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Dec 2, 2006 03:38 AM

Baking From My Home to Yours: Pies and Tarts

December 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the Pies and Tarts chapter of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. So far, we have made:

    Chocolate Cream Tart
    My husband and I made this with the plain sweet tart dough (rather than chocolate) because I thought chocolate on chocolate might be too heavy. The custard is very easy to put together. We made the custard and the tart dough the night before, then baked the dough and assembled the tart the following day (Thanksgiving). It was a huge success. We used Callebaut 54.5% chocolate -- depending on the crowd, I might try this with stronger chocolate next time.

    Quick Classic Berry Tart
    We've made twice so far, with outstanding results. This is the first tart dough that I've enjoyed both making and eating. For my tastes, pie and tart crusts are usually just a waste of time, something to push aside so you can get at the rest of your dessert. This tart dough is more like a shortbread cookie.

    Our only modification: the second time we made this recipe was for Thanksgiving, so we made a double recipe of the tart dough, baked the tart in an 11" pan rather than the 9" pan called for, and made a few mini/raspberry strawberry tarts for our toddler and the other kids coming for Thanksgiving. Yes, they enjoyed them. By the way, without much effort, this recipe comes out looking exactly like the photo in the book, which is a real bonus.

    1. I've been really tempted by the banana cream pie. It totally doesn't feel like the kind of thing to eat in the fall, yet it's really calling out my name (particularly if one were to put a think layer of bittersweet chocolate on the cooled crust to both function as a barrier to the moistness of the pastry cream and add that yummy chocolate flavor that marries so well with bananas (drool).

      1. Quick Classic Berry Tart

        Beautiful and delicious, but not quick. The tart shell is easy and very good. The instructions for the pastry cream, however, leave much to be desired. If I hadn't made pastry cream many times in the past, I woul'v'e had an absolute mess. Greenspan says to bring the mixture to a boil, and then boil for two minutes more. Long before mine reached a boil, it was verging on over-cooked. It was so thick after cooling, it was almost impossible to spread it in the tart shell. That said, however, it tasted just fine, and didn't seem too thick.

        1. Florida Pie, p340.

          I made this for Christmas Eve after a dinner of stone crab. This was really good. In fact, I made it again this weekend to bring over to mom and dad's yesterday. Dad loved it. It's basically a key lime pie with the addition of coconut. First a thin coconut cream layer is made by reducing heavy cream and shredded coconut, and then pouring into a graham cracker crust. This is covered by a classic key lime filling made with sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Bake for 12 minutes, let it cool, and then put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes before whipping the egg whites. Shredded coconut is also folded into the meringue. Both times I froze it overnight, and then moved it to the refrigerator.

          After browning the meringue under the broiler:

          A messy slice:

          1. French Lemon Cream Tart
            Sour Cream Pumpkin Tart

            The tart pastry is very easy and good (and sandy shortbread type), but I have a hard time pressing it into the pan evenly, and so it cooks unevenly with some overly brown spots. The first time I made it it was fine, but the second time I overcooked it and some spots overbrowned so much I had to break it up and crumble the crust in a bowl and spoon the lemon curd over.

            I have previously spoken about how great the sour cream pumpkin filling is. Just silky smooth and dead rich. Perfect.

            The lemon filling was good. I didn't realize how rich it was until I started adding the butter into the eggs and sugar in the blender. Although not a complicated recipe, it was very difficult to take the temperature of the mixture while constantly whisking. I don't think I ever reached 180F. When I strained it, I did have fine particles of cooked yolk and white in the strainer. Still, after bravely adding the 2 sticks and 5 Tbsp of butter, I got an extremely rich and flavorful lemon cream. It was not 'deceptively light' as described and this is likely due to my technique errors and the type of blender I was using not really fluffing it. Still it was liked by all spooned on crust crumbles and topped with whipped cream and was crazy good on biscuits the next day.