Lemon Curd Tartlets With Blackberries

Lemon Curd Tartlets With Blackberries

In my early twenties, I spent a year covering sports for a newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I worked from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday, attending sporting events, interviewing athletes and coaches, and banging my head on the keyboard sitting at my computer writing features and game stories. The odd hours translated to a lot of odd eating, including way too many meals from the newsroom’s “Wheel of Death,” a giant vending machine with revolving shelves of pre-packaged, rubbery-looking sandwiches and other highly-processed offerings.

It was during my time in Fort Wayne that I started experimenting more in the kitchen. On my days off I cooked for myself, but my evenings at the paper? Not so much (enter: the Wheel of Death).

Meanwhile, one of my best friends was quickly working her way up as a pastry chef in Birmingham. During one of our phone conversations, she described in great detail a dessert she was making with lemon curd. It sounded divine, and after we hung up, I could think of nothing but lemon curd. I called her back, and she was patient enough to walk me through her recipe.

Blackberries

Armed with a killer recipe for lemon curd but lacking the necessary equipment to make it, I blew what was likely the rest of my week’s budget on a quality double boiler and zester. I then whipped up some lemon curd all by myself, in my own little kitchen. Mind you, I had no game plan for this lemon curd – there was no pie crust or cake waiting around for a filling. From what I can remember, I simply ate it spoonful by delicious spoonful over the next week, probably in bed and shortly after I woke up, which was usually around noon. (And yes, I wish I could tell my then-20-something-year-old self to cherish all of those hours of glorious sleep – that, and to wake up and wash some dishes already.)   
 
Much has changed since then, although I am still trying to keep up with the dishes and I still love a spoonful of lemon curd. If you do, too, you should try this tartlet recipe, which pairs a sweet pastry crust with tart and creamy lemon curd and ripe blackberries.

Lemon Curd Tartlets With Blackberries

If you don't have a double boiler, you can position a small stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water.

Ingredients:

For The Pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg

 For The Lemon Curd:
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (takes 2-3 lemons)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated/shredded lemon zest

Equipment:
8 3-inch or 4-inch tart pans * See Note At Bottom

Directions:

Make the Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. (If you’re using a double boiler, bring a small amount of water to boil in the bottom of the double boiler and place your ingredients in the top pot.) Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Add the butter in small pieces to the curd and whisk until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover and refrigerate for up to a week. This will make 1 ½ cups of lemon curd.

Make the Pastry: In a small bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Place the room-temperature butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy. Lightly beat the egg and add slowly to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Add the flour and mix just until it forms a ball. Don’t overwork the dough or your crust will turn out tough. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or until firm. Meanwhile, butter your tartlet pans.

Remove dough from fridge and separate into 8 separate pieces. If your dough is too hard, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. At this point, my dough was too sticky, so I covered the 8 pieces in plastic wrap and stuck them in the freezer for five minutes.

When the dough feels firm, roll out each piece of pastry on a lightly floured surface to fit the tart pans. Rotate the dough a quarter turn as you roll to help prevent sticking. (Rolling your dough between lightly floured sheets of parchment or wax paper will also help to prevent sticking.) Keep the remaining pieces of dough in the fridge while you roll out each pastry.

Carefully lay the rolled-out dough in the tart pan, pressing lightly along the bottom and up the sides and being careful not to pull on the pastry, which can cause it to shrink. Remove excess dough, saving to patch any holes that appear as you fit the dough into the pan.  Cover and freeze the tarts for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When the oven is ready, place the 8 unbaked tart shells on a baking sheet in the center rack. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until the crust is dry and light golden brown. If the bottoms of the pastry shells puff up during baking, lightly press the pastries back down. Remove from oven and cool.

Assemble the Tarts: When pastries have cooled just enough to touch, carefully remove them from the pans. Cool completely, and fill with desired amount of lemon curd. Top with blackberries, and dust with powdered sugar if you wish.

 

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* NOTE: I have 3-inch tartlet pans and was able to make a total of 10 tarts with this recipe. Because I only have 6 pans, I had to bake two batches. I kept the individual dough pieces covered in the fridge while the first batch was baking, and then pulled them out to roll when I was ready to use them.

Inspired by Amanda Culver, pastry chef and friend extraordinaire, as well as the Joy of Baking here and here

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