Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sunshine and Lemon Cream Shooters.

Lemons are one of my all time favorite fruits to cook and bake with, especially when it's the star of dessert.  For me, each bite of lemony goodness seems to promise warmer weather and magically transport me back to the happy times of my childhood.  Recently, I was lucky enough to be gifted with a couple of Dorie Greenspan recipe books from my favorite West coast cousin, Lori (yep, thee Lori from Tales) and I knew, without a doubt when I stumbled upon Dorie's favorite lemon cream recipe, originally derived from Pierre Herme, that would be the first recipe I would try. 

I waffled between making a fruit-topped lemon tart and something on a smaller scale for Easter holiday.  I decided to make petite lemon shooters with a shortbread cookie crust.  The end result was a bit of an epiphany...the clouds parted, the sun peeked through and angels started singing.  Okay, maybe not, but the lemon cream is deliciously lighter and fluffier than a traditional lemon curd and the slightly salty-sweet cookie crumbs are a fabulous foil for the tartness of the lemons.  In one word: heavenly...but don't take my word for it!  Try it yourself!

Here's the recipe below
(i'm eating a shooter for breakfast right now....)

Shortbread Cookie Recipe (via Joy of Baking):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).  Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch circle, making one big cookie.  Place on prepared baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cookie is lightly browned (I checked it at 10 minutes).  Cool on a wire rack.  When cool, crush the cookie to a fine-textured crumb.

Lemon Cream Recipe (via Dorie Greenspan at Serious Eats):

1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (21 tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and   cut into tablespoon-sized pieces


Have a thermometer, preferably an instant-read, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at the ready. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Off heat, work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice.

Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes. 

As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.

Hint: The lemon cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Vanilla Whipped Cream Recipe (see here, via Two Tarts)
handful of roughly chopped pistacios

Assembling directions:

Line up about 10-15 shot glasses (depending on size).  In each glass, place about 2-3 teaspoons cookie crust or to your preference and pat down gently.  Next, place 2-3 teaspoons of lemon cream over the crumb crust, wiping any tracks on the side of the glass with a damp paper towel.  Repeat layers.  Dollop or pipe whipped cream on the final layer and sprinkle with pistacios. 

(photo via Vanilla and Lace)
*Special thanks to Lori for the wonderful cookbooks and Luisa for always pointing me in
the right direction- this time for the shortbread cookies!

Posted by Dawn.

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