I love to cook.
Baking is further down the list on the things I like to do. Don't get me wrong, I like to bake, but baking is more like rocket science... Whereas cooking on the other hand is more my speed... seat of the pant style... like race car driving in the dessert. I always wanted to be a race car driver.
Another one of my favorite things to do is to read cookbooks. Though I rarely follow a recipe. Reading cookbooks is a pleasure, there is always a happy ending. Cookbooks inspire me. The mingling of spices, the concoctions of grains make my taste-buds tingle, inspiration rattles my bones, then I jump up, and create. It is best if I do not read cookbooks before going to bed... though I usually do.
Midnight snacks are the results.
I have been craving lemon tarts. My mother tells a story of when she was first married, and my father asked for a lemon pie. When my father saw that she used packaged pudding he said (one of the worse things a husband can say....), "My mother never used packaged pudding, she made everything from scratch!"
My mother called her mother-in-law for the lemon pie recipe-- Only to hear the key ingredient was in the form of packaged pudding.
My father never heard the end of it, and ate his words with a packaged pudding ever-after.
Since my son Sacha is good with exact details I roped him in to cutting the lemon rind into paper thin, zest strips. All the while he was inventing lemon zest tools in his head. I didn't want to spoil his fun and tell him I have two... One in the drawer and one in front of my eyes. The zest-er (is there such a word?) in the kitchen drawer could never replace watching Sacha's artwork.
At one point Sacha said, "Look mom the USA with a extra large Florida. The two other specks are Hawaii and Alaska."
The extra large Florida made lovely, long, lemon, zest strips.
All this is to say, packaged lemon pudding is not something you can find in the French grocery store (Or at least not in my little village,) and I was craving a lemon tart. ( The French grocery store might not have packaged lemon pudding, but a two minute walk from my front door, there is a pastry shop, and lemon tarts are ready made.
Call me crazy. Crazy girl wanted to make her own and to satisfy her lemon craving, she wanted them to be extra tart in taste and home made.
After reading a few recipes for lemon tarts: I closed the books, grabbed a bowl, shunned the cornstarch and milk ingredient, and roped Sacha into zesting the lemons.
In a saucepan melt three tablespoons of butter, with four heaping tablespoons of sugar and three tablespoons of finely, chopped, lemon zest. Melt slowly over low heat, stirring often, until creamy and pulling away from the sides of the pan.
Set the mixture aside to cool off. While it is cooling, whip until frothy two egg whites.
Add two egg yolks to the cooled-off, butter-sugar mixture, stir until smooth and creamy. Then add the juice of two lemons (A cup's worth at least.) and continue to stir often over low heat. Add the egg whites, keep stirring over low heat. Do not boil.
At the last minute I added a few tablespoons of cream. Eventually, the lemon mixture starts to thicken and seems to double in size. Turn off the heat.
I used puff pastry dough, because the French grocery stores have the best ever selection of ready made pie doughs... and they are flaky perfection without the stress.
Cut the puff pastry into small rounds, I used a juice glass. Then in a cupcake pan, I put parchment paper and pressed the round puff pastry dough into place. Next I added a heaping tablespoon of the lemon mixture onto each round. (Makes 12 Lemon Tarts.)
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for five minutes.
Note: Maybe cup cake papers would work just the same. But I did not, and my grocery store certainly does not have cupcake papers. It is amazing what one can do when one has a craving... Hence, parchment papers in a cupcake pan worked for my lemon tarts.
Small tart tins are ideal. I have them... but that is another story.
Add lovely-long-Florida-strips of lemon zest and sprinkle with powder sugar.
Note: If you leave the lovely-long-Florida-strips of lemon zest out to dry, they curl stylish, and render a perfect texture. (Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the tarts with dried lemon zest curls!)
What do you have a craving for, maybe I can make it?