Easter desserts, happy spring and one more chocolate babka

Happy Easter everyone.  Steve and I are in our second spring since our move back to Grand Rapids, and this has been the first burst of color in our little garden two years in a row.  The lovely primrose - ahhhhhhh.  

Our day began misty, windy and overcast and is winding down with glorious sunshine, lovely breezes and no humidity.  We'll take it, thank you very much.

We spent the afternoon with the Galloway and TenHave clan for a delicious Easter dinner and good conversation and companionship.  Thanks Scott and Jen - you're the best!

Of course I simply had to make dessert for the gathering, and what better flavor to choose than something lusciously LEMON.  

I turned to that tried and true (and now my favorite tarte au citron) recipe from Jacques Genin, topping it with a thin layer of crème Chantilly and some fresh raspberries.

A good lemon tart is one of THE best things in the pastry world à mon avis, but I wanted to throw something else into the mix for the holiday meal.  I'd been thinking about coconut and chocolate and ended up following Alice Medrich's coconut chocolate meringue recipe in her book "Flavor Flours" (a recent and exciting discovery for me). What better way to use up some of those egg whites I had sitting in the fridge.

Make a basic meringue, taking it to stiff peaks.

Fold in a delightful mixture of chopped dark and white chocolate, coarsely chopped roasted, lightly salted almonds and coconut chips (the smaller bowl below is for sprinkling on the top of the scooped meringues).

Portion out generous tablespoons of meringue mixture onto parchment lined sheets, then sprinkle additional chocolate/nut/coconut mix on top.

Bake at 200ºF for 1.5 hours, then turn oven off and let cool completely.

Crispy, crunchy, nutty with almonds and coconut, chocolate chunks - what more does one need in a bite size treat? These are downright tasty.

I declare this a winning dessert day - yay!

But before I go, here's one final note. 

Just when you thought you'd heard the end of the whole babka thing, I'll finish up with one more experience with that oh-so-intriguing subject.  I baked one more babka the other day as part of a trial for an Easter class I was preparing to teach at the Breton Sur La Table here in Grand Rapids.  The process went well, the dough felt great, the plaits looked pretty good (in spite of a bit of messiness with the chocolate filling), and it went into the pan without much of a hitch.

It baked a bit longer than I expected but came out a deep golden brown and smelling heavenly.

The swirls were okey-dokey when sliced too.

And you know what? Delicious.

I promise that's it for this year's babka session. Enough.

Happy spring everyone and thanks for reading "Baking with The French Tarte". I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.

Lemon-lime tart

As I mentioned in a recent post on fresh fruit tarts, I had a blind-baked pâte brisée shell in my freezer just waiting to be filled.  I was thinking lemon.

Before the Christmas holidays I had purchased a bunch of Meyer lemons, regular lemons and limes to use as table decor as well as to have on hand for baking. Since I had way more fruit on hand than I would use up efficiently, I proceeded to zest it, freeze the zest, juice the whole lot and freeze the juice too. Always on the prowl for the perfect lemon tart, I tried to track down the recipe for Jacques Genin's famous tarte au citron. I found a couple of recipe versions online as well as a video of Jacques himself preparing said tarte.  Unfortunately the video did NOT include the specific ingredient portions.  Oh well.

Update! I subsequently got my hands on his book on lemon tarts compliments of a student who was in one of my classes at Sur La Table. It’s small, in French and includes many versions of citrus tart. It’s great! But alas very difficult to get one’s hands on in the USA.

While his tart is made with limes, I opted for a lemon-lime combo. I already had my blind-baked crust.

The lemon-lime filling is made with 3 large eggs, 170 grams sugar, 180 ml juice (half lemon, half lime for me), zest of 6 fruits (Meyer lemon, lemon and lime combo for me) and 200 grams butter.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a saucepan, add the zest and juice and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken and is just short of boiling (I took it to ~83º C).  You should start seeing fine little bubbles forming around the edges and steam starting to rise up.

Remove it from the heat and blend the butter in with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy.

Since my crust had been in the freezer, I took it out about 30 minutes ahead and warmed it in a 325ºF oven for about 5 minutes.

One approach to a lemon tart is to make the curd, chill it and then fill the blind baked shell with the already chilled curd. Then it goes back into the fridge for additional chilling. Another is to fill the shell with the warm curd, cover the surface with plastic wrap and put the whole thing in the fridge to chill. Even another is to fill the warm shell with the warm curd and put it in the oven at 300-325ºF for about 10 minutes to further "set " the filling.

That's what I did with this one.

before the oven

after the oven

Believe me - the number of ways to approach a lemon tart is as many as the number of lemon tart recipes you'll find out there.  Yes, it's true.  I've tried 'em all (almost).

Once the tart cooled to room temp, I popped it (covered) in the fridge overnight.

We taste tested it the following day as our luncheon dessert at cousin Jen Galloway's house in the woods.  Oh how creamy, tart and lemony it was.  And the pâte brisée crust was PERFECT with it.

Another winner!