Archive for the 'Pie + Tart' Category

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

The dwarf Meyer lemon tree that The Astronomer’s parents gifted us two years ago produced only three fruits this season, which meant that there was only enough juice, zest, and flesh to execute one lemon-intensive recipe. After scrounging my bookshelves, the internet, and a fantastic article titled “100 things to do with a Meyer lemon“ for a very worthy candidate, I settled on this Meyer lemon curd tart by Chef Anne Burrell. Cakes and cookies were all in the running, but I ultimately chose a curd-based creation to let the fruit’s one-of-a-kind flavor shine through cleanly and brightly.

While I usually bake solo due to lack of counter space in the kitchen, I recruited The Astronomer to make the shortbread crust because he’s got a cool touch that’s perfect for working, shaping, and forming dough. This left me in charge of the filling, which came together as simply as the recipe billed, although it was a touch too sweet for our tastes. The original recipe called for 1 1/3 cups sugar, but a single cup would’ve been more suitable for our puckery palates—the recipe below reflects this preference.

Our tag-team effort yielded a most lovely tart—smooth curd cradled by a delicate, buttery crust. While it would’ve been awesome to have had a more bountiful lemon harvest this season, we maximized our Meyer lemon pleasure with this simple but immensely satisfying tart. Ain’t nothin’ like California citrus.

What else to make with Meyer lemons? Last year, The Astronomer made a dynamite Shrimp Piri Piri, while I baked blissfully bitter muffins.

For the crust

  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pea size pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons cold water

For the curd

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 3 Meyer lemons, zested
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pats

Make the dough

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the butter, sugar, flour, egg yolk and salt in a food processor and pulse for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture has a grainy consistency, or what Chef Anne Burrell likes to call the “Parmesan cheese” stage. Add half of the water and pulse the food processor 2 to 3 times. The dough should start to come together, add the remaining water if needed. Check the consistency of the dough by clenching a small handful in your fist. If the dough stays together it is the proper consistency. If not, pulse the dough with a little more water.

When the dough has reached the proper consistency, dump it out on a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, schmear the dough straight forward and roll it back with your fingertips. Repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, dust with flour if needed. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meyer Lemon Curd Tart

On a generously-floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch in thickness. Lay the dough in the tart pan. Push the dough into the sides of the tart pan using well-floured fingers. Roll over the top edge of the tart pan with the rolling pin to cut the extra dough from the pan and create a crisp edge.

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Vietnamese Coffee Crack Pie

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I refused to try Momofuku Milk Bar‘s famous Crack Pie for the longest time because I absolutely loath the trend of likening delicious foods to drug addiction. Illegal substances are serious. Dessert is not.

I guess you could say I cracked a few years ago when Renee Lynch of the Los Angeles Times prepared two stunning specimens for the Eat My Blog bake sale. Since the proceeds from the pies benefited the L.A. Regional Foodbank, I let go of my irrational stance and finally indulged in Chef Christina Tosi‘s Momo-fied take on southern Chess Pie. I’ll do anything for a good cause, wink wink.

This Vietnamese-twist on Crack Pie is still as ooey gooey, buttery, and sugary as the original, but slightly more complex due to a shot of dark and bitter espresso. There’s also a generous pour of sweetened condensed milk in the filling that really makes the entire package taste like a tall glass of cà phê sữa đá.

This recipe, which is a combination of crust by the Los Angeles Times and filling by Javaholic, makes two whole Crack Pies. While this might seem like too much of a good thing, you really can’t go wrong. Everyone loves Crack Pie.

Cookie for crust

  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces) flour
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 egg

For crust

  • Crumbled cookie for crust
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Scant 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) rolled oats

For filling

  • 14 tablespoons light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons milk powder
  • 1 cup (2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/2 cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Make cookie crust

Vietnamese Coffee Crack Pie | Banh "Crack" Ca Phe Sua

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated. With the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.

Vietnamese Coffee Crack Pie | Banh "Crack" Ca Phe Sua

Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust. This makes enough for two crusts.

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Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

As I was shopping for produce at my local branch of Super King, I spied a stack of ruby rhubarb stalks out of the corner of my eye. On impulse, I grabbed a bag and quickly filled it with a half dozen stems. I had no clue at the moment what would become of this seasonal booty, but I was excited about the possibility of a pie, a crumble, or maybe even jam.

Additionally, I was stoked about working with rhubarb from prep to plate. I have consumed plenty of the stuff over the years, but never cooked with it in my kitchen. I find that working with a raw ingredient yields invaluable insights that mere eating cannot provide. Like, I had no idea that unadulterated rhubarb tasted so wonderfully snappy and tart! It sort of reminded me of a fruitier upright elephant ear.

After coming home from the grocery store and going through my cookbooks, food magazines, and various web resources, I settled on this rhubarb and raspberry crostata recipe from Karen Demasco of Locanda Verde in New York City. It appeared in last month’s Bon Appétit and received rave reviews from those who had made it—three-and-a-half  “forks” to be exact.

Both the dough and the filling came together smoothly and easily, and the finished crostata brought a great balance of flavors. The crust was a buttery, nutty, and tender blend, while the filling didn’t drown the fruit in unnecessary sugar. The Astronomer and I both appreciated how the natural flavors of the raspberries and rhubarb shone through.

I love it when unplanned market purchases turn out so nicely.

For crust

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

For filling

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 cups 1/2″-thick slices rhubarb, approximately 6 stalks
  • 1 6 ounce container fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Turbinado sugar

Make crust

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

Combine both flours, sugar, and salt in a processor; blend for 5 seconds. Add butter; pulse until butter is reduced to pea-size pieces. Whisk egg and milk in a small bowl to blend; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form.

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crostata

Gather dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill at least 1 1/2 hours. The crust can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

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Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

I’m as predictable as they come when it comes to desserts. Presented with a menu of sweets at the end of a meal, I always end up choosing the one featuring salted caramel or seasonal fruits. Recently though, I’ve branched out beyond the usual and opened my heart to coconut. I don’t know whether I’ve been influenced by my Vietnamese roots or the transformative Roasted Coconut Cream Torte I sampled at Extraordinary Desserts a few months ago, but these days, I can’t resist anything cool, creamy, and heavy on the coconut.

Haunted by a most heavenly coconut cream tart that I recently indulged in at San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, I felt compelled and inspired to bake my own coconut cream pie. As good fortune would have it, this month’s Cooking Light magazine featured a lightened up recipe that promised to be nothing less than completely satisfying. Low-cal desserts aren’t usually my thing, but this recipe sounded perfectly well-rounded.

The finished product hit all the notes that I demand in a great coconut dessert—it was fragrant, smooth, distinctly coconut-y, and transported me somewhere tropical and warm. Next time around, I’m painting the bottom of the crust with a thin coating of chocolate to truly capture the Tartine experience at home.

For crust

  • 1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Trader Joe’s)
  • Cooking spray

For coconut filling

  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For meringue topping

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Prepare crust

Coconut Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 425°. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute by using your index finger to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your other hand to form a “U” shape. Continue the same motion all around the pie plate.

Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. While the oven is on, toast 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut. Set aside to cool.

Make coconut filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

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