Fruit Curd Tartlets

[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s website, but you can find many recipes for fruit curd, tart dough, and meringue if you simply search there.  Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

These are quite good, almost entirely due to the fruit curd, which is absolutely delicious.

The MSBH’s recipe for tart dough provides the pastry for the individual shells. These are shaped into tartlet pans, pricked, and chilled before blind baking.

Once baked, the shells slip out of the pans quite easily. I stacked them and stored them in an airtight container overnight, allowing me to split the time the recipe takes over two days.

The MSBH contains four different recipes for fruit curd (lemon, lime, grapefruit, and passion fruit). I opted to make two of the flavors: lemon and grapefruit.

The eggs, sugar, fruit juice, and zest are cooked about 10 minutes until thick and bubbly, then removed from the heat.  Butter and salt are stirred in.

The curd is then strained.

The grapefruit version has some extra grapefruit zest mixed in at the end. Even though I made it with red grapefruit juice, the curd still cooks up quite yellow. It was indistinguishable from the lemon curd except for the pieces of grapefruit zest mixed in.

Once strained it is refrigerated to set.  It’s a very easy process and resulted in smooth, pretty, unbelievably delicious fruit curd. I wanted to just eat it all up with a spoon! (Both flavors were amazing; if I had to pick a favorite I would say the grapefruit was a little bit better.)

Once the curd had set, I filled the tart shells. The recipe says to use a pastry bag to pipe the filling into the shells, but I simply used a spoon.

Then I made the meringue topping by cooking egg whites, sugar and salt in my heatproof mixer bowl and then whipping the cooked mixture on high speed.

The meringue is then transferred to a pastry bag so that it can be piped onto the tartlets.

Much as with icing and cake decoration, my meringue-making skills and application method leave a lot to be desired. It’s simply an area of baking I don’t have a lot of experience in.

The meringue is the browned with either a pastry torch or the oven broiler. I opted to use my toaster oven’s broiler and it worked quite well.

If I were catering an event for Specialized Cycles, this “design” would have almost seemed like it was done on purpose.

Okay, so as I mentioned above, the fruit curd here is amazing. The tart shells are okay (I would have preferred a sweeter crust like a cookie crust of some kind.  The meringue is okay as well (I would have preferred a light whipped cream) but the fruit curd – the fruit curd is out of this world.

Key Lime Tart

[I could not find this exact recipe on Martha’s website, but you can find a very, very similar one right here – please let me know if you make it and what you think! Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

Key Lime Pie is a perfect summer dessert so I was looking forward to making this tart version.

The crust is made with the dough from the MSBH’s recipe for Graham Crackers. This dough is shaped into a tart pan and blind-baked. The recipe calls for a 9-inch flan ring but I don’t have one of those, so I just used a tart pan. I should also point out that the recipe calls for you to roll out the graham cracker dough like a pie crust and form in the pan but I think anyone who has made the MSBH’s recipe for graham cracker dough can agree, that’s just impossible. It’s not that kind of dough.

The filling is incredibly easy – a combination of egg yolks, key lime juice, zest, sweetened condensed milk, and salt.

The filling goes into the baked tart shell and is smoothed/evened out. Then into the oven to bake just a little longer to set.

Because the tart had already browned significantly on the first bake, I used silicone rims to keep the crust from getting any darker. I really like these, they do exactly what they claim to do and can be arranged to fit any size circular pie or tart.

While the tart was cooling, I prepared the candied key lime slices for the garnish. I used my mandoline to create thin, uniform slices.

These then cook in a simmering pot of sugar water for about 45 minutes and then dry on a rack.

And then it is just a matter of arranging the slices on the tart. I copied the photo from the MSBH, simply lining up the slices around the perimeter of the tart.

The candied key lime slices taste god-awful, by the way. Lovely for a garnish, disgusting for a food.

So the verdict on this is: Eh, it’s okay. The quality of my key limes left something to be desired, so that had a lot to do with my lackluster results, but even so this isn’t anything spectacular. A simpler crust made with graham cracker crumbs and butter would be much better than this one made with the dough. And using regular limes (which the recipe says you can do) would have produced a subtler, more enjoyable flavor too I think.

The recipe instructs you to make some whipped cream as a garnish and it’s a good idea. You need something sweet to counter the tartness of the filling (mine actually tasted just plain bitter).

Some notes:

  • If you use the recipe for Graham Crackers from the MSBH for the crust, only use as little of it as you possibly need to make a thin crust. It just isn’t an easy dough to work with and, because I used too much, my crust was thick and tough – not good at all.
  • The candied key lime slices really do amp up the eye-appeal of the tart but if you don’t need to impress anyone, don’t bother. You certainly aren’t going to want to eat them.
  • The whipped cream is a must. The tart itself is not very sweet and I have always found that key limes impart a definite bitter aftertaste to things. That may just be me or the poor quality of key limes available in Wyoming, but I’d feel remiss not mentioning it.

[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s site to link to. Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

If you have some pâte brisée on hand, this recipe goes by pretty quickly. You will have to pit and destem the cherries, but you could use frozen cherries in a pinch (although when it comes to cherries for pie, I really do think fresh is best. They keep their shape better instead of turning all to mush).

I have been looking for sour cherries for the past three years to no avail. I look for them everywhere – not just in Laramie. Wherever I go, there are no fresh (or frozen) sour cherries to be had. So I finally decided to use sweet cherries and cut the amount of sugar in the recipe down from 1.5 cups to 1/4 cup. The cherries and sugar are mixed together along with some cornstarch and balsamic vinegar and poured into a ceramic baking dish.

Some pâte brisée (pie crust dough) is rolled out and strips are cut for the lattice and weaved on top of the cherries.

Once the top is done the edges are trimmed and tucked inside the edge of the dish. The whole thing goes into the freezer for about 30 minutes to chill.

After chilling thoroughly, the top is brushed with an egg-cream wash and sprinkled with sanding sugar.

It bakes up for about an hour and that’s all there is to it!

The flavor is wonderful. I imagine it would have a lot more depth with the sour cherries, but even with the sweet cherries it was pretty darn tasty. I love the balsamic vinegar flavor and of course, with the MSBH’s pâte brisée you cannot go wrong. It is always so buttery and flaky.  I also appreciate how simple and pretty it is in a plain white baking dish. A lovely, quick (if you have the pie crust on-hand), and delicious dessert perfect for summer cook-outs.

Lime-Glazed Cookies

[You can find this recipe on Martha’s website right here – please let me know if you make them and what you think! Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

These have the makings of a great little summer cookie but they are, in the end, quite underwhelming. I think a light, buttery citrus-glazed cookie is a fantastic idea but these fail to deliver. Very ‘meh’.

Pretty easy recipe with simple butter cookie ingredients plus items for a super-simple lime glaze.

Have I mentioned here how much I love zesting citrus? Oh, I have? Have I included a photo of beautiful citrus zest here before? Oh, once or twice, I have? Well, here’s another.

The cookie dough comes together very easily and it is shaped into a rectangular log that is chilled thoroughly. A lot like the Icebox Butter Cookies, only square-shaped this time.

Using parchment paper really helped me shaped the dough with flat sides. Now getting all the corners to be 90-degrees was another matter entirely.

Once I had the log shaped I wrapped it in parchment paper and then wrapped and sealed it in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out. Then, into the fridge.

After chilling, it is just a matter of slicing the individual cookies. I was rushed here and it shows. I am disappointed in myself for this. It’s the little things that matter in baking – the attention to detail. My cookies were not evenly sliced and did not bake evenly and it was my haste during this step that led to that. Patience is not something I’ve had in large supply lately.

You can really see how difficult it was for me to get a rectangular log with square corners in this shot of the individual cookies pre-bake. This was hard! I’d get three corners squared but then the fourth would always elude me. Trying to square it would cause a different corner to go round.

Then it is just a matter of baking them, letting them cool, and preparing the glaze which is essentially powdered sugar and lime zest and water.

So a very easy recipe with some tricky parts. I thought about trying to raise the oompf factor on these somehow, like making them into sandwich cookies or making a thicker frosting for the tops. I also think they’d be great with any citrus flavor – lemon, grapefruit, or orange.

Caraway Cheese Crisps

[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s site to link to. Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

These are great!

The dough comes together fairly quickly; nothing too complicated here.

Into the dry ingredients go butter and mascarpone cheese.

And what you get is a nice, soft, buttery dough.

You halve the dough and flatten into two discs, wrap, and chill.

These are then rolled out into the sheets from which you’ll cut the crisps. It wasn’t easy for me to roll it out – the dough cracks and sticks, at least it did for me. The thinner the dough, the better, I think, so I would recommend making four smaller discs and really rolling them from the center out with as much strength as you’ve got.

The smaller discs would yield smaller sheets as well, so you wouldn’t have to trim the edges before putting them on a pan to chill in the freezer.

After chilling in the freezer, you prepare the dough sheets for cutting and baking.  They are brushed with an egg wash, cut into angular pieces, and then sprinkled with caraway seeds and course salt.

Into the oven they go and it’s smooth sailing from here. They bake up so nicely, getting golden brown around the edges.

These are certainly a savory “cookie,” but would still make for a great dessert item. They remind me a lot of pumpernickel bread because of the caraway but they also have such a rich, buttery flavor that are solidly in the “treat” category for me. You can also get a bit of the tang from the mascarpone cheese.

The texture is flaky and crisp on the outside. The thinner the crisp, the crispier it is. The thicker it is, the more like a dense cookie it is.

The recipe makes a lot of them too, so be sure you’ve got a bunch of people to share them with. I was kind of shocked at how many you end up with. And after a day or two they aren’t as good, so eat them up quickly.


Icebox Butter Cookies

[I could not find this recipe on Martha’s site to link to. Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

I baked these ages ago and cannot entirely recall the process. I should not allow so much time to pass between baking and writing these posts.

Good news is, it wasn’t that complicated a recipe although it was time-consuming. A simple butter cookie dough, shaped and wrapped in parchment and chilled and then sliced and baked. That last sentence could be the entire post.

You start with ingredients.

The ingredients are mixed into dough, which is halved.

Half of the dough is mixed with finely chopped pecan pieces. There’s also a chocolate option or pistachio in the MSBH.

The doughs are rolled into logs, which is easy if you use a gentle touch and work quickly in order to keep the dough from getting too soft.

The logs are rolled in sanding sugar (for the plain dough) and more fine pecan pieces (for the pecan dough).

Then the logs are wrapped in parchment paper and placed in empty paper towel tubes before going into the fridge (“icebox”) to chill. The paper towel tubes are an ingenious way of keep the bottoms from going flat while chilling. That was a great tip, Martha.

After chilling, the logs are de-tubed and unwrapped and sliced into the individual cookies.

These go on to a parchment lined baking sheet and into the oven.

And that’s that.  These are not the greatest cookies – nothing to write home about and a lot of work for how ho-hum they are. You could easily fancy them up, however, by working with different add-ins or making unique designs by folding/rolling together different types of doughs.

Angel Food Cake

[I could not find the MSBH recipe online but this one is almost identical and will probably give you the same results I got here.  Here’s why I don’t include the recipes in my posts.]

I am not a fan of angel food cake, never have been. It always seemed like a delicious piece of white wedding cake got inflated with too much air.  I like my cake dense.

I was wondering if Martha’s recipe would turn me into a fan. I’ve never had homemade angel food cake (that I can recall) and so many of the MSBH’s recipes have made me a believer in items that store-bought versions had long convinced me I didn’t like.  Graham Crackers, I’m looking at you.

So I took this all on very earnestly.

You start with some very fine sugar and flour and sift them together several times.

Some more sugar is beat into a bunch of egg whites, along with cream of tartar and salt and vanilla to make the meringue base for the cake.

In a big bowl this resulting egg white mixture is gradually folded in with the sifted sugar/flour mixture to finalize the cake batter.  This takes some time and technique – the flour mixture is sifted atop the egg mixture in six portions, folding in between each one.

There are a lot of handy videos out there about how to fold together these ingredients.

Once the batter is done it is poured into an ungreased angel food cake pan.

It doesn’t take long to bake. I hated the smell of it – like tons of overcooked eggs.

The cake cools inverted and because my pan lacks little feet, I had to balance it on a bottle. This stressed me out and I kept going to the kitchen to make sure it didn’t fall down and break apart.

It worked out just fine, though, so in the end I had a perfect cohesive angel food cake.

It was not the easiest thing to depan. Using a knife to run around the edge is a must but I also found I had to “toss” it up and down with sharp jerking movements, quickly pulling down as soon as I felt the weight of the cake lift on the upswing. Does that make sense? I was trying to get it to release from the bottom of the pan, as I had no way of running the knife there.  This worked, but you can see below just how much the cake wants to stick to the pan.

Okay, so was I converted to angel food cake? No. This version is much lighter and softer and airier than the store-bought versions I’ve had, which is probably preferable, but the flavor is much same: stickily sweet with nothing but sugar to taste. I don’t like desserts like this so of course, I didn’t like it.

I think if you are a fan of angel food cake, however, you will really dig this. It’s pretty classically angel food and certainly there’s nothing wrong with it if you like that sort of thing.