Citrus Curd Tarts
16 Jan 2007

For the life of me, I can never remember that citrus is not a summer fruit. Perhaps it is the bright sunny nature that fools me. But, perhaps that is also why we should be so lucky to enjoy fresh, juicy little bites of shine all winter long. It is a symbol of things to come, of the hope for that next warm day. And thanks to a recent photo shoot (as well as one coming soon), I have had more than my fair share of some of the most wonderful citrus... naval and blood oranges, satsumas and mandarins, meyer lemons and these cool little kumquat-blended fruits that I had never even heard of... limequats and mandarinquats. I spent a good chunk of the holidays juicing to preserve the precious juices, and the other trying to perfect a recipe that caught my eye in the October issue of Olive magazine (p 88)... a raspberry and lemon curd tart. These little individual tarts had beautiful swirls of dark pink and light purple on a gorgeous butter yellow canvas of lemon curd.

My first attempt turned out beautifully... with the exception that I didn't have the actual recipe with me at the time, nor any of my photo gear to record their splendor. You'll just have to trust me, they were divine. Little two-bite tarts which left you craving just another tiny bite.
My second attempt, when I was more prepared for photos, was simply a mess. I decided to just make one small tart, but I was distracted while cooking and made several simply dumb mistakes both with the pastry and with the citrus curd. Despite the goof-ups, the tart was still very tasty and I seemed to have no problem finishing it.
My final attempt resulted in two tarts... neither of which I actually ate more than a slice due to travel plans, but that our neighbors quite enjoyed (just as we were on our way out the door to the airport, we had to take a quick walk down the block to see who was around and to see if they liked lemon! We are lucky enough to live on such a street that we have such good neighbors.)
The first was a larger version of the citrus and raspberry curd, and the second was a lime and limequat tart, with fresh limequat slices decorating the top. While I only sampled one piece of each, both were bright and refreshingly sweet-tart, while somehow being smooth and creamy at the same time.
Limequats, by the way, are tiny yellow fruits that taste quite like a bitter-sweet lime and lemon cross. They make a fantastic curd, but are also lovely juiced for cocktails. The peel is sweeter than typical lime or lemon peel, so the zest makes a great garnish or addition to a salad. All the citrus I used was from Rising C Ranches. For the citrus curd, you can use just about any citrus. For the raspberry swirled tart, I used a combination of mandarins, meyer lemons and pink variegated lemons, which was a bit sweeter than using just lemon, but still very tangy. You'll want to vary the amount of sugar you used based upon the sweetness of the citrus you choose, to avoid a curd that is cloying or far too sour.
Citrus & Raspberry Curd Tart Loosely based on a recipe in Olive Magazine (Oct 06, p 88) Makes 1 large tart or several individual tarts, dependent upon your tart size 1 9-inch pate sucre recipe Citrus Curd 2 large eggs 1/2 cup caster sugar 2 teaspoons finely grated citrus zest 1/2 cup fresh citrus juice 1 t vanilla extract (optional) 1/8 cup heavy cream Raspberry Curd 2 large eggs 1/2 cup caster sugar 1 teaspoons finely grated citrus zest 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries 1/8 cup heavy cream First, make the tart shell and blind bake according to the recipe's direction. To make the citrus curd, place the citrus juice, zest and sugar in the top of a double boiler, or in a metal bowl and place over a pot of low-boiling water. Stir until the sugar is incorporated into the juice. Whisk in the cream (and vanilla if using) and heat until it smooth and just starts to thicken. Beat the eggs and yolks, and then add to the heated cream mixture by pouring through a sieve. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and has a bit of resistance while stirring. Then, remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool to room temperature. To make the raspberry curd, mash the raspberries through a sieve into the top of a double boiler, or in a metal bowl. Discard the seeds. Add the sugar and citrus zest to the raspberry juice, and place over a pot of low-boiling water. Whisk in the cream and heat until it just starts to thicken. Beat the eggs and yolks, and then add to the heated cream mixture by pouring through a sieve. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and has a bit of resistance while stirring. Then, remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool to room temperature. Now for the fun part. It's time to get creative with your tarts. The simplest approach is to simply pour in the citrus curd and the raspberry curd at the same time, letting them meet in the middle. Then, using a wooden skewer, simply draw little squiggles pulling the raspberry into the lemon and the lemon into the raspberry. This works beautifully for bite sized tarts. The problem with this approach on the larger tart is that you'll end up with a tart that is far too segregated. You want to enjoy the raspberry and citrus tastes together.
For my large tart, I decided to go with a "ringed" approach. A little citrus, then a little raspberry, and then a little citrus again. Each piece of the tart would have the combination of flavors. To do this, you just need a couple of cylinders of different sizes. I used a cookie cutter and a cake mold, and it seemed to work out just fine. Simply fill in each section to the same level, and then carefully pull the cylinders straight up. I could have stuck with the bulls-eye look... it was kind of neat looking. But, I decided to play around with that some as well, making a bit of a flower. Using the same technique of pulling with a skewer, I pulled from the center of the raspberry ring towards the middle of the tart, creating little petals. I repeated the same motion from the outer citrus into the raspberry. Once "designed," the tart needs to bake for about 20-30 minutes, until it sets and then cool to room temperature.

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