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Help with Lemon Dessert & Edible Gift

I am planning my (Orthodox) Easter dessert offering for our hosts.

I'm deciding between a lemon curd tart filling: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/le...

or a whole lemon tart: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/0...

and this tart shell recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/1...

My questions are:

1) Which kind of tart looks more scrumptious?

2) Could I add fresh thyme to the tart dough, to add another level of flavor?

3) Any other fantastic lemon dessert ideas that would blow these two out of the water? (I'm not interested in lemon cake, however

)

4) I also wanted to bring an edible gift for the house, like strawberry jam. Any other ideas?

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  1. I love a tangy, creamy lemon curd tart. I recommend the recipe from Alice Medrich's book Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, which you'll find here: http://butteredup.blogspot.com/2012/0...

    The crust is wonderfully crisp and tender, and truly easy - made with melted butter, pressed in the tin, and baked from room temperature with no weights. You could easily add an herb to it (I love rosemary with lemon desserts). The lemon curd has a perfect sweet-tart balance, to my taste. I did bake the fillrd tart for few more minutes than indicated to be sure the curd set up as it cooled.

    You can see a photo of the one I made using that recipe here: http://www.chow.com/photos/887040

    3 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Thanks for the recipe! In the link it says it takes a lot of patience to press the dough in the tin- how was it for you? Do you prefer this method to more traditional ones?

      Your picture is gorgeous!

      1. re: eviemichael

        I didn't find getting the dough in the tin difficult. I think the key is to not dump it all in in one lump and then try to get even coverage. I separated out around a third of it and used that for the sides, and then broke the rest into clumps over the bottom and pressed it all in evenly. I find it simpler than rolling out a crust and transferring it, and there's no real worry of overworking it. But really, the proof of the pudding etc., and this crust has a great texture and flavor.

    2. I make a lemon tart with a layer of cream cheese filling (similar to cheesecake) below the lemon curd that I really like. It plays well against the tartness of the curd. I think raspberries, especially since it's the season make a pretty presentation.

      7 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Sounds lovely! Would you be willing to share the recipe?

        I make a pie that has the same concept -- cheesecake-type filling below with a lemon curd glaze on top. However, I like your layer idea.

        1. re: Indy 67

          It's this link, only I spread lemon curd on top after the cream cheese layer is baked.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4493...

          I like this because it's a very thin layer of cream cheese filling. I also like it w/ the apples (not both apples and lemon) or pears. It's a great base for a number of desserts. Great w/ chocolate ganache, too.

          1. re: chowser

            I've never seen a recipe quite like this, thanks for sharing!

            1. re: chowser

              My recipe calls for cream cheese combined sour cream for the "cheesecake" layer. Here's my version without the portion of the recipe for the lemon curd topping:

              Devonshire Lemon Pie

              favorite piecrust recipe for one crust (See note)
              2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
              3/4 cup sugar
              2 eggs
              1 cup (8 oz. carton) sour cream
              1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
              1/4 teaspoon vanilla

              Lemon Curd Glaze (recipe omitted)

              Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

              Prepare recipe for favorite pie crust and fit into a 9-inch pie plate.

              Soften cream cheese in a large bowl; beat in sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then add sour cream, lemon rind and juice, and vanilla. Blend well. Pour into prepared crust.

              Bake 25 minutes, or until filling is set and pastry is lightly golden. Cool completely in pie plate on a wire rack.

              While pie cools, make Lemon Curd Glaze. When Lemon Curd is cool, spread over the top of pie. Chill until serving time.

              Note: I like a graham cracker crust more than a conventional pie crust.

              1. re: Indy 67

                That sounds good, too. The sour cream sounds like a nice addition.

              2. re: chowser

                Chowser, I plan on using this recipe that you provided but, in at least one of the mini tarts, I'm going to try substituting rhubarb filling in place of the lemon curd.

                1. re: Sam D.

                  That sounds really good. If you do it and it's good, can you post your rhubarb filling? Thanks!

          2. Have the hosts requested / accepted an offer from you to bring dessert? If not, be sure to speak with them about their / your plans. Especially with something like a lemon cheesecake tart that will require refrigeration, an additional item may not be practical. (I know my own refrigerator is at max-capacity when hosting a holiday meal.)

            I detest thyme or rosemary with lemon desserts. For me they don't add a layer of flavor but instead spoil what otherwise was a perfectly good treat.

            Do your hosts know you well enough to trust your canning / jam-making skills? We accepted a jar as a gift from my husband's co-worker but, frankly, were so uneasy about whether food-safety standards were properly maintained that we tossed it. A freezer/refrigerator jam might be a good option. Or simply bring the more traditional chocolates, wine or flowers.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MidwesternerTT

              i agree about adding herbs to lemon desserts. am not a fan. i do like incorporating almond meal into the tart crust though.

              you can also simply bring jarred lemon curd as a gift, since it doesn't require canning to be food-safe.

              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                Yes, my Aunt who is hosting requested a lemon dessert.
                I love thyme with lemon, but you're right to point out that others may not like it...

              2. I made Thomas Keller's Lemon Sabayon Tart for Easter last year and it was stellar. The crust has a pine nut base. Recipe is online here: http://www.petitmiamx.com.au/2012/05/...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Aravisea

                  This looks very good. I'm allergic to pine nuts, so if I make this recipe maybe I'll substitute with almond meal....

                  1. re: eviemichael

                    I'm sure any crust you made would be delicious. The key is the filling - now I want to make one!

                2. for the gift, are you wanting something that you make? if not, what about some umami paste? like taste no 5 or vanilla beans. I find the vanilla beans are often overpriced for many people to stock. But nice to have on hand. If you want to make something. You could infuse and oil or vinegar with herbs and garlic.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    Yes, I wanted to make something homemade. Flavored oil is a nice idea, but I live in Greece and everyone is so attached to their particular olive oil.

                    1. re: eviemichael

                      In that case, I made a great bacon and onion jam this year for myself, think I might make it for gifts in the future. Not sure how well this would work in Greece, but if you are interested in the recipe let me know.

                      1. re: cleopatra999

                        I'd like the recipe for myself!
                        I'll probably end up doing biscotti for the others.

                        1. re: eviemichael

                          I don't have exact recipe, if you need more clarification let me know.

                          cook diced bacon until rendered but not crispy
                          remove to plate, remove some of the oil
                          sweat salted thinly sliced onions until cooked through over med low heat.
                          add bacon back in and deglaze pan with bourbon or dark rum
                          add some maple syrup or other sweetener and water or beef/chick stock. I like to add Thyme and pepper
                          continue to cook on low - med low until it is all caramelized and liquid gone, at least one hour. Add more liquid if needed.
                          store in fridge (can be kept quite a while)
                          I like it slightly warmed, served on top of cracker and brie with a little fresh thyme. Great on burgers too.

                          1. re: cleopatra999

                            That sounds like heaven to me, thank you so much.

                  2. If you go with a filled tart, I can't recommend this lemon cream recipe from Pierre Herme (published by Dorie Greenspan, I think) highly enough. It is SO silky, and the lemon flavor and tartness come through loud and clear.

                    http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Oh, man...I think this one may have stole my heart. It's a little more high maintenance, but after reading all the comments it sounds divine!

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        That sounds amazing. I wonder if a good immersion blender would work. The danger w/ this recipe is that the lemon cream might not make it into the tart before I ate it all.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Seriously! I'm not counting weight watchers points on easter, that's for sure. :-/

                          1. re: chowser

                            I licked the blender clean the first time I made it - stuck my arm in up to the elbow to get every last bit scooped out. It is SO good, and dangerous because it doesn't taste overly buttery - just rich, yet light and SUPER lemony.

                            1. re: biondanonima

                              I think we've found a winner! Thank you so much.

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                One more question, biondanonima: Would strawberry sauce be a nice optional addition to this on the side? Or is it totally unnecessary? Thanks.

                                1. re: eviemichael

                                  I don't think you need it, but it would be pretty if you want a splash of color. Raspberry would work too.

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    Do you think it would be better to just cover the tart in fresh strawberries or make an actual sauce?

                                    Thanks!

                                    1. re: eviemichael

                                      I wouldn't put strawberries on the tart - make a sauce and keep it separate, for those who like their lemon unadulterated.

                                      1. re: biondanonima

                                        Thanks for all the help, I will report back after Easter. :)

                            2. re: biondanonima

                              I just now finished assembling this tart...I died and went to heaven once I tasted the filling!
                              Thanks so much for passing this recipe along, it's fantastic. I made a strawberry sauce to go with it on the side.

                              I did cut down on the butter a little bit, and it did not hurt the end result at all.

                              1. re: eviemichael

                                So glad you like it! I agree, the filling is sublime. I'm actually thinking of trying a rhubarb version this afternoon, but it could be dangerous - DH is out of town, so I'd have the whole blender to myself!

                                1. re: biondanonima

                                  I love rhubarb...stop giving me ideas! I already ate two large pieces of the lemon tart. :)

                                  Did you feel that the filling needed all of the butter?

                                  1. re: eviemichael

                                    When I made the lemon version, I followed the recipe exactly, so I can't really say whether it NEEDED all the butter - it was good that way, though! However, I made a rhubarb version today (it's cooling now) and I used just 8 tablespoons of butter to two eggs and about 1/2 cup of rhubarb puree, so a bit of a reduction from the recipe (which calls for 10.5 T. to two eggs). The texture seems perfect, so perhaps I'll try using a little less butter the next time I do the lemon.

                            3. Between the two, I would go with the whole tart over the curd filling. I have made the pink lemonade bars from Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/0... They were really tasty and pretty, and bars are easy for sharing.

                              I have these bookmarked, but have not made them: Almond Lemon Biscotti Dipped in White Chocolate http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                Biscotti is a great idea! I may just do that, thanks.

                              2. You could add a layer of dark chocolate between the pastry and the lemon filling, a la Suzanne Goin.

                                1. I love a lemon trifle with raspberries and whipped cream. It's my go-to spring party dessert. Angel food cake, limoncello, lemon curd, berries, cream, layer and repeat.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: sheiladeedee

                                    That's another fantastic idea. I just made Bastianich's limoncello tiramisu for the same crowd at a gathering I had a few months ago. Your version sounds like something I'd like even more (I'm a sucker for berries and cake).

                                    I've been asked to do something non-cakey- I think my Aunt thinks a tart will be more refreshing after eating a kilo of lamb each! ha....

                                  2. I have been wanting to make this Lemon Tart with Chocolate Almond Crust: http://savoringtimeinthekitchen.blogs...

                                    1. I think you've already decided on that decadent tart but if you want something light and decadent, I just remembered this lemon mascarpone mousse w/ raspberries. It's so pretty in a glass dish, with lace cookies on the side and something a little different (I got these recipes from cimui years ago here).

                                      Mascarpone mousse au citron with lace cookie garnish

                                      16 oz. Mascarpone cheese
                                      2/3 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar for the egg whites
                                      3 lemons
                                      zest of 1 lime
                                      5 eggs, separated

                                      1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until they are very pale.
                                      2. Beat in the mascarpone cheese, the lemon juice and the lime zest until very well combined.
                                      3. In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
                                      4. add the 1/4 cup of sugar into the whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
                                      5. Gently fold the whites into the mascarpone/lemon mixture until no streaks remain.
                                      6. Divide among 6 ramequins or other decorative bowls and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

                                      Lace Cookies

                                      1 c. oatmeal
                                      1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)
                                      3/4 c. sugar
                                      3 tbsp. flour
                                      1 tsp. baking powder
                                      1 egg

                                      Melt butter; add sugar and egg. Fold in dry ingredients. Drop onto oiled shiney side of foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes until light brown. Cool before removing foil, about 15 minutes.NOTE: Egg Beaters can be substituted. Baking time varies 5-8 minutes.To serve:Serve cold with an additional sprinkle of lime zest and a lemon peel twist.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: chowser

                                        This sounds so good as well...

                                        Why are you making my life difficult?? :-)

                                      2. For your gift to the hosting home, what about several logs of compound butter for the freezer? You may have made it before, but here's a link to a slide show on how to make and suggestions for using. Sweet and herbal variations.

                                        I've always wrapped it in plastic, then parchment or wax paper, then foil. They keep in a plastic freezer bag (with as much air squeezed out as possible for much longer than a month, in my experience. Nice to be able to slice off a coin or two when needed. Make the logs in 4-ounce portions, if you think your Aunt could use that much at one time.

                                        I've also used a ruler as a pusher to get the logs even.

                                        http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/04/ho...

                                        Cristos voskres!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: nemo

                                          Alithos anesti! :)

                                          Thanks for the idea. I think I'm going with almond-pistachio biscotti, but I will bookmark this idea for another time.