Friday, June 22, 2007

Tart Tart, Tang Tang.

As stated previously, I am a sucker for a good recipe and, if it features one of my favorite ingredients in an easy and delicious-sounding new form, there's a good likelihood that it'll end up in the "Gotta Try This" folder. When the Dining section of the New York Times ran an article a few months ago on lemons, they had me hooked. And since I'd recently purchased a non-stick tart pan, the description of the Lemon Confit Shortbread Tart made it a cut-it-out-right-now item even if everyone hadn't yet read the paper (sorry, honey...).

This one was particularly appealing to my lemon-loving self because the filling is no creamy compromise to less lemon-centric souls, but simply thinly sliced rind-and-all lemons with a touch of sugar, boiled down and sandwiched between two lightly lemon-scented crusts. It's enough to make even the most ardent lemon supporter's back teeth sing and it's incredibly good, especially served with fresh Hood strawberries and a dollop of Mio Gelato's Italian cream. Like the farro salad, it's going to be appearing with regularity on our summer table.

My friend Mary Fishback of Bread & Ink Cafe and the founding dessert maven behind Rimsky-Korsakoffee House made it with clementines and said it totally rocks, so come up with your own variation and let us know how it turns out. You (and your guests this summer) will be knocked out!

Lemon Confit Shortbread Tart
Originally from the New York Times Dining section

For the crust:
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
1 large egg
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. almond extract, or to taste
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the confit:
8 Meyer lemons, preferably thin-skinned and seedless, but regular organic lemons will work
3/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. water

For the crust, combine flour, salt, butter and 1 cup sugar in a bowl.  Mix with your fingers until it forms flaky crumbs and lumps. Mix in egg, almond extract and lemon juice. Continue to mix until it clumps; it may seem very dry at first. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day ahead of baking.

For the confit, slice off and discard ends of lemons. Slice 5 crosswise, peel and all, as thinly as possible. Remove any seeds and place in a bowl. Peel skin, including white pith, from remaining 3 lemons, then slice thinly crosswise and add to bowl. Add 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Toss and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Place lemon slices and their juice in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Cook down until lemons are candied and small amount of liquid in pan is sticky and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

To bake, preheat oven to 350°. Divide dough in half and form each half into a ball. Roll out one ball on a floured surface until large enough to fit into a 9-inch round tart pan. Dough will be crumbly (more shortbread than pie crust); if it falls apart, press it back together. Spoon Confit over crust, spreading evenly. Roll out second ball of dough and place on top, sealing edges but making sure no crust overlaps the rim or tart will be difficult to remove later.

Bake until edges of tart are lightly golden, about 35 minutes, then sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup sugar.  Return to oven for about 10 more minutes; edges should be lightly golden and crust cooked through but not browned.  Serve warm or cooled.

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