Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lemon-Vanilla Tart

My favorite fruit for dessert is lemon. Lemon cake, lemon cookies, lemon meringue pie, lemon bars you get the idea. When I stumbled across this recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens magazine it instantly caught my eye. The candied lemon slices on top of this tart looked beautiful and after reading the instructions I was surprised that all the steps were pretty easy. I don’t normally make desserts likes this tart but the whole point of this blog is for me to try new things right? Right.

The tart itself was fantastic. Crispy flaky crust full of buttery goodness topped with a creamy filling flavored with heavy doses of lemon and vanilla. How can any of that be bad?

The downfall, sadly there is one, came with the candied lemon slices. Yes, they were easy to make. Yes, they were beautiful, golden yellow gems. Yes, they smelled heavenly as they cooked. BUT, they tasted terrible! Everyone has seen, heard or read the advice regarding the pith of citrus fruits. It is bitter. That is why when zesting the rind you only take the colored parts. Well there was no way to avoid the pith on these candied lemon slices, and unfortunately once I placed them on the tart, that bitterness leached into the top layer of the filling. Next time, yes there will be a next time, I will top the tart with powdered sugar and forget about the candied lemon slices. This time around though, I just scrapped the top little bit off and enjoyed a slice of lemon tart...afterI threw away the candied lemon slices.

Lemon-Vanilla Tart
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens by A Cook's Quest
Tart pastry
½ c cold butter
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
Dash of salt
1 eggs yolk
1 T ice water

2 lemons
½ c sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
2 eggs
¼ c melted butter
1 ½ T real vanilla

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter, until the pieces are the size of small peas. Mix together the egg yolk and water. Add to flour mixture. Add 2 to 4 T more water, 1 T at a time until all the dough is moistened. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to an 11-inch circle. Wrap the pastry around a rolling pin. Ease the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the edges even with the pan. Line the pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake 5 to 6 minutes more or until crust is gold. Cool on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 350.

Finely shred 4 teaspoons of peel from the lemons. Set aside. Squeeze enough juice from lemons to measure 6 T; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine sugar and flour. Add eggs and beat with and electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture is light in color and slightly thick. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice, butter and vanilla. Pour into the pastry shell. Place tart pan on a cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until filling is set and lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Top with candied lemon slices or powdered sugar if desired.

Candied Lemon Slices
Line a cookie sheet that has sides with parchment paper. Cut 2 small lemons crosswise into 1/8-¼ inch thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on pan. Sprinkle lemon slices with ¼ cup sugar. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven 45-50 minutes or until lemons are almost dry and covered with a sugary glaze. While still warm loosen from parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Total Cost- Inexpensive probably less than $3.00
If you have butter, sugar and eggs on hand this recipe is very inexpensive. The lemons cost me .25 each so $1.00 total there. The butter was about .50 and I'm going to guess the rest at around $1.00-1.50.
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