Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cell Phone Hickey, With Lemon Tart

Independence Day is upon us - and how is that, I ask? How is it already almost July? For those lovely readers who reside outside of the U.S., Independence Day (commonly known as the 4th of July) is a patriotic holiday where we celebrate our Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Sound grand? It's really not; it's actually just a day of barbecues, fireworks, parades, and family gatherings. Mostly, it's a day where folks want to hang outside, eat food, drink spirits and be merry.

But here in Phoenix, where the outdoor temperature lately is about 475 degrees - or so it feels - it's a bit uncomfortable outside. As of late, my efforts to be outside have been heroic, to me, but not successful. I look out my window and gaze upon the sunny gloriousness and I'm seduced - totally convinced that I must be out there with a trashy book or a magazine about shrinking Hollywood women or soaking up enough rays to warrant requisite later-in-life botox treatments, because who WILL I be without them? So, under this obligatory oppression - I get my lily-ass out there and try to be one with the weather...and I try for as long as I can to pretend that I'm not fecking out of my mind miserable out here in the sun.

I take a little dip in the pool, telling my scorched skin that it'll feel all refreshed in just a wet-second - and afterall we're outside and it's so lovely out here in nature isn't it? Meanwhile, my epidermis is folding inward, trying to reach my organs for a system-wide protest - or at the very least, some shade. By the time I reach my lounge chair, and get settled again - ready to read or luxuriate or internally-wax-poetic about being outside in this gloriousness - I'm ALREADY dry again.

So, I have about 3 minutes for internal-poetic-waxing before it all begins again. In the meantime, I decide to call someone from the Midwest to complain about all of this drama. So, I grab my cellphone from the nearby side-table and dial - then press the phone to my ear. Then, I let out a little SCREAM. Because the cellphone that was baking in the sun for 30 minutes now had an external temperature of 475 degrees and had just scorched my ear and my neck - so now I have a CELLPHONE HICKIE. Attractive. Enough already. I can't even make friends with the cacti.

The cellphone hickie convinced me that it was clearly time to bake something other than my skin. Baking always makes me feel better and I wanted to try a recipe that would be light and fresh for the summer, and GREAT for the upcoming holiday. So, onward...

French Lemon Cream Tart

This is just superb! Way better than my epidermis! I recently purchased Dorie Greenspan's Baking:From My Home To Yours and I ADORE this cookbook to no living end. It's not only great for straight-up food porn, but the writing is excellent, the details are spot-on, and the glossary is invaluable. And this tart? Fun to make, a treat for the senses (the zest is divine) and a learning experience that is guided by Dorie's well placed instructions. The Lemon Cream is adapted from none other than Pierre Herme himself and could be used in a million ways - pastry, toast, cakes, pies, cupcakes, tartlets - you name it. It's creamy and light - yet rich and decadent too - and balances sweetness and tartness just right, as far as I can tell. And the crust is crisp with just enough "give" - and sweet enough to be a shortbread all on its own. Delicious.

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
9 T. unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put flour, sugar, and salt in processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture has pieces the size of peas and smaller. Break up the yolk and add a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. After the egg is added, pulse for 10 seconds at a time until the dough forms clumps. Then, turn the dough out onto a surface and very lightly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients.

Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides, saving a bit of leftover dough for any patching of cracks that may occur during baking (optional). Freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking (can be longer). Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and place the buttered side tightly against the dough. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press down those areas with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or until crust is firm and golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to come to room temperature.

Lemon Cream
1 c. sugar
grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice (4-5 lemons)
2 sticks + 5 T unsalted butter, cut into T size, room temperature

Needed: blender, instant read temperature, strainer

Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. In a large heatproof bowl (off the heat, at this point), combine sugar and zest between your fingers until grainy. Whisk in eggs, then lemon juice. Set bowl over pan and whisk once the mixture becomes tepid. Cook mixture until it becomes 180F. You must whisk continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. The mixture will become foamy, then thicken as it gets closer to 180F - and be warned, it takes at least 10 minutes.

When it reaches 180F, strain the cream into the blender and discard the zest. Let the cream cool, stirring occasionally, to 140F, about 10 minutes. Turn blender to high and add butter, 5 pieces at a time, scraping down sides as needed. Once all the butter is in, blend for 3 more minutes. Pour the cream into a container and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream; refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Then, loosen cream with a whisk and spoon into tart shell. Serve immediately or refrigerate. ENJOY!


Anonymous said...

That looks delicious--I love citrus flavors in the summer. I just found your blog and I really enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

What a dreamy looking lemon dessert, Ann, it's gorgeous! Nothing against your epidermis, but this is so pretty. Entertaining too, as usual!

Anonymous said...

ROFL! I've never been to Arizona in the Summer, but I can imagine it's like where I live in the winter; you stay indoors. Either way, this was comic relief coupled with gorgeous baking, which is just perfection in my mind. Goodness, this dessert looks elegant!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Whenever I hear about 4th July I'm taked back to when I lived in US and saw that exact day a lady with some american flag shorts. I'm still traumatized by the image of that butt. I'm glad you made this wonderful tart to distract me from that fact.
I like how smooth it is! Shame about the weather but hey eat some chilled tart and you'll be better!

Jennifer S said...

475 degrees exactly! I have also been looking outside longingly. It's just so freaking hot.

Have you ever taken a drink from a bottle of water that you left in your car, and forgot that it would be scalding hot?

This dessert looks delicious.

NV said...

Mmmmm ... I love LEMON desserts! This sounds marvelous. Sorry about the burn. We had an unseasonably cool day at 75, but don't hate me too much. One minute it was raining. Then, not. Raining. Not. Raining. Not. AHHHHHHHHHHH! So I couldn't enjoy it.

hungryandfrozen said...

That is one classy looking tart. The lemon cream sounds positively drinkable. Try to avoid parking your car in the sun too- the metal clips on seatbelts get insanely hot! :)

grace said...

yes, i too prefer baked tarts over baked neck and ear skin. this is a delightfully refreshing tart--i hope it cools you down a bit. i was jealous of all ya'll southwesterners when it was crazy cold here, but now i don't envy you at all. :)

Anonymous said...

O.k. Sun, we know you make our lives possible and without you we'd die, but sometimes you smile a little too hard! Sorry about your hickie, Ann. The tart looks like sweet consolation, though. Thanks for starting my week off with a laugh and a great recipe! Have a great 4th!

Joe said...

That looks delicious. I'd say I'm going to try to make this, but that's never going to happen. Instead, I'll have to remember to read this post every time I'm tempted to complain about the NYC heat - which is about 900 times a day.

Anonymous said...

Oh, fresh looking! I've been looking for something for the 4th and I think this is it, thanks. I made the Carmelicious bars and they were great!

By the way, my aunt lives in Scottsdale and we visited in the summer and I thought I was going to DIE outside. It is so very hot. But you're right, you look outside and it looks so beautiful you feel you should be out there enjoying the weather. Thanks for the giggle.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about your heat and your ear, but I'm sitting here trying to decide how I could making the lemon cream and just eating the whole thing with a spoon.
You should visit the midwest! It's 66 and sunny here today!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I was so relieved when I was about 13 and they started saying the sun was bad for you. I love being outdoors, but baking in the sun, not so much.

Anything lemon has my name on it.

Patricia Scarpin said...

What a coincidence, sweetie! I made a lemon tart on the weekend, too.
Yours looks much more luscious, though!

Anonymous said...

Too funny! I left my phone in the car okay, the dash board, And it died. Yes, when I went to make a call and hit send I got an awesome message "internal memory crash". Your post really cheered me up! :)

Lisa said...

Hi Ann - this is too funny.

So far, I have had to travel to Phoenix twice for work. In January? Hell no. February? No again. July both times. It was so flippin hot they said the plane might not be able to take off!!

The lemon tart looks luscious - my favorite combo - citrus and creaminess! Maybe a creamsicle one with orange??

Nic said...

Having lived in Tucson, I know how hot everything gets when the sun has its way with it, but I'm suprised it hadn't melted if you are in Phoenix!

The tart looks incredible. That pastry is my favourite sweet one too, and I've made that filling before - divine!

Sugar Jones said...

Okay... we are the nutbags that actually travel TO Arizona in the summer. I know... I know... are you crazy? We usually spend time in Sedona or Flagstaff. We save our trips to Scottsdale for the fall. I swear, I tried my hardest to get my husband to move out there. No go... he spent a few summers out there when he lived in Tempe. Apparently, he is still suffering some Post Traumatic Stress Disorder over it all. (Yeah... that's what I'll blame the jackassiness on... PTSD from summer in AZ.)

Ann said...

Hi Friends! Oh these are all so funny! Especially from those of you who live here or who've visited here in the summer (or have had husbands here, lol!) - you see how we suffer? Please send money for plane tickets, PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

Here I was complaining about the heat in NYC, and here you are in 475 degree heat with your skin folding in toward your organs. Screw the Hamptons, I'm coming to save you. Or, at least to share this tart?

Manager Mom said...

Cell phone hickey? I love you. Luscious looking lemon tart picture that made me gain at least pounds through osmosis? I hate you.

Do you think they have discount Botox? I'm on board in theory, but it's just really dang expensive.

NV said...

Instead of getting burned, how 'bout getting tagged? Check out the blog, girl!

Anonymous said...

It' like here in the winter when it's minus 30 degrees, the same concept, just different extremes. Only you've made it entertaining. I'm giggling at work. I do love lemon desserts and this one is just so pretty! It is more complicated that I am used to, but I'm kind of inspired to try it. Do you think I could make it in a pie pan (I don't have a tart pan)?

Anonymous said...

A cell phone hickie! Oh, honey.. I feel you! Here in southern Georgia, we are all walking around with scorched behinds -- from what you ask? Any efffin' chair, leather seat, or poolside. I swear -- I was close to blistering. It was horrible. Those northerners just can't imagine. Nope.

The lemon tart is looking bangin' or kickin' or some such modern slang for totally frickin' fantastic.

I wish I could just dive right into that baby and soothe these blistered buns. Yup.