Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lemon Souffle Tarts (Page 784)


  • Date: Sunday, November 23, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Paul K, Beth, Lauren K, Norm, Kelly, and Scott B
  • Recipe Rating: B

I have been wanting to make this recipe for quite some time, but didn't have the 2 8-inch fluted tart pans required to do so (The Book insists that to get the right ratio of crust to filling one must make two smaller tarts rather than one bigger one). Then a couple weeks ago I received a mystery package from Sur la Table in the mail. What could it be? I didn't order anything, and it seemed too early to be receiving wedding or Christmas presents. I tore it open (presents, especially of the culinary variety, are very exciting!) to find inside not only two beautiful 8 inch fluted tart pans, but also a kugelhopf pan which I need for another dessert from The Book. This lovely gift came from Rachel. It was a "Thank you for throwing me a baby shower" gift. Thank you Rach! I wanted to put my new equipment to use right away, so I made these lemon tarts to bring to dinner at Paul's house a few days later.

I have made many tarts in my life, but it had genuinely never occurred to me to fill a tart crust with a souffle filling. The end result wasn't bad. I started by making a sweet pastry crust. Pastry crust with sugar and egg in it (aka pate sucree) is notoriously a pain in the ass to deal with. This one was no exception, although the fact that I was making two smaller tarts rather than one bigger one helped out quite a bit. Usually with pate sucree, rolling it out is reasonably easy but getting it into the pan without having it fall apart is another matter. In this recipe, working with the smaller rounds of dough helped matters considerably. After I got them in the pans, I blind baked the crusts then let them cool. Meanwhile I made a souffle-like filling. I cooked a mixture of egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice on the stovetop, then gently folded it into egg whites that had been beaten with sugar until stiff and glossy. This filling was spooned into the tart shells and baked until the filling was puffed and golden.

The crusts of these tarts were absolutely delicious and the filling had a great lemon flavor and a lovely light texture. I had only two hesitations about this recipe. One, after the recommended time in the oven the filling was indeed puffed and golden. But when we cut into the tarts later, the texture of the filling wasn't uniform. In particular, the center of the tart wasn't completely set. So while the texture away from the middle was quite nice, the middle was a bit runny, which wasn't appealing. This probably would have been fixed by another 3 minutes in the oven. My second complaint is that although I loved the crust and I liked the filling a lot, I didn't really love them together. Perhaps there is a reason we don't typically bake souffles in tart crusts -- it makes for an odd combination. The tart crust was rich and almost shortbread like in texture, while the filling was airy and light. Instead of complementing each other in a positive way, I found this combination unappealing. That's not to say that it tasted bad -- it certainly did not. I will happily admit that I went back for seconds. But if you are looking for the perfect lemon tart recipe, I don't think this is it.

This recipe isn't online.


Sara said...

I like the lemon tart recipes from The French Laundry and Dorie Greenspan's book a lot. I am intrigued by a souffle filling but not sure it's worth it.

Rachel said...

You're welcome...these look yummy to me! Though almost anything does these days, since I'm always hungry!

Teena said...

Sara: I haven't tried the French Laundry lemon tart. But I do love a good lemon tart, so perhaps I will try it!

Rach: Yeah, I am always hungry lately too, and I'm not pregnant. I don't know what is going on!