Archive for September, 2010

life gave me meyer lemons

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

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Recently, I was fortunate enough to receive a special gift of a dozen meyer lemons from a personal tree in California. I’ve read so much about them but never actually used them in dessert, so I was eager to put these to use. Meyer lemons have something like a cross between the tartness of a conventional lemon and a sweetness of tangerines. Its mild, sweet fragrance exudes from its pores in an intoxicating way, which apparently, even my baby could not resist.

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I made a meyer lemon tart with a spiced chocolate crust and chocolate creme chiboust. This tart utilizes Johnny Iuzzini’s spiced chocolate tart shell and crème chiboust recipes from Dessert Fourplay and Dorie Greenspan’s lemon cream recipe from Baking: From my Home to Yours.

I had searched through various recipes along the lines of lemon curd and decided upon Dorie Greenspan’s incredibly silky lemon cream recipe. It is comparable to a curd except it’s much more silky and luxurious as the butter is blended in with a food processor/blender at the end, creating an emulsion. And when I read the recipe was from Pierre Herme, I decided it was an absolute must to try. The lemon cream recipe is also available on Serious Eats. Dorie calls for patience as the cream comes up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in a double boiler, and making this cream certainly tested mine. It seemed to take forever to come up to this temperature (longer than the 10 minutes she said it could take)! I was most likely not using enough water in my double boiler or perhaps using an inadequately sized one.

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Having made the lemon cream already, I loved Johnny Iuzzini’s unconventional approach to a making lemon tart by using a spiced chocolate crust and a chocolate crème chiboust. The chocolate-meyer lemon combination was a love. A crème chiboust is typically made with either beaten egg whites, which Johnny’s recipe calls for, or whipped cream and can be used to fill cream puffs and the like. Of course, halfway through the recipe I realized the egg whites were essentially uncooked, and my cautious mom instincts took over given the recent salmonella outbreak, even though my organic eggs were probably fine. Not wanting to turn back, I decided to see if heating the egg whites over a double boiler, similar to the way a swiss meringue buttercream is prepared, would work. It probably led to some deflation, and given the fact that I halved the recipe to begin with, the chiboust layer was a bit thin. Nonetheless, it still came out delicious.

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The chiboust is also frozen and cut into a circle, which was a bit difficult given the delicateness and thinness of the layer, and the layer didn’t quite reach the end of the tart shell. In the book they’re prepared as mini tarts, which would have been easier to handle, I think. Therefore, I added some cocoa nibs to fill the slight gap.

Despite some complications and possible cussing making this tart, I was pleased with the end result, and my family seemed to love it, as well, which of course made it worth the effort.