Sunday, May 10, 2009

Strawberry Lemon Tart

Strawberries. They're so red and pretty. I love when they are in season, namely because of my dad's Strawberry Shortcake, which I will save for another post. Other things strawberry are great too, milkshakes, jam, cake, the list goes on. My breakfast all week was blackberries and strawberries with cottage cheese and flax seeds. Anyways, I had my pseudo-grandparents over the other night for a nice dinner and decided to stick with a strawberry-ish theme. Most of the dishes are somewhat scatterbrained, but they all are so delicious I just couldn't resist. I made Chicken Marsala, Sauteed Asparagus, Strawberry Pecan Avocado Salad and Miso-glazed Salmon. For dessert I decided to try my hand at a Strawberry Tart with Lemon Curd. I went to the grocery store and then two and a half hours later I was finishing up the meal and my guests were at the table. It was chaos.
After my usual Tastespotting perusal I found Half Baked's recipe that seemed to be everything I was looking for. Sweet tart crust, tart lemon cream, and of course STRAWBERRIES!

Strawberry Lemon Curd Tart
9 inch tart pan

The Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk lightly beaten

1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Add yolk a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

2. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed – press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don't press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

4. To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.

5. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn't have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.
The Lemon Curd
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temp cut into 8 pieces

Choose a saucepan that will hold the bowl from your mixer (or a heat proof mixing bowl) in a double-boiler arrangement. Fill the pan with 2 to 3 inches of water and bring to a simmer.
Put the eggs and sugar in the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip at high speed until very light and fluffy. Still whisking, add the lemon juice and zest. Set the bowl in the saucepan, making sure the the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly by hand until smooth, thick , and custardlike. Be patient; this can take a while. Remove bowl from saucepan and whisk in butter piece by piece. Cover the curd with plastic wrap pressed to the top, and refrigerate until chilled and set, or pour directly into cooled crust and top with sliced strawberries.

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