend "New Year" too. Some like to call him "2012", but we're not really on a digit-name basis yet. I need a few more weeks to warm up to him.

How did you do it? You must have been training hard through 2011 because you arrived in record timing. It's ok to take a break though....I mean, take a pitt stop and grab some lunch. I could suggest a poppy seed bagel with some dill cream cheese and fresh tomato. I bet you'd like that. Just don't be in such a rush. Sheesh.

...I think 2012 is going to be a great year and that's why it could hardly wait to get here. Even the numbers are perfectly aligned....after the first "2", you have 0, 1, 2. It just means that everything's going to work out. Maybe it means the year will start off with a bang....and then lag a little before it builds up again with a "SHABAM!".

Or...maybe it's just a number. Totally meaningless.

Whatever the year will bring, I know it will definitely involve dessert. So lets get talking about this tart. No not you....the one with strawberries in it.

Do something a little different this year. Surprise everyone with something a little lighter, fancy, fresh and super tangy. Although citrus may feel like a summer fruit, it's totally a winter baby. Lemons and oranges are great right now so squeeze the heck out of them and make some curd.

First you make and pre-bake some lemon-scented pastry. Then you make a sort of custard-curd filling by infusing hot cream with lemon and orange zests. Then you pour this hot cream into a mixture of eggs, lemon juice, orange juice and sugar to temper it. Tempering is way to gradually bring up the temperature of the eggs without curdling the proteins. Citrus, citrus, CITRUS is what we have going on here.

Pour the creamy citrusy filling into the pre-baked crust and bake it again in a gentle oven until it is mostly set but still giggles very slightly in the middle like Santa's big fat belly.

The fact that there's red and green all over these photos is totally a coincidence.

Christmas wouldn't be complete for me without great food. But, but, BUT, it also would not be complete unless I've listened to the song "Under My Tree" from N*Sync's first Christmas album at least 7 times. Have you heard that song? Hilarious. Sounds to me like there's definitely more than just presents under those guys' trees. Creepy, but funny. But way more creepy...

Creamy Citrus Strawberry Tart
Makes 10 servings

For the tart pastry:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp very cold butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:
1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
½ tsp each finely grated lemon and orange zest
½ cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
6 hulled strawberries
2 oz white chocolate, melted

To make the pastry, whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and citrus zests and toss to coat in flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or your clean fingers, cut or rub butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. The butter should be mostly dispersed with some larger, pea-sized pieces remaining. Whisk egg yolk well with water in a small bowl and drizzle into flour mixture while gently stirring with a fork. Continue to stir until dry ingredients are moistened and it holds together in clumps. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and it bring together in a ball with your hands, turning it frequently and pressing in loose bits until it is cohesive. Shape dough into a disk, wrap well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to an 11 to 12-inch round with just over 1/8-inch thickness. Carefully fit dough to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Refrigerate until firm.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prick pastry all over with a fork and bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Reduce temperature to 325°F.

To make the filling, combine cream and citrus zests in a small saucepot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from heat. Cover pot and let steep about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, salt and flour until blended. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Whisk in lemon and orange juice just until blended, no more than 10 strokes. Pour cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into the egg mixture. Stir it in using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.

Pour filling into slightly cooled tart shell and bake until the filling is set around the edges but still jiggles slightly in the middle, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cut strawberries in half. Slice each one almost all the way through 2 or 3 times, leaving them connected at the top. Fan out the slices and lay them flat on the tart. Drizzle with white chocolate.
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