Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

Lemon Tart MosaicKey Lime TartEdited to add: I'm horrible! I completely forgot to mention that Mary of Starting from Scratch picked this week. Sorry Mary!

Boy that's a mouthful, isn't it?

I gotta be honest here (mainly because I promised myself I would)... This week was a disaster for me. The first tart came out more like lemon soup (pictures on the left), and the second tart (pictures on the right) had a beautiful texture and a way too tart taste with a bitter aftertaste.

*sigh*

Onto the specifics! The first time through, I used Meyer lemons. I was excited to finally see these in my local grocery store since I'd heard about them on the web and had never seen them. (Sure enough, all of these were gone a day later. Everybody must have jumped on them.) I started the lemon curd/cream the night before I wanted to serve the tart. I had all of the equipment ready to go, including an instant read thermometer we've been using for years. I read up on the problems and questions thread and I thought I was all ready to go. I used my stainless steel bowl, and whisked constantly. It was tricky trying to get the thermometer turned on and in the bowl while whisking, but I managed it. And here's where the first problem comes in: I listened to Chicken Little between my ears instead of going with Zen Gut Girl. The cream had just started to thicken and I took a temperature reading. It climbed past 183 and I panicked and took the cream off the heat.

It was a little runny even after I added the butter, but I remembered some of the comments and hoped for the best as I put it in the fridge to cool. When I took it out the night of the party, it seemed fine. Until I whisked it to smooth it out and it turned into lemon soup. Tasty lemon soup, but lemon soup nonetheless. I forged ahead because a couple of the guests were big lemon fans, but it was pretty much a bust. (Oh, they liked the taste and were very nice about the whole thing. I just had visions of the tart from the book.)


DSCN1412FSCN1459I decided to try one more time, only with Key Limes instead of lemons for my man. He's not a lemon fan and has been itching for a Key Lime pie for months.

I think this time around that my technique was fine, but my plan was dorked. Instead of looking for a key lime recipe as a touchstone, I winged it. I just substituted the limes in place of the lemons and guessed how much zest would be the equivalent. (Umm... yeah... I figured that three key limes was about the same volume as one lemon. That's nine key limes that we zested to make the cream. Any surprise from you more experienced types that the cream came out bitter? Dur...)

I served the lemon tart soup with creme fraiche and blackberry coulis, and sweetened whipped cream with the lime tart to try and offset some of the bite (didn't work).

Recipe Links:

As always, please check out the rest of the Tuesdays With Dorie group to see how they fared with the tart!

27 comments:

Engineer Baker said...

Sad! It's too bad neither quite came out right - mine was really tart too, because I just winged the amount of zest. Maybe next time?

Shari said...

Good for you for trying it twice! I like the pictures along each side of your post!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it was tasty anyway.
Yes, I love your photos up and down each side. Typepad doesn't offer that.

Donna said...

Sorry, I forgot to click the name button! Duh!
I'm sure it was tasty anyway.
Yes, I love your photos up and down each side. Typepad doesn't offer that.

Judy said...

One of my favorite desserts is fruit soup, so you may be on to something there. That's what you meant to fix, right? ;) I halved the filling recipe, but I used the zest from 2 large Meyer lemons. It was pleasantly tart, not bitter. I thought about trying limes as well. Maybe I will.

amanda. said...

You're a better person than me. Two of my shells broke and I just gave up on it. Love all the pictures!

lemontartlet said...

You went above and beyond on this one! Very impressive!

CB said...

Love all the pictures! Great perserverence.
Clara @ I♥food4thought

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Di said...

Sorry to hear that your tarts didn't work out, but great pictures of the two attempts. The lime one sounds really good, though I can understand how too much zest might be a problem. =)

Natalie said...

Engineer Baker: Oh, I'm definitely going to try this one again! Next time, key limes with a better grasp of zest amount. Ooooh, or maybe the orange one, that one looks divine. Ooooh, or maybe the meyer lemons again (if they ever show up at the market again).... Ooooh, or.... *sigh* :D

Shari: Thanks!

Donna: LOL, Thanks!

Judy: Oooh, fruit soup! Yeah, yeah that's it! :D

Amanda: I don't know about better. Stubborn is more like it! Thanks!

Lemontartlet: I dunno how impressive it is to dork it up twice, but thanks! :P

CB: Thanks!

Di: I was so disappointed that the lime one didn't turn out. But I'm learning, that has to count for something, right?

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Good on you for giving it a go twice! Citrus fruits can be fiddly, but keep trying, it's worth it!

Sarah said...

Sorry it wasn't working for you. Great pictures!

Piggy said...

well, your tarts still look great to me! I noticed a few other bloggers mentioned that their lemon cream turned soupy when they whisk it again once it's taken out of the fridge. I skipped that step actually, and mine actually turned out alright. You might want to skip the 2nd whisking when you try it next time. :-)

LyB said...

So sad! I might try with limes at some point, it sounds pretty good, not with 9 though... ;)

Jayne said...

Mine got soupy too, but then the next day it had thickened up again. I was thinking of trying limes, too. Good for you for going through the whole process twice!

Elizabeth said...

your second attempt looks lovely!

You know, I just had kept my tart in the fridge...and took it out, cut and took pics immediately. Mine did run a bit after being out of the fridge...

My cream never got to 180 -- so, I kind of just had to go by instinct.

Great job -- learn to trust your gut!

Melissa said...

Sad for you but it's good to know I'm not the only one who has disasters sometimes!

Heather said...

I'm sorry that you had troubles with this one. Good for you for trying again! Love your pictures!

Natalie said...

Mevrouw Cupcake: Thanks! The second time through annoyed me because it came out looking soooo good :)

Sarah: thanks!

Piggy: Good tip, thanks!

lyb: Yeah, learn from my mistake, LOL!

Jayne: The pieces/parts of the lemon did firm up the next day a bit. Thanks!

Elizabeth: Thanks! I knew I shouldn't have counted on serving it at a specific time...

Melissa: Disasters are just learning opportunities, right? (bleah :)

Heather: Thanks!

Anne said...

Good for you doing two attempts! It looks beautiful anyways!

April said...

Sorry that your tart didn't work out. I will use your experience with the key limes, so that I won't try it.

Bumblebutton said...

Lazy me would never have given it a second try. I didn't whisk the cream out the fridge either--it looked like its thickened state was kind of tenuous. I love your blog design, and the running photos.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I had lemon soup too :( I want to make this into a lime one as well. Guess I should check on the zest amount before making it too bitter. thanks for the tip!

Jaime said...

i'm sorry you didn't have much success...but you should try again - it was the most amazing tart!

the key lime one was beautiful, sorry it was bitter

Dana said...

I love the pics.. Very cute...

And it's great that you tried twice, very impressive!!

eatme_delicious said...

Oh no! Sorry to hear neither tart turned out quite right. Good for you for persevering and for trying something new with the limes though!