My friends often take advantage of my passion for cooking when we visit their homes. Many of them are accomplished cooks and bakers themselves, but they still enjoy asking me for ideas and putting me to work. This happened just last weekend when we celebrated the 4th of July with a big house party at the seaside home of our friends, Tom and Liz. No sooner had we arrived, then Tom presented me with a Naptime Chef pop quiz. I will admit, I used to dread pop quiz’s in math class, but I love them when they relate to anything culinary.
On this occasion Tom handed me four packages of pre-made individual chocolate and vanilla tart shells from Whole Foods. Liz had bought them on a whim without the slightest idea of what to make. To her credit, Liz is a fantastic cook, but she readily admits sweets and desserts are just not her thing. It was now up to me.
Upon first glance my thoughts turned to filling the shells with lime and lemon curd, and topping them with fresh berries. I loved the idea of a tangy citrus flavor contrasting with the buttery chocolate and vanilla. I also liked the fact that curd is a snap to make. In this instance my daughter skipped her nap because she was so pre-occupied with the six other children in attendance, so I didn’t need to worry about cooking this while she slept. However, I wanted to spend time catching up with friends, not toiling in the kitchen.
Since I had left my recipe binder at home I turned to the Barefoot Contessa for advice, and made some quick adaptations to her curd recipe. I cut down the amount of sugar since we didn’t want to children awake all night (!), and added a little extra zest, since I prefer the flavor extra tart. Even though I was working in an unfamiliar kitchen I was able to pull together both curds in a short 30 minutes. I simplified the process of making two flavors by duplicating the steps with each fruit as I followed the recipe - first I zested the lemons, then the limes, etc. - keeping the batters in separate containers. Then I carefully cooked each curd individually, and stored them in heatproof bowls at room temperature until we were ready to eat.
Assembling the tarts was the easiest part of the entire process, I simply spooned the curd into the individual shells and topped them with berries. It took all of five minutes, and dessert was ready. We set them out on the table around lunchtime and people nibbled on them day. Even my daughter enjoyed a lemon tart with a chocolate shell after her lunch. By the end of the day the plate was empty and, everyone happily agreed, I had passed my pop quiz with flying colors.
ps – Tom posted a picture of me assembling the tarts on my Facebook Fanpage HERE.
Lime Tarts with Fresh Berries
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, inspired by summer fruits
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1/2 c. lime juice* (about 5-6 limes)
1/2 c. raspberries for garnish
1/2 c. blueberries for garnish
Pinch of Kosher salt
*Note, to make lemon or orange curd simply substitute lemons for limes as noted.
1. Pour sugar into a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
2. Zest the limes and put the zest in the processor with the sugar. Process until sugar and zest are very fine and fully incorporated.
3. Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the lime sugar mixture and mix until fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mix until fully incorporated. Then, add lime juice and mix again until the whole mixture comes together.
4. Pour mixture into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the curd thickens. Do not let it simmer or boil! The curd will come together quickly and be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Once it is complete, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for long periods of time.
5. To assemble, spoon the curd into the tart shells(s) and top with berries.
Yields 3 cups of filling. Enough for 16 individual 4” tarts, or one large 12” tart.
Ideas for using Citrus Curd: Filling for tarts, topping for Pavlova, topping for pound cake, layers in an English Trifle, layers in a Parfait, filling for Gingerbread muffins, filling for Profiteroles or other puff pastry treats.
Naptime Recipe Props: This is a basic recipe that could work for many citrus fruits, including lemons, lime, oranges, or tangerines. I love the versatility and taste of citrus curds, they are always refreshing in the summer can be used in any number of ways. See ideas for uses above.
Naptime Stopwatch: Making fresh curd is intimidating to some, but it is really easy. Preparing two flavors took me 30 minutes total. And, if you make it ahead of time, the curd can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Naptime Reviews: Everyone loved the both the lemon and lime curds. They especially enjoyed mixing and matching the different curds, with the shells and berries. Each person came up with a different flavor combination.