Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mini Fruit Tart

I knowingly had lemon curd for the first time this past summer. I know, a late bloomer for all things delectable. The truth is, the stuff is not in my blood and I am sure my parents thought better than to get me started on another sugar addiction (I already had ice cream and cookies and found Nutella on my own).

D, on the other hand, has curd running through his veins: From his southern pull to his British blood, the boy is practically dripping the goop— and while we’re on it, clotted cream as well. It was when the two of us spent some time in London and around Scotland this summer that D ordered it with gusto and the stuff popped onto my radar. It did not take long for my cravings to begin.

The first tasting was at high tea: scones, clotted cream and lemon curd—oh awake from the dreaming-- the sweetest of combinations! How the Brits avoid title as World’s Fattest is beyond me. Upon arrival in Scotland we glutted ourselves on the substance and bought it in gift form for our return (I was informed it’s quite expensive in the U.S., which upon recent investigation found it is in fact, expensive).

We returned with our own little curd booty. Despite attempts of opening the sacred jar, it remains, stashed in the cupboard for a rainy day when the scent of scones fills the apartment.

A few weeks back when a whopping lemon meringue pie graced the table, I hadn’t the slightest notion that the filling I produced was, more or less, a curd. Sure, it was custardy, but when I think “curd” images of cottage cheese and sour milk fill the void.

In the attempt to work through an over zealous fruit purchase, images of vanilla custard clouds with mountains of fruit undulated through the sky. But as I searched for recipes, none caught my fancy. Instead I found this recipe for lime curd on and was shocked back to Britain. I prepared this little concoction. Let’s just pretend this is a healthy way to enjoy this stuff.

Serving Size= 6 persons. Active time= about 30 minutes. Inactive time= about 2 hours.
* walnut-graham cracker crusts (below)
* lime curd (below)
* fresh fruit topping (below)
* fresh mashed walnuts for topping (optional)

1) Just before serving, fill each walnut-graham cracker crust ramekin with lime curd (this will prevent the crust from becoming soggy).
2) Top with 2-3 large spoonfuls of fresh fruit mixture.
3) Can be served with a dusting of freshly ground walnuts, a splattering of heavy cream, fresh whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream or a light cookie.

* 5 graham crackers
* 1/3 cup walnuts
* ½ stick butter, melted

1) Preheat oven to 350F.
2) Combine graham crackers and walnuts in food processor or blender. Process until grainy. Add melted butter, process until well combined.
3) Press graham cracker mixture around the edges and bottom of 6 ramekins. Arrange on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes, until edges turn golden.
4) While crusts bake, begin the lime curd (below).

* ½ cup sugar
* 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
* 4 large egg yolks
* 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1-½ teaspoons grated lime peel

1) Add sugar, lime juice, egg yolks and butter to a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk to combine. Set lime peel in a heat-proof bowl aside.
2) Cook over medium-low heat until thick, smooth, and just beginning to bubble, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes.
3) Remove from heat and strain into bowl with lime peel. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic over the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold; about two hours. (Can keep up to 1 week.)

* ½ cup fresh blueberries
* 1 cup fresh Bing cherries, quartered and pits removed
* 1 mango, sliced into chunks
* 1 Tbl lime juice
* 1 Tbl sugar

1) Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Let set for at least 10 minutes before assembling tart.

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