2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

I just love the bright zing of a citrus dessert, don’t you? Chocolate has its place — I’ve known and loved many chocolate desserts over the years — but citrus just seems fresher and lighter on the palate, if not in calories. This tart came about through a bit of trial and error, but I was very happy with the final product and hope you will be, too!

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

The fillings are quite sweet — apple-lemon curd topped with candied orange peel — so a buttery almond crust is the perfect foil. Elana’s Pantry is my go-to site for anything almond-flour related, and this simple, rich tart crust did not disappoint. Just be sure to make the base as thick as the sides. You can see my base was a bit too thin which caused a few problems when cutting.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

Instead of a straightforward lemon curd, I searched for something that would play well with apple, as my original idea was to top this with roasted apples (which fell apart, hence the candied orange peel) and found an interesting recipe for a Bramley apple-lemon curd. Bramleys are a variety of cooking apple popular in the UK, quite sour, and quite impossible to find in the states. Still, the recipe was intriguing enough that I substituted the tartest varieties of apple I could get my hands on and walked away with a sweet, delicate filling for the tart. Now that I think about it, I wonder if quince would be an acceptable substitute for Bramleys. Hmmm…anyone?

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

I have to admit I chose the candied orange peel for aesthetic reasons, as I did the amount shown in the photos, but apart from the difficulty it caused slicing the tart, it was a good choice. I’d advise topping the already-cut pieces with a few slivers of peel just before serving to make life a lot easier.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 4

But the absolute best part about this recipe? It’s a two- three- four-fer. Is that even a thing? The recipe makes a LOT of lemon curd, which is a wonderful homemade gift, assuming it can be refrigerated soon after you give it. Packaged with a little porcelain spoon and a sleeve of shortbread cookies, I promise it’ll bring a smile to your food-lover’s face. The orange peel recipe also yields a metric shit-ton, so give those as gifts, too, or make them even more special by dipping them in melted bittersweet chocolate first. LOVE. And then there’s the remaining orange syrup…stay tuned for that one.

recipe after the jump

Lemon Curd Tart with Candied Orange Peel adapted from Elana’s Pantry, River Cottage and Food Network

For the crust, I’d suggest using the brand of almond flour recommended at Elana’s Pantry instead of easier-found, but coarsely-ground, almond meal. The lemon curd is delicious, but quite sweet using our standard tart apple varieties in America, so cut back on the sugar a little bit if you’d like. Or try it with quince and let me know how it turns out!

Make the tart crust:

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place flour and salt in food processor and pulse briefly. Add melted butter and egg and pulse until mixture forms a ball.

Press dough into a 9-inch metal tart pan or oblong tart pan. Prick bottom of crust with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack to room temperature.

Make the lemon curd:

1 lb. tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons (you’ll need 4 ounces of strained juice)
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4–5 large eggs, well beaten

Put the chopped apples into a pan with 1/2 cup water and the lemon zest. Cook gently until soft and fluffy, adding more water as necessary, then either beat to a purée with a wooden spoon or pass through a food mill.

Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice and apple purée into a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture is hot and glossy, temper the eggs with a few spoonfuls of the hot mixture, then pour in the eggs and whisk the mixture.

Stir the mixture over a gentle heat, scraping down the sides of the bowl every few minutes, until thick and creamy. This will take 9–10 minutes; the temperature should reach 180–184 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

If there are bits of cooked egg in the curd, force it through a sieve. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the candied orange peel:

5 thick-skinned Valencia or navel oranges
3 cups sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 cup water

Cut tops and bottoms off of the orange and score the orange into quarters, cutting down only into the peel and not into the fruit. Peel the skin and pith of the orange in large pieces, use the orange for another recipe. Cut the peel into strips about 1/4-inch wide. Put the orange peel in a large saucepan with cold water to cover, bring to a boil over high heat, then pour off the water. Repeat one or two more times depending up how assertive you want the orange peels to be. (I liked the texture of a two-time blanch best; it still had a touch of bitterness. But it is a matter of preference.) Remove the orange peels from the pan.

Whisk the sugar with water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 9 minutes (If you took the sugar’s temperature with a candy thermometer it would be at the soft thread stage, 230 to 234 degrees F.) Add the peels and simmer gently, reducing heat to retain a simmer. Cook until the peels get translucent, about 45 minutes. Do not stir the peels or you may introduce sugar crystals into the syrup. If necessary, swirl the pan to move the peels around. Drain the peels, (save the syrup for another recipe.) Roll the peels in sugar and dry on a rack for 4 to 5 hours. Return to the sugar to store.

Assemble the tart:

Spread about one cup of the lemon curd into the tart, covering the base evenly. If presentation won’t be a concern, scatter orange peels over it now and refrigerate. If you want to serve beautiful slices of tart to your guests, refrigerate the tart, slice just before serving, then sprinkle each piece with the orange peels.

Note: I’m planning to open an Etsy store in the new year to sell prints, cards, etc. Tell me: would you like to see these Advent Calendar posts collected into a set of cards with the recipes? Anything else your hearts desire?

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