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Monday, February 17, 2014

 Lemon Blackberry Curd Tartlettes

Every year about this time means that I reap an enormous windfall of fresh lemons, and I am soooo grateful to receive these beautiful blessings! Thank you Joyce! 

There's a small variety involved with these oranically grown beauties, some are small and round, some more pointedly oblong and medium size, and then there are my favorites; gorgeous monster sized Meyers. These Meyers are absolutely massive, and each has the potential of giving at least 1/2 cup of juice. At least!

I always make lemon curd. My son and my husband love these tarts.

I used to bake them with a regular sweet pie crust called "pâte sucrée", which is very good filled with any sweet pie filling.

When faced with having to re-format my favorite recipes, I also examined the new ways to shorten theses processes. Not shortcuts, per se, but making the whole process itself as time efficient as possible.

I wanted these little tartletts to be just the right sized morsel to serve to guests, at a buffet, a dessert platter passed around the table, or a quick reach-in-the-fridge grab and go snack-et. So I wanted the pastry crust to be a bit more substantial; able to hold up and not go soggy. So instead of a sweet pie crust, I decided to go with my GF Shortbread Cookie recipe and form the crust into little cookie tart-crusts. They are easy to make, buttery, flaky, semi-sweet, and hold up fabulously. And, they taste very, very indulgent! It's the same crust that I use for the Blackberry Shortbread Bars, and the Golden Coconut-Lemon Bars. Of course the recipe is wonderful to bake alone for just Shortbread Cookies, which always hit the spot when you need a bit of simple indulgence.

Try these, they'll become a favorite in your household. I've got to run now and hand a lot of these out to family and friends, God help us if I left them all at home, we'd eat 'em!

Lemon Blackberry Curd Tartlettes


Buttery Crust:
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 cup butter plus 2 Tablespoons, room temp but still cool, you don't want it "melty"
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Lemon Curd:

1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 of the grocery store size)
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks (freeze the whites for another use)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled


Pre-heat oven to 325°F. 
You will also need: 
                     a 24 cup mini muffin tin
                     non-stick spray

                     6+ teaspoons sugar for coating the muffin pan
                     CANDY THERMOMETER
                     fine mesh sieve

Buttery Crust:

1. Generously spray non-stick cooking spray lightly into each cup of the mini-muffin pan. Measure about 1/4 teaspoon sugar into each sprayed cup. Over the sink; turn the muffin pan around until you have coated the bottom and sides of each cup with the sugar. This adds to the taste but more importantly it eases the removal of each cup. Set aside.

2. Mix the butter and sugar on medium high until well incorporated, turn speed down to medium low and slowly add in Jeanne's GF AP Flour Blend. Mix well. The crust should feel moist but not soggy so when you pinch some it will stay together nicely, and not so dry that when you pinch it, it crumbles. 

3. Form the dough with your hands into a flat slab and wrap the it with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge at least 1/2 and hour, If it's chilled several hours let it sit out on the counter for about a half hour to be pliable. 

4. Barely moisten your rolling surface with non-stick spray, then lay down 2 lengths of plastic wrap about 12" x 18"/30.5 x 46 cm. each overlapping the long sides about 2 inches. Place the plastic wrap lengthwise on the rolling surface, the long side going across in front of you. Place the dough slab in the middle of the plastic lined surface, and place a third sheet of plastic over the slab. 

Roll the dough slab into a rectangle roughly 12" x 15"/30.5 x 38 cm or so aiming for about 1/4"/6 mm thickness. You may need to remove and replace the top sheet while you're rolling as it tends to get a bit caught in the plastic as you roll it. 

5. Using a round cutter at least 1/2 inch bigger around the top of your muffin pan cups, cut out circles to form your crusts. 

Use a thin flexible knife such as this small offset spatula to quickly
and cleanly run under the circle to aid in picking it up.
This is actually a utensil for forcing meat in a grinder, but I discovered several
years ago that it works perfectly as a dough tamper. Quite handy!

Place one circle gently into each cup. If the dough breaks or tears just push it back together, or add a small piece to repair the rip. Then flatten the rims a bit around each one, they do not need to look picture perfect! Take some stress off of yourself and let them be a bit rustic. Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes. This ensures that the crusts will hold there shape.

6. Fill the dough circles with CLEAN pie weights or beans and bake at 325°F for 10 minutes. Once the tartlette shells have baked, let them cool in the pan for five minutes. 

I must interject a small story here, which is really very funny when I think about it. These shells can be very temperamental, meaning that they can tear. So in knowing this knowledgable tidbit I thought to myself that I should not try to push foil or parchment paper into the cups as they would gouge holes in the tender dough. And as I'm sure most people at 1:30 AM on any given day/morning might make a slight error in judgement with the best of all intensions.

That being said, here's what happened. I loaded the cute little buttery dough cups with some beans specifically ear-marked for baking blind pastry. Great! No problem! Right. I baked the little darlings, let them cool for five minutes, positioned my hot pads for ultimate usage and aid in releasing undamaged goods from said muffin tin. All of that went well without a hitch, or is it a glitch? Oh well. I turned the pans upside down to "release" (that's the key wordage here) the beans from their duty having been done. And yes, some of them came out. Some. So since the muffin tin was bottom side up, I took a trusty wooden spoon and firmly whacked each cup bottom. I peeked underneath the muffin tin and was delighted to see that 75% of the cups cleanly released from the tin. Eureka! I made note of the cups that had not cooperated and whacked them several more times each, breaking the wooden spoon in half. Really, I swear that I was only tapping them firmly! I peeked again and all but one was down. I turned the tin right side up and poked the little stubborn dickens out, which meant that it was broken. Oh dear, said I, as I quickly ate all evidence of this minor set-back. I had bigger problems now that I was ready to address the uprighting of the cups. 

They were still filled with beans.

As I stood there staring blankly at this dilemma, I turned to look at the clock. It was now 2:15 AM. Okay, okay I thought, no big deal. I'll just gently poke them and then the beans will all fall out. Nope. I had to replace each cup back into the muffin tin to be sure to hold their shape while performing surgical bean extraction with a teaspoon. Stupid things. I did manage to get all of the beans out and only broke one cup in the process which followed it's former buddy that broke and wound up in my mouth! It was now 2:58 AM. Then intelligence kicked in as I thought that mini muffin papers would have worked great. Blast.

Lay one hot-pad onto each of the long edges of the muffin pan, (this enables you to remove crusts and weights without pinching and smashing the dough cup tops), then simply top the muffin pan carefully  with a rimmed baking pan, grasp the hot-pads and the two pans and turn both pans over and gently pull the muffin pan up and off. Carefully remove the pie weights, and most or all of the cookie crusts. If some of the crusts are not wanting to be removed, first remove the weights, and the cups that did come out. Once again with the pot holders in place-place the muffin pan back on top bottom side up, then gently but firmly smack a wooden spoon flatly onto the bottom of each cup. Wait 30 seconds or so and barely lift the muffin pan to check and see if they came out. You may need to repeat this step a couple of times. Trying to "dig" them out will result in broken cups. Place all of the cups onto a cooling rack and let them come to room temperature. Eat the broken ones! No one will know!

What sweet little bean indentations! It's a good thing that they will be filled!
Lemon Curd:
7. Heat the lemon juice, sugar and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, and mixture is hot but not boiling, about one minute. Remove from heat, and clip on a candy thermometer, but do not let it touch the bottom of the saucepan.

8. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and egg yolks together. Temper the eggs by whisking in 1/2 cup of the lemon mixture into the egg mixture. Then whisk all of the tempered egg mixture into the sauce pan of lemon mixture, mix well. With paper towels, wipe the egg mixture bowl clean, you will need it in step 9. Cook the lemon-egg mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture has thickened and reaches 170°F. (about 3-4 minutes.) Remove the pan from the heat. 

9. Stir in the cold butter until completely melted and mixed in well. Strain the lemon mixture with a fine mesh sieve/strainer over the cleaned bowl, using a rubber spatula to     gently push the curd through the sieve. Even top chefs have to do this step! Using the rubber spatula scrape the outside bottom of the sieve that is covered with curd, into the bowl. Inside the sieve you will see small "scrambled egg" bits, discard them. 

10. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd, touching everywhere. This prevents the curd from forming a "skin". Refrigerate curd until it's firm and spreadable, about 2-3 hours. You can whisk it before using to ensure a smooth curd.

To Serve:

Right before serving, fill each Shortbread Cup (if you didn't stomp on them all earlier), with the curd, and place a fresh blackberry on top. They are beautiful! And Tasty!