Strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes
Spring is finally here! And with it, the first strawberries of the season. Though this weekend’s weather is supposed to be shocking, I think I’m happy to stay warm indoors and dream about the lovely flowers, fresh berries and stone fruit on the way! I must say though, that the strawberries we seem to have been flooded with are still pretty raw and not as red or as sweet as later in the season, so my hunger for fresh berries hasn’t been satiated. Hopefully we’ll score some good finds at the farmers market this week. But, I had a million plans for the berries we did get our hands on last week, and these tartelettes with lemon cream was one of them. However, they were a huge pain! And though they are strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes, they are also known as fugly tartelettes because, well, they are fondly ugly
And the reason why I make fugly tarts is because I have a love-hate relationship with pastry. Which is a problem because I love making tarts. I’ve taken to sticking to making biscuit bases but part of me feels like it’s a cop out and also, sometimes you just need a good shortcrust or pâte sucrée. This was one of those occasions. I envisioned a buttery, crisp pastry to go with the lush lemon cream. However, the pastry just did not cooperate with me!
The tartelette shells needed to be blind baked, and I painstakingly cut up little squares of baking paper and spooned rice as weights, but once they were in the oven for a while, I knew something was wrong. The pastry started shrinking away from the edges and frankly, they looked horrid! Soy happened to ring me then, and I had a rant and threatened to just bin the whole thing, I was that fed up!
So I left the tray with the shells to cool, and I went to do something else in order to soothe my nerves. And when I finally came back to them and popped them out of the moulds, I actually thought that they didn’t look too bad, and that it would be a waste to just throw away all the shells in a huff, and decided to go ahead and make my filling anyway. These tartelettes are really simple to make if you have a better relationship with pastry than I do, which I’m sure you do, and all you need to whip up is the cream, top with fresh fruit and that’s it! These would be a perfect accompaniment to a special afternoon tea.
Even though I wasn’t happy with how the tart shells looked, I must say that they tasted pretty good! Once baked, they smelt amazing. You know how smell makes up half of how we taste? These tartelettes are a prime example of this- I could smell the buttery crust, the slight tang and vanilla aroma of the lemon cream and finally, the tart, fruity perfume of fresh strawberries. And when you take a bite of them, they were all that I was hoping for- the crunch of the tart crust, the lush velvety cream and the fresh berries all came together so beautifully in one mouthful. My brother and sister polished them off that night and were appalled when I told them I had actually wanted to throw them away!
So, have you had failures in the kitchen that actually turned out well in the end?
Strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes
I have not included the pastry recipe I used since it caused me so much headache, but any trusted shortcrust or pâte sucrée recipe will do.
For the lemon cream,
1:3 ratio of lemon curd and fresh cream whipped together
200g caster sugar
120g butter, cut into cubes
Finely zest the lemons. Juice the lemons, then add the zest back into the lemon juice.
Beat the eggs and pass through a fine sieve. Put the beaten eggs, sugar and lemon zest and juice into a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir the mixture continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon (about 20-30min).
Remove the bowl from the heat, then add the butter in a little at a time, stir and incorporate well into the mixture.
Store your lemon curd in a clean glass jar. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To assemble your tartelettes:
Fill your baked tartelette shells with lemon cream, and top with fresh berries. Enjoy!