February is the beginning of the long birthday season at our house. From February to May we have 1-2 birthdays a month around here. On average this leads me to make 8 cakes and 60 cupcakes over the whole season since there is a family party, a friend party and a classroom party with cupcakes for every person. (Jeepers. Now that I have written that out, it does seem out of control! I may have to rethink this…)
Birthday season could be a pretty long slog for me, baking cake after cake after cupcake, so I have to mix it up and take some chances. Often I make things for the first time for the night of the party, sometimes without a real recipe. I would hate to get bored and I never have time to make a test version. Anyway since I was writing last time about not ever being bored in my kitchen, I thought I should write about how I made this dessert: Meyer Lemon and White Chocolate Curd Tart in a Macadamia Nut Crust.
Obviously this is not the first Meyer lemon and white chocolate concoction. Surely not the first in a macadamia nut crust. It wasn’t actually even a recipe, but a compilation of the tart crust I had left from Christmas in the freezer, Meyer lemons – whose tangy sweetness I love to play with in their short winter season, and one of Martin’s favorite sweets, white chocolate. This tart was delicious and so pretty. The high bright lemon notes soothed by creamy vanilla in the chocolate with a rich base flavor of macadamias. The best part though, was playing with all the pieces: the stashed crust, the seasonal fruit, the favorite ingredient. I like to imagine a jazz ensemble playing around with sound and start thinking about making food that way. All the fun is in the improvising.
We ate the last pieces of this tart with large bowls of cafe au lait the following morning in bed. How I love birthday dessert with coffee when I wake up the next day! (especially if I’m also reading a good book) If you haven’t tried this, I recommend that you do as soon as the next birthday rolls around.
Meyer Lemon & White Chocolate Curd Tart in a Macadamia Nut Crust
Read the whole recipe through before starting. There is nothing complicated about any of it. It just requires a small amount of planning.
Macadamia Nut Crust (you must allow the tart dough to rest in the pan for at least 4 hours before baking – really the best thing is to just plan ahead and make it in advance – or have one stashed like I did!)
- 3/4 c. unsalted raw macadamia nuts
- 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter, in small cubes, very very cold. (I cut it into small pieces first and then stash it in the freezer until it is time to blend)
- 1 large egg yolk, also very cold
- Combine the nuts and the sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse quickly and carefully until the nuts are finely ground. Careful! Don’t over process and make nut butter.
- Add the flour and pulse once or twice to blend.
- Add the cold butter and pulse for 10-20 seconds – until the pieces of butter are the size of large peas.
- Add the egg yolk and pulse for 7 seconds, until the mixture just begins to come together.
- Put all the crumbly dough into a bowl and knead together until the dough is uniformly moist. There should be no streaks of flour or egg. Don’t overwork and only use your fingertips so you don’t melt the butter. If the butter melts, the dough won’t be flaky. Don’t let this scare you and prevent you from trying! Tarts are very fun to make.
- Press the crumble into a 9″ square tart pan with a removable bottom. The dough should be evenly pressed with no bare patches. I try to get a generous 1/4″ at the rim of the tart pan for structural stability.
- Wrap the tart pan with plastic wrap and chill for at east 4 hours or overnight. (the shell can be frozen at this point for up to a month. No need to thaw when needed. Just proceed to baking)
- To bake the tart shell, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Place a large piece of parchment over the crust and fill the entire shell with pie weights (if you have them) or use dried beans (I have a box of garbanzo and black beans that I have used as pie weights for several years. If you use dried beans, never try to cook them later – they’ll be terrible.) Place the tart shell on a baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are dry and just beginning to color.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully lift out the parchment and dried beans. Watch especially as you pull the parchment off the base of the tart as it will still be quite moist and fragile. I have patched back in any pieces that I accidentally pull off but I hate to do it!
- Return the sheet with the tart shell to the oven for 7-10 minutes until the pastry looks dry and is pale gold.
- Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Meyer Lemon and White Chocolate Curd
- 5 eggs
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2/3 c. Meyer lemon juice
- 5 ounces finely chopped white chocolate – I used Green and Black’s which has dense flecks of vanilla bean
- optional: the seeds from one vanilla bean – if you use another brand of chocolate
- 1 pint of raspberries
- powdered sugar
- Beat the eggs in the bowl of a double boiler or a pyrex bowl that fits into a saucepan.
- Beat in the sugar, the lemon juice and the seeds of the vanilla bean if using.
- Whisk the ingredients until thickened over the simmering water in the saucepan. Do not let the bowl touch the water.
- In about 5 minutes, the mixture should have thickened to the consistency of pudding.
- Whisk in the pieces of white chocolate until the mixture is smooth.
- Immediately pour the curd into the prepared cooled tart shell.
- Cool at least 4 hours at room temperature before garnishing and serving.
- Garnish with a pint of washed and carefully dried raspberries. I start by placing one raspberry in each corner. Then one half way between each corner and so on. Then all the berries are placed evenly around the edge. Finally dust the tart with powdered sugar.