Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cake of the Week: Citrus Tart

Winter can be dreary. Gray skies, freezing rain, icy winds and swirls of snow. I wear full length dark coats on top of sweaters, knee socks under boots, tights under jeans. I can’t resist sleeping in late, curled under blankets, dreading the outside.

And winter food can be just as heavy and dark. Gone are the days of a light summer salad – instead we have chilis and stews, big bowls and steaming pasta. But there is a bright light in this mid-January darkness. It’s sweet and juicy, brilliant and sunny, and it’s only in season in the winter! This is Mother Nature’s consolation prize in a food-scape of kale, parsnips, and all those canned/frozen/preserved relics of summer and fall.

Ta-DA! I give you the glorious grapefruit! In a Citrus Tart! It’s radiantly shiny, bringing light and joy to an otherwise gray January.

Grapefruit, named for how it grows in bunches, is a notoriously healthy breakfast, scooped out of its peel with a serrated spoon. But there is so much more to this tangy fruit than just a non-fat snack! Try it on a tart? Peeled and sectioned on top of buttery crust and rich citrus curd (or custard – call it what you will – the difference is in the quantity of citrus juice - curd has more).

I combined my grapefruit with oranges, to mellow it out a bit and add some extra color, but pure grapefruit would be fine too.

This recipe was inspired by Southern Living. I made Sprinkle Bakes’ tart crust, and then followed the Southern Living recipe for the rest of it. It was actually very easy – just a little time-consuming. Keep in mind that you have to make the dough, then chill it. Then cook the crust and cool it. Also, the Buttery Citrus Curd is supposed to chill for 8 hours! But mine only did for about 2 hours, and it turned out fine.

PhotoMan came over to hang out...and I may have made him go home to retrieve his camera (what can I say? This was too good a food-photography opportunity to pass up!). Plus a non-chocolate citrus dessert is exactly his sort of thing. This tart makes a great dessert, afternoon, snack, and could even be served at brunch!

Citrus Tart

Tart shell:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Liberally butter a 11" tart or quiche pan and set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add butter pieces and pulse until fine crumbs form.  Add yolk, vanilla and water.  Pulse in quick bursts until dough forms a ball.  Press dough into buttered pan (flour hands if your dough is sticky). Chill shell for 40 minutes.
After chilling, prick the tart shell with a fork and bake for 20 minutes.  Let shell cool completely before filling.

Buttery Orange Curd (Filling) - (Looks kinda gross, tastes fantastic!)
Total: 8 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: Makes about 2 cups
2/3  cup  sugar
2 1/2  tablespoons  cornstarch
1 1/3  cups  orange juice (I used pulp-free)
1  large egg, lightly beaten
3  tablespoons  butter
2  teaspoons  orange zest
Pinch of salt
1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a 3-qt. saucepan; gradually whisk in orange juice. Whisk in egg. Bring to a boil; boil, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, zest, and salt. Place heavy-duty plastic wrap directly on curd (to prevent a film from forming), and chill 8 hours. Store leftovers in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Tart Assembly
Peel and section about 5-9 assorted citrus fruits (See below for how to section citrus - it's harder than it looks on TV!). The amount of fruit depends on their size - I used 3 large grapefruit, and 4 oranges.

Spread Buttery Orange Curd over completely cooled crust. 
Top with citrus sections.

How to Section Citrus:
1. Cut off top and bottom.

2. Cut off peels on the sides so that fruit is exposed.

3. Carefully cut along the skin between sections to get the fruit out in sections without any white stuff attached.