Monday, December 6, 2010

The Tarte Taste of Success - Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Tartlets

The season has come for sharing delicious food with your fellow man, or woman, as the case may be… Heck, invite them both over… LOL The point is, that it is time for all the glorious smells of the holidays to come wafting from your kitchen, heralding something amazing is about to enter the nest room and thus fostering copious amounts of drooling from your guests. (Be sure to have extra napkins on hand) ;)

I am speaking of Meyer Lemon Mascarpone tarts with Pomegranate seeds and White Chocolate. Sounds yummy huh? Yeah, I am sitting here with a napkin near by, just in case I salivate over my keyboard while I am trying to type this up.

The whole idea for this dessert came from an incident at a lovely restaurant in Hood River. My meal was absolutely delicious… I had this incredible salad that was bursting with hazelnuts, blue cheese and greens and a phenomenal raspberry dressing, all made with local ingredients… Truly stellar. Normally I do not order dessert in restaurants. Yes, I enjoy baking, and yes I make A LOT of stuff to have on hand for when visitors arrive or things to take to work and share…. But that’s just it… I don’t normally eat sweet things. Oh I will sample occasionally, but I never sit down and EAT dessert. I know, I know, there is an old saying “Never trust a skinny cook”, but in all honestly, I think it is my distaste of sugar that has kept me from being as big as a house… LOL

But I am digressing… There is 1 other reason that I do not order dessert in most restaurants…. They don’t make them.

There are WAY too many restaurants out there that do not employ pastry chefs. This means that if they are offering dessert, it came from somewhere else.  All prepackaged in plastic and cardboard. If you are lucky, they are acquiring these little delectable bits from a local bakery… Most likely it came from Costco or some such place. And lord knows how long it's been sitting around...  This leads to a lot of soggy pastry crusts, nuances of plastic and that ever so lovely fragrance of "aux de Refrigerator". And while I am a big fan of Sweet and Salty or Sweet and Sour in my desserts, Sweet and Refrigerator is not my one of my favorite combinations.

Thus, after a dreadfully unsatisfying dessert of “Lemon Mascarpone Tart” I decided to embarked my own interpretation, sans the aux de fridge.

Crème Fraîche is a wonderful thing.  Being less tangy than sour cream being only 1 of it's many virtues.  It also doesn't curdle when exposed to heat, making it a delicious substitution for the sour cream in Beef Stroganov.  This is all fine and dandy, but one of it's most luxurious traits is it's ability to whip, just like heavy cream.  Yes, and it's more stable than heavy cream once it's whipped, holding the incorporated air much better, without "melting".  Thus as you will see, Crème Fraîche makes an excellent addition to a Mousse when you are trying to forgo gelatin (yes, and ovo-lacto vegitarians may rejoice now)  Granted, it won't be quite as airy as one based on Gelatin and Egg Whites, but it's still deliciously silky and smooth.

I was originally going to type this up in multiple posts, but decided that I would go ahead and give out the whole thing all at once since I have already posted about Pâte Sucrée before.

Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Tart

1/2 Recipe Pâte Sucrée (1 1/2 cups AP Flour, 4 oz Unsalted Butter, 1/2 tsp Salt, 1/4 cup Sugar, 1 egg yolk)
8 oz Mascarpone
8 oz Crème Fraîche
Juice and Zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
1/4 cup Confectioners’ Sugar
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 TB Confectioners’ Sugar
1 Pomegranate (arils only)
6 oz White Chocolate
1/4 tsp Lemon Oil

First you must make 1/2 a recipe of Pâte Sucrée.  (this will make 6 4-inch tarts)

Chill for about 1 hour wrapped in plastic wrap.

Remove from the refrigerator and divide the dough into 6 pieces.

Roll 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper (it just makes it easier as this dough is very tender and rips easily due to the high sugar content)

Peel of i sheet of waxed paper.....

Then place the dough over a 4 inch tart pan and peel of the second piece of waxed paper.

Gently work the pastry into the tart pan and press the edges to cut off the excess dough.

Repeat this process with the remaining 5 pieces of dough until you have lined 6 pans with pastry.
Dock each shell with a fork.

Then place on a sheet pan, line each shell with foil and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Fill the pastries with pie weights or beans to maintain their shape.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove the weights/beans and bake 10 minutes more.

Until all Golden, Brown and totally Delicious looking.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Then remove the sides and slide them off the bottom and let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container until ready to fill with the Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Mousse.

(This first part can me done a day or two ahead)

Make Mousse - 

Combine Mascarpone, Crème Fraîche and Meyer Lemon Zest in a bowl, mixing well with a spatula.

Add the strained Meyer Lemon juice and stir (with a spatula) until smooth but fairly runny looking (it’s OK, trust me)

Add confectioners’ sugar.....

and begin whisking until it thickens slightly. (this is because the Crème Fraîche will incorporate air and thicken)

Cover with plastic wrap on the surface and chill for 2 hours.

While the mousse is chilling, go ahead and prepare the pomegranate…. My friend Danielle has a great blog post regarding the dismantlement of a pomegranate, along with some delicious dishes from her Pomegranate Dinner Party.

Prepare a bowl of cold water...

Slice through the Pomegranate's skin, cutting it into "quarters".

Place the whole thing in a bowl of water and begin separating the seeds from the pith….
The arils (seeds) will sink to the bottom while the pithy parts will float.

Making it easy to scoop and deposit said pithy parts into the nearest trash receptacle.
Rinse and drain, then let dry a little before storing in the refrigerator until needed.

White Chocolate curls and/or shavings:
Place 6 oz of White Chocolate in a heat resistant bowl over simmering water.

Add 1/4 tsp Lemon oil (not extract, or the chocolate will seize)

When it is just barely melted, use a brush and paint the inside bottoms of the tart shells. (this will keep the mousse from making them soggy)

Return the remaining chocolate to the simmering water to keep it in a melted state.

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Using a small off-set spatula, smear the white chocolate in a thin layer, over the parchment.

Move the baking sheet to the refrigerator and let the chocolate set (about 1 hour)

Using the back of a metal spatula, push forward, in strips against the sheet of chocolate to form curls or “shavings”.

The higher the angle of the spatula, the more shavings you will have

as opposed to a lower angle which will give you a curl or a cigar.

Store these in the refrigerator until ready for your garnish.

OK, ALL the background work is pretty much done, so now it's finally time for some assembly so we can EAT the darned thing.

Finishing the Meyer Lemon Mouse, and Assembly:
Remove the mousse from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap, whisk the thickened cream to loosen it up a little.

Beat 1 cup Heavy whipping cream with 2 TB confectioners’ sugar until firm peaks, then add it to the Meyer Lemon Cream.

Fold it in well.

If the mousse seems a little on the runny side, go ahead and whisk it (by hand) until it begins to thicken (it will, thicken and fluff because of the Crème Fraîche and the added Heavy Cream)

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the Mousse into the tart shells.

Chill until ready to serve. (up to 1 hour)
For serving, place the tart on a plate.

Sprinkle with Pomegranate seeds.

Place White Chocolate shavings on top.

Now THAT is a Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Tart.

Boo Yah!  (I love it when a plan comes together)



Bo said...

I'm loving the step by step photos...sounds great...when I'm dining out I always asks if the desserts are made in house...if they are then I almost always indulge.

Patti T. said...

I haven't had a meyer lemon in years, I had to mail order them then. They were definitely worth the wait. Your desert looks sensational.

Spryte said...

OMG... those look sooooo good!!!!

Bob said...

Holy crap dude, those are stunning! I wish I had the patience to make little tarts like that, my girlfriend would love them. Heh.