Saturday, May 20, 2006
Felt like doing a dessert after blogging so many healthy things. I make tarts a lot but have most often bought the shells premade, much to the derision of my sister who is the pastry queen of the family. They are much more frugal, though work intensive, to make on your own so I attempted tart shells using a butter pastry dough baked in muffin tins. The results were edible but not worth blogging; pictured are tarts made with mini shells.
The lime curd filling, on the other hand, is a great standby. There is far too much bad lemon and 'key' lime pie in the world, with soggy or tough crust and pasty textured, chemical tasting fillings. It is very easy and inexpensive to make your own curd (especially with limes at five for a dollar locally at H&W Produce). With this recipe I prefer making individual tarts or mini tarts because even in small amounts it packs a lot of sweetness, tang, and richness. You need enough limes to make between 1/3 and 1/2 cup of lime juice, 1/2 cup sugar, 4 egg yolks, and 1/4 cup plus 1 tbs of butter. Zest the limes (finely chop zest if you didn't use a grater) and dissolve the sugar in their juice; then add the egg yolks and butter and bring to a gentle bubble over medium heat until mixture thickens. I usually do this in the microwave. Cool slightly, then stir in reserved lime zest, saving some for the meringue if desired. Do not be like me, the second or third time I made this, and decide to cook the lime zest in the curd at the same time. It turned black and I had to start over. The curd will seem too runny when warm but will firm up when it is chilled.
Once cold, spoon into precooked and cooled tart shells, your own or premade. This much curd goes a long way since you need about a teaspoon each for mini tarts. You can make ahead and keep for 3-4 days in the fridge or freeze it; I often do the make ahead option and cook the tart shells at the last minute since freshness makes an enormous difference in the flavour and texture of pastry. You can top with some soft fruit to finish. Once I topped the tarts with diced mango, and then since the combination looked a bit too pale, with a grind of grains of paradise. Regular pepper would have worked as well.
If you want to do a meringue, as shown, beat reserved egg whites at room temperature until they are foamy, then stir in 2 tbs sugar per egg white and continue beating until stiff. Stirring in some lime zest makes it prettier. Top tarts with meringue and brown very carefully under a low broiler.