Sunday, September 04, 2005

White Chocolate Creme Citron Tarts

For a family lunch today, I decided to really blow out on dessert. For the platter of sweet miniatures, I made downsized portions of Espresso Orange Panna Cotta Parfaits with Coffee Gelee from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course, Triple Chocolate Mousses from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet, and White Chocolate Creme Citron Tarts from Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate. I've learnt from making the layered panna cotta previously that in order for the balance to work, the intense coffee gelee layer should be relatively thin so it doesn't overwhelm the creamily delicate flavours atop (orange panna cotta) and beneath (espresso panna cotta). As for the Triple Chocolate Mousses, Keiko of the breathtakingly beautiful Nordljus has recently posted the recipe, alongside the requisite exquisite picture.

The little tarts, based on a recipe I've been meaning to try, combine white chocolate with lemon curd, two of my favourite foods - even on paper, I figured, how could it taste anything but divine? A classic lemon curd is enriched by the addition of white chocolate, which partially replaces the quantity of butter. I've added the additional step of flavouring the sugar with lemon zest before whisking it with the egg yolks - it's something I like doing when making citrus curd, finding that it heightens the flavour. To eliminate the possibility of lemony scrambled eggs, I cook the mixture in an improvised bain marie instead of over direct heat. After the curd is mixed with the white chocolate (but before the butter goes in), I also push the mixture through a chinois to ensure smoothness. And instead of the sugar tart crust called for, I've adapted the author's chocolate wafer tart crust, a cookie-like dough with a real depth of chocolate flavour. I've essentially halved her recipe; this still makes enough dough for a dozen tarts - you could either double the filling recipe below, or freeze the extra pastry-lined tart pans, carefully wrapped to protect against frostbite, for some future project.

White Chocolate Creme Citron Tarts
(Adapted from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow)

1/2 cup caster sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces white chocolate, very finely chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, softened at room temperature
6 Chocolate Wafer 3-inch tart shells, blind-baked and cooled (recipe follows)

Blitz the sugar and lemon zest together in a processor or blender until the sugar is pale yellow and fragrant; the heat helps release the aromatic essential oils into the sugar. Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a medium heat-proof bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice and whisk again. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until it thickens (the consistency should be like that of sour cream), but do not let the mixture come to the boil. Immediately take the bowl off the pan, add the white chocolate, and stir until completely smooth. Push the mixture through a chinois or other fine-meshed sieve into a mixing bowl, preferably one that's spouted. Now add the butter, which should be very malleable but still cool, a few cubes at a time, stirring each addition until completely incorporated before adding the next. The final texture should resemble that of mayonnaise.

Carefully pour filling into the baked tart shells and chill to set, about 4 hours. The filled tarts can be made up to 2 days in advance, stored in the fridge. Bring back to room temperature by taking them out 1 hour before serving. If you wish, garnish with dark chocolate shavings or lemon zest.

Serves 6

Chocolate Wafer Tart Shells
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp plain all-purpose flour

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the cocoa and salt, mixing on low speed till well combined, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, blending thoroughly, again scraping sides of bowl. Add flour on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overwork. Divide dough into two equal portions, pat into fat discs, wrap in clingfilm, and let rest in fridge, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Use 1 disc of dough for 6 tart shells. On a board dusted with a mixture of half cocoa and half flour (this terrific tip from Fran Bigelow helps keep the dark crust, well, dark), and using a similarly dusted rolling pin, begin rolling from the centre out, lifting and turning constantly, until the dough is a uniform 1/8 inch thickness, keeping the board and pin dusted as necessary to prevent sticking. If the dough becomes unmanageable at any point, stick the whole set-up (board and all) into the fridge for about 15 minutes or so before picking up where you left off. Do this as often as is necessary - a cold spell cures most evils. Once rolled out, dust off excess flour with a pastry brush, and stamp out circles using a round cookie cutter before pressing into the lightly buttered 3-inch tart pans, making sure the pastry is an even thickness throughout bottom and sides. Trim excess dough along edges with a sharp knife. Chill lined tart pans for at least 2 hours, or until very firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Blind-bake using rounds of baking parchment weighted with rice, beans, or pastry weights for 15 minutes. Gingerly remove parchment and weights. Continue baking another 3 to 5 minutes, until tart shell bottoms are set and dry to the touch. As it's hard to tell when this pastry is done given its colour to begin with, it's best to keep a watchful eye.


Blogger Ana said...

J, so tempting dessert. I also like that you posted the recipe. Sometimes, the hardest part on your posts is that you get us drooling and then there's no recipe!!!!

7:58 am, September 04, 2005  
Blogger Ruth Daniels said...

J, what beautiful looking tarts. I love the yellow against the dark brown.

Until all this blogging started, I wasn't really much of a dessert eater. Thanks to you, that's changed. Now I'll have to invest in some of the gorgeous looking books you mentioned.

10:26 am, September 04, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Beautiful, of course, J. I think it was a great idea to use the chocolate tart shells with the white chocolate/lemon filling. Great contrast.

10:56 am, September 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your impeccable creations and stunning photography leaves me breathless everytime. What a great idea to soften the citrus tartness with white chocolate.

3:34 pm, September 04, 2005  
Blogger Michèle said...

Hi J, what beautiful creations! If only my family lunches could be so delicious.. Very impressive :)

9:55 pm, September 04, 2005  
Blogger boo_licious said...

J, you have a lucky family as they get to sample such wonderful treats all the time.

10:46 pm, September 04, 2005  
Blogger bornappleT said...

I am just wondering, beside time and lots of effort, do you spend a significant amount of money on your ingredients and especially your decorating accessories?

10:51 pm, September 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joycelyn - such a gorgeous picture and lovely recipe! I don't think I've tried the combination of lemon and white chocolate, it must be wonderful. I'm not a big fan of tarts, so I might try it with a different base, what do you think? I hope you enjoyed making the caramel spikes, I must say I was a bit too impatient for doing it... Thank you the beautiful post.

12:51 am, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A wonderful post, as usual! I always visit your blog ready to be impressed and I always am :-) Those little tarts sound delicious!

1:52 am, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The White Chocolate Creme Citron Tarts sound does everything else! A impressive post as always :-)

1:53 am, September 05, 2005  
Blogger Unknown said...

dear J, the next time we have a floggers lunch, you will definitely be required to contribute some form of dessert... each of the above sound absolutely divine...

6:33 pm, September 05, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i absolutely adore the combination of white chocolate and lemon - they're the perfect complement to each other, creamy and sweet, piquant and fresh. i can only imagine that a dark chocolate crust heightens the ecstasy! your photo for this is exquisite, is it my imagination or do you have a new camera?

by the way, i never knew where your blog's name came from, but this weekend i ran across a description of the term in jeffrey steingarten's 'the man who ate everything. very enlightening!

1:09 am, September 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'ld like to tell you that you should start doing this for a living, it would not be the same if you could not do it at this leisurely pace, full of passion and grace.

If you're looking for an apprentice in the art of living and cooking, let me know! I'll be the first in line to apply! :D

8:00 am, September 06, 2005  
Blogger Babe_KL said...

so divine!

10:37 am, September 06, 2005  
Blogger eat stuff said...


I have been wanting to try and make a chocolate curd!, I had no idea that there was a recipe, I just knew it would be good! YAY! know I don't have to try and make it up myself :)

Love your work J :)

1:19 pm, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have been visiting all the wonderful foodblogs..started with CH first and now discovering all the others. It's amazing how you all make such beautiful food.
Don't know if you have read this....P.H-Ispahan, his top selling cake, developed for Spring-Summer 1997, is an inspired combination of rose petal cream, fresh raspberries and litchi nuts neatly cushioned between two rose flavored macaroons.

10:24 pm, September 08, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello - regarding the cake with rose flavoured macaroon..? Whose creation was it anyway? What is Ispahan?
Thank you if you coudl clarify

4:27 pm, September 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello - regarding the cake with rose flavoured macaroon..? Whose creation was it anyway? What is Ispahan?
Thank you if you coudl clarify

4:27 pm, September 09, 2005  
Blogger Joycelyn said...

hi clement, thanks for your kind words; i have only come round to the idea of fusing fruity/acidic flavours with chocolate as of late, and am a total convert...

hi soycap, thanks :)

hi ana, oops! i am awfully slack about posting recipes...will try my best to post recipes more often...

hi ruth, thanks...the books i mentioned are some of my all-time faves...

hi nic, the chocolate crust definitely adds depth of flavour...

hi chubbycat, i must say i was surprised at how compatible the two flavours are

hi michele, thanks for your kind words...i have seen your meals, and they certainly look spectacular to me!

hi boolicious, glad you think they look delicious!

hi keiko, thanks, you are always so kind...funny you should mention - as i was making the curd, i thought to myself that it would probably work rather well as a cake or cookie filling, or even rippled through ice cream

hi jo, thanks...glad you enjoyed the post

hi joey, thanks for dropping by, and your kind praise...

hi cath, it would be my pleasure...

hi melissa, thanks! what powers of observation you possess - bingo on both counts; just got a new camera, and yes, my motto in life roughly translates into too much is not enough ;)

hi carol, thanks. much appreciate your encouragement...

hi babekl, thanks :)

hi skrat, thanks you are very kind...if i can help it, i spend most of my time pottering in the kitchen

hi pc, thanks :)

hi clare, thanks...have fun making the curd!

hi amy, i must say i was pretty happy with the way fran bigelow's chocolate crust recipe turned out...

hi anon, ispahan is pierre herme's delicious creation. it is also named after a particular rose called the ispahan. the macaroon confection features rose, lychee and raspberry.

9:33 pm, September 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's how to make delicious chocolate covered strawberries. First of all ensure that the strawberries you are intending to use are dry, then allow them to be room temperature warm prior to making them. After the strawberries have been covered in chocolate, put them in your refrigerator to cool, but do not store them in the fridge. Consume within 1-2 days.

4:11 am, March 11, 2007  

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