Garnish

key_lime_pie 2

Never garnish edibles with the inedible.

After much delay, the tart preview is scheduled for next week – exact date to be determined. I’m guardedly optimistic about the outcome. I’m including lemon, key lime, and coconut cream. I’m also presenting the apricot-almond tart. It’s off the mark from what was requested, but it remains my particular favorite. I intended to present bare bones, unadorned tartlets so the tasting could focus solely on flavor. Let the flavor come first and leave the presentation for later. But, that axiom, “you taste with your eyes first” keeps rolling around in my head. Flavor is paramount, but just as a little Lancôme ensures they stick around to discover your winning personality, a little culinary zhushing can’t hurt either. Why not make the book AND the cover praise-worthy?

The research begins. An image search for ‘Key Lime Tart” resulted in pages of whipped-cream and meringue topped sweets garishly garnished with a slice of fresh lime, zest and all. If a slice of pie was served to me so garnished, my reaction would involve yanking the bitter fiend from its whipped cream lair and tossing it to the side of the plate. What’s appealing about that?

lg_key_lime_pie

Finally, I discovered this Fauchon lemon tart adorned simply with a thin square of mango gelée. Perfection.

Fauchon

Homework for this weekend: fruit gelée and other garnishes, cranberry tart, and faster assembly.

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Two Bit Tarts

Tarts

Red plum, Almond and peach tarts

No, I haven’t hung up my tart pans and chef’s knife, but my bill-paying career has lately taken up all of my time – traveling, traveling, traveling from Miami to Chicago with a stop in Denver, island hopping from Nassau to Aruba to Grand Cayman and most recently, Napa, Phoenix and San Diego. It’s no wonder when the last trip wrapped on Thursday, my immune system plummeted on Friday, allowing a cold (or is it flu?) to lay me low.

I haven’t been completely negligent in my baking, just my baking blogging. This weekend, with a fever and stuffed nose, it’s the perfect time to catch up. After whipping up an utterly unhealthy banana bread studded with peanut butter baking chips and smothered with cream cheese frosting*, I returned to my tart troubles.

After a few more imperfect iterations, I settled on my Culinary School pate sucree with a portion of the flour substituted with almond flour to give it some crumble. The resulting crust is sturdier than Hesser’s yet not as rock hard as the original sucree. It works for cream and custard fillings (lemon, key lime, coconut and almond), but becomes soggy overnight when filled with stone fruit. We’ll call that a ½ win.

The Crust
7.5 oz. softened butter
3 oz. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. vanilla
3 oz. egg, beaten
8 oz. All Purpose flour**
2 oz. almond flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Cream butter and sugar. Add salt, zest, vanilla and egg and beat until fully incorporated. Combine flours and mix until incorporated. Weigh out 2.75 oz. for each tartlet and press into sides and bottom of tartlet pans***. Blind bake as needed.

*Future trial – substitute pastry flour
**Future trial especially for my personal trainer – banana bread with Reese’s minis and crispy bacon covered in cream cheese frosting. God bless a girl with 12% body fat that still understands food porn.
***I’ve found a tortilla press works wonders for mass production. I pressed a 2.75 oz. ball of dough flat between two pieces of plastic wrap in the press, then fit the dough into the pans, pushing the overhang back in the sides as reinforcement.