Whenever I need inspiration for recipes that I've never tried before I can rely on Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I pick up the heavy volume to take a quick look, and end up seated on the couch reading the section on fruit desserts like a novel. Then I go ahead and flip backwards for reference and become engrossed in custards, trying to hold my place on multiple pages so I won't forget what I wanted to make. This week I made lady fingers, light and airy with a dusting of powdered sugar. We gobbled them up way too fast. I also made a totally new tart from start to finish, which was quite a process since I made a different crust recipe. I had never made Julia's pie crust, so I gave it a whirl and had it ready in the fridge for baking day. It turned out to be fairly flaky and tasty, but as my husband put it, 'prohibitively tough.' It was difficult to cut with a fork, which made for undainty eating. I'm not sure if it was the dough, or if it had something to do with the filling. To be fair, the tart recipe called for a sweet crust, and this was a regular plain crust, so maybe there's something that I don't know here...
As I said, I was feeling rather uninspired when I came upon this particular recipe. The lemon lime factor won me over, but then I still didn't really want to actually get out all the bowls and cups and whisks and make the thing. I'll be honest, it took most of my afternoon but once I got going it turned out to be really fun! The whole process shook me out of my kitchen rut and got me cooking again.
I zested, juiced, cracked, whipped, simmered and folded until I had a magnificent puffy cloud of filling for my tart shell. Really, eggs are so amazing. The yolks can do wonderful rich creamy things, and the whites fluff to incredible mountain peaks of airy wonder. This tart has no cream or milk butterfat of any kind (not counting the crust) so all the texture and height comes from eggs and eggs alone.
So, I guess you could count this as your protein and have it for dinner. It is basically a souffle which is baked in a crust. The final product was a lovely lemon lime tart. It had a light flavor and airy texture. As it baked, it puffed up and then fell, but it was still velvety and soft when we ate it. The dessert got a thumbs up all around the dinner table, but I would use a different crust if I were going to make it again
Lemon or Lime Tart
1 pre- baked sweet pie crust
3/4 cup sugar separated into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
grated zest of 1 lemon or 2 limes or both
3 Tablespoons lemon or lime juice
pinch of salt
powdered sugar in a shaker
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
First, get out all your ingredients and wash the lemons or lime. Separate the eggs and place the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the yolks in a glass bowl or in the top of a double boiler if you have one. Add the 1/2 cup sugar to the egg yolks and immediately stir it vigorously. Do not let the sugar sit on the yolks without stirring or it will make yucky hard little lumps. Using a whisk or hand beater, whip the yolks and sugar until they are thick, creamy and pale yellow in color. Place the glass bowl with the beaten egg yolks and sugar over a small pan of barely simmering water. Continue stirring frequently. While this is heating up, zest the lemons and/or lime and add it to the mix, then add the juice and continue stirring everything together. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as you stir and do not let the water underneath come to a rolling boil or you will end up with a custard full of scrambled eggs. This mixture needs to heat up until it coats the back of a spoon and is too hot to dip your finger in. This direction seems a little vague to me, so you can check for a temp of 165 degrees with a thermometer if you wish.
While this is heating, get the egg whites going in an electric mixer with the pinch of salt. This is when a stand mixer comes in really handy. I was able to move back and forth between stirring the custardy egg yolks on the stovetop and the whipping whites in the KitchenAid. After the whites become fairly fluffy and stiff, add the 1/4 cup sugar gradually and continue beating until they form stiff peaks.
Now you are ready for the final step. Take the custard off the heat and grab a rubber spatula. Add a scoop of the whites to the custard and fold it in to lighten it up. Then add all the custard to the whites and gently fold it all together. It will be light and fluffy and puffy. Turn it all into the pie crust and smooth it around a little. Don't worry if it seems like it wont fit. Just pile it on. Bake in the middle level of the oven for 30 minutes. When it has begun to puff and color about half way through cooking, carefully pull it out and dust with powdered sugar. The tart is done when the top is lightly brown and a knife plunged into the center comes out clean.
This may be served immediately, warm or cold, but is especially scrumptious when still hot.