"Eat dessert first," George always said. "Life's too @#!*%ing short!"
So I'll begin my summer posting with dessert and a recipe inspired by and adapted from my regional French cooking guru, Chef Alex Begovic, executive chef of the posh and rather exclusive Ingomar Club in the Carson Mansion.
I love Chef Alex's approach to food and teaching: Simple, fresh, organic, local whenever possible, a little cooking lore thrown in with a bit of opinion, and the ingredients messed with as little as possible to get the best results. I don't know if he would agree with that sentence, but it's how I see him. It's also why I enjoy taking his classes.
This creamy lemon filling (recipe below) made with my beloved Meyer lemons is a perfect accompaniment to fresh organic berries, and really you could stop right there and bring it to the table.
But make a pâte sucré with whole wheat pastry flour,
spread with mascarpone cheese,
topped with Meyer lemon filling and a ring of raspberries, and you've just outdone yourself.
Meyer Lemon and Mascarpone Tart with Raspberries
Lemon filling recipe adapted from Chef Alex Begovic, pâte sucré recipe adapted from Food Network (yes, I actually go there once in a while). Inspiration, my own.
Whole Wheat Pâte Sucré
(pronounced paht soo-cray, equally accented syllables, it means sugared dough)
Makes one blind-baked pie shell
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons Splenda Sugar Blend (can use 2 tablespoons sugar if preferred)
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup sweet butter cut into small pieces, keep cold
2 tablespoons cream or half 'n half
(1 cup mascarpone cheese for later. See instructions below.)
Combine the flours and sugar and place in a food processor. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse a few times until mixture is like coarse bread crumbs.
Add the egg and the cream and pulse until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. You may have to add a bit more cream, depending on the type of flour you're using. The dough can look a bit ragged at this point.
Gather the dough together in waxed paper to form a ball, then gently press it into a circle. Put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough can be in the fridge overnight (well wrapped) to be used the following day if desired.
To bake, using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out on a floured board to about 1/8-inch thickness. Place it in a tart pan (removable bottom optional), gently patting and manipulating until it fits snugly into the pan, trim the edges even with the top edge and prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork.
Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper cut a bit larger than the tart pan, then fill with pie weights or beans.
Bake for about 20 minutes in a 375-degree oven or until the crust is golden brown.
Remove the pie weights and the parchment and allow the shell to cool completely on a wire rack.
When cooled, spread the mascarpone cheese over the bottom of the crust. Refrigerate while making the filling.
Meyer Lemon Filling
3/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
3 tablespoons Splenda Sugar Blend (or 6 tablespoons sugar)
1/2 cup butter, cut into small pieces
lemon zest from 1 lemon
Place the eggs and sugar into a heavy saucepan, preferrably stainless steel, and beat with a hand mixer or whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and has thickened.
Whisk in the lemon juice and butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted and the mixture reaches a simmer and thickens to the consistency of pudding.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon zest, whisking a bit longer to help the cooling process.
Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cool in the fridge until all the heat has been released.
Putting it Together:
Remove the mascarpone-filled pie shell from the fridge and pour the cooled lemon filling into it, spreading it smoothly to the edges.
Garnish with berries and take to the table so your friends and family can make all the appropriately appreciative murmurings before you begin to slice and serve.
I hope it's obvious that you must prepare the different components of this dessert allowing enough time for everything to cool sufficiently. Pouring hot, or even warm, lemon filling over the mascarpone will result in a melted mess. Please don't do that.
Could you make the pie shell using just all-purpose flour? Of course you could. But this recipe works well with the whole wheat flour added, which adds fiber, which is healthier for you, so why not?
Copyright © 2005-2008, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved