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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lemon Curd Bites - Experimenting With Meyer Lemons

Lemon Curd Bites 3

Lemon Curd Bite 2

Meyer Lemons
My business travels wreak havoc on my blogging activities but they also give me interesting new exposure to elements that very often turn into inspirational fodder for my blog.... provided if I find time to tap into those inspirations before they fade away in my memory....

I was back in the Big Apple region for almost 3 weeks, working on business plans. Between the cold rainy weathter, the floods in New Jersey and the first transfixing images of the engulfing tsunami in Japan, I was still fortunate enough to be blessed with 2 sunny, fair weathered weekends to roam the streets of New York. 

I saw these Meyer Lemons at Dean & Deluca on my first weekend in town. Fascinated by the collection of cross-bred citrus varieties available, I made a mental note to bring home some blood orange, meyer lemons and mandarinos... Unfortunately by the time I returned again on the weekend just before my departure, the stock has already dwindled to a haggard looking bundle, stripped of the barrels of sunshine I had seen a week earlier. I picked out half a dozen of the best looking Meyer Lemons I could find and hand carried them on my flight home.

Just a little bit of background on the Meyer Lemons for those who are interested - this citrus is a cross bred between a lemon and a mandarin orange. Believed to have been first bred in China for ornamental purposes, US started to consume this in the early 1900. However, I believe I have only become aware of this after I have seen this featured in gourmet magazines and Martha Stewart's recipes over the last 2 years.

Rounder than the ordinary lemon with a deeper orangey hue, the fruit smelt gorgeous like a sweet grapefruit with a mild hint of the lemony zest.  Taste wise, it is less tart than an ordinary lemon but with alot more tang than a sweet orange. I would think that the juice of the Meyer Lemon would be perfect as it is for a lemonade drink without the need for additional sugar.

I deliberated over what to do with the Meyer Lemons when I got back. Now, on hind sight, I have to admit that I had been too narrow minded and was too boxed in by my own pre-conception that to test a lemon,I would need to make a lemon curd. I played safe and fell back on Tish Boyle's Lemon Curd Bites from her The Good Cookie cookbook. 'The miniature tarts made with a tender cream cheese dough was filled with tangy lemon curd. Very posh, very sophisticated.' - I was sold.

Lemon Curd Bite 5
These turned out to be pretty little things and yes, I could imagine them looking posh and sophisticated among a tea party spread but I have to admit that the Meyer Lemons did not quite give the right taste to the tarts. Lemon curd, I have come to conclude, should be smooth and tart. One expects the lemon curd to be bright and zesty. However, the subdued tartness of the Meyer Lemons was not enough to deliver the kick. With this recipe, I found that the curd was a little lost in its flavour. At one point, I think my disappointment even wryly hallucinated me into thinking that I was tasting Benadryl...  now I am really lost...

I have not lost heart. I still have 4 lemons in my fridge. I will think of something.....

After thought : I probably should have cut the sugar for the lemon curd by half and that would give me a more tart finish...

Lemon Curd Bite 2(100)
Recipe
Lemon Curd Bites (from Tish Boyles's The Good Cookie)

Cream Cheese Dough
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confection sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
3 oz Cream chees,cut into 1/2 inch chunks and frozen for 30mins
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lemon Curd
1 large egg
4 large egg yolks
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter cut into tablespoons

Method:
Dough
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, confectioners' sugar, baking powder, and salt and process for a few seconds, until blended. Sprinkle the butter and cream cheese pieces over the mixture and pulse about 18 times until the butter pieces are the size of peas and the mixtures resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla with a fork. Add the mixture to hte processor and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.

2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently press it into a disk. Wrap the dough with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until firm.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400F (205C). Coat 2 12 cup miniature muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut out twenty-four 2-inch squares of aluminum foil.

4. Remove the dough from the fridg and divide it in half. Divide each half into 12 portions. Shape each piece of dough into a ball. Place one ball in each muffin cup and press down into the center of the ball with the knuckle of your index finger to form an indentation, then press the dough up the sides of the cup to its rim. The cups should be completely lined with dough. Prick the bottom of each crust with a fork. Line each crust with a alumninum foil and fill with a few pie weights, dried beans or rice.

5. Bake the crusts for 10mins. Transfer the muffin pans to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350F (175C). Remove the foil and weights from the crusts and bake the crusts for another 7 to 9 mins until golden brown around the edges. Cool down the muffin pans completely before removing tart cases from the pan.

Lemon Curd
1. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium sized heavy nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the egg, yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the lemon juice and zest, salt and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, 7-10mins. (do not let the mixture boil, or it will curdle). Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the curd until chilled, about 1 hour.

Assembly

1. Placing the chilled lemon curd in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tip, pipe a generous rosette of lemon curd into each crust.



45 comments:

Wen said...

This is so cute! I made some lemon curb last night and don't know what to do with it so your recipe comes in handy! Thanks for sharing!

CaThY said...

Lovely! I bet they were yummy too :)

busygran said...

Shirley, those are indeed posh-looking darlings!

Jean said...

they look so divine! i've heard of meyer lemons but dont think they are available at this side of the planet...what a pity :(

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

wonderful pictures and mouthwatering bites.

j3ss kitch3n said...

beautiful lemony treats!

pickyin @ LifeIsGreat said...

I want to try meyer lemons and always lament that they aren't available here (this is right I assume?)

David Lebovitz, in his lemon bar experiments concluded that meyers are not tart enough to stand on their own, best mixed with normal lemons I think.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Pickyin: Thanks for the insight! I am glad I am not alone in my conclusion!

Bakertan said...

hey shirley,

I always thought meyer lemons are perfect for any lemon bakes, including lemon curd. Looks like I am wrong.

Zurin said...

glad your back. Tha tarts look very posh and classy. Now I know what meyer lemons are. I have always wondered but never bothered to find out because we cant get them here anyway. Good info Shirley .TQ :)

Passionate About Baking said...

I love to see your post again! Ah, that explains why you haven't been baking lately. Thanks for the insights on Meyer Lemons. I didn't know the difference.
Last week, I just made some lemon curd and didn't know it was actually so nice. Now, you made this again, made me wonder if I should make it again. Your lemon curd bites look really good...made me salivate...

tinytearoom said...

I wonder if Meyer Lemons are available in Sydney? I'm seeing them pop up on several food blogs. Your lemon bites look delicious. i prefer my desserts with a citrusy bite to it.

girlleastlikely said...

These look absolutely delicious!
I'm so jealous of you for finding some meyer lemons - they're ridiculosly tricky to hunt down in Australia!

Beautiful images as well! :)

ICook4Fun said...

Welcome back Shirley. Great looking tarts and beautiful pictures as usual. I always have weakness for anything citrusy. A friend used to gave us a lot of Meyer Lemons when we were living in CA and I too find then not citrusy enough so we usually made lemonade out of it.

Honey Bee Sweets said...

Shirley, I used to have a Meyer Lemon tree growing in my house backyard in CA....until my last tenant did something and it withered away. At that time, I always felt so fortunate to own a lemon tree! Lol! I have to agree Meyers are not as citrus as the usual lemons, but Benadryl ? Seriously? lol! Anyways, where and how much did you pay for those Meyers? I think I have this recipe from Martha but couldn't quite recall whether did I actually tried baking it...my instinct is yes. Martha Is a BIG fan of Meyers, so if you ever attempt her recipes, try opting normal lemons next time. Oh yes, welcome back!

travellingfoodies said...

Hi Shirley,

I'd read so much about meyer lemons and the myriad of stuff that can be made from them and like what pick yin said, some recipes states half the quantity with meyer lemons and the other with usual egyptian/israeli ones. Like you'd analysed, Meyer lemons might not be able to hold on their own for a hardcore lemony recipe but certainly gives more dimension without having to add more sugar.

Do you find any difference with the aroma of the zest?

pigpigscorner said...

Lucky you! I've yet to get my hands on some meyer lemons around here.

JehanP said...

These are soo cute!! I love lemon desserts, this is a great recipe for entertaining, I must try it!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

@travelingfoodies: The aroma of the zest is absolutely lovely. Hence I am thinking of doing something by rubbing the zest with sugar.

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

Well they look divine! I know what you mean about tartness in lemon curd - it's what makes you keep coming back for more. I've never tasted a Meyer lemon so can't imagine what would be best but I'm sure you'll find something - looking forward to reading it.

alice said...

i too like my lemon curd nice and tart. you know, somehow i think this is a sign that you need to move your business trips to chicago instead of nyc next time!

Yummy Koh said...

Pls check this out http://yummykoh.blogspot.com/2011/03/surprise-award.html

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

I've been asking my in laws to lug back meyer lemons, blood oranges and whatever we can't find here, but hahaha, they could never seem to find them.
I've been curious abt meyers for a long long time, same goes to key lime.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Shirley, wow! I love this! I guess you have a Black belt in cooking and baking. And a graduate of The Swiss Finishing School?
Love the texture and colours.

Looking at your these cakes, it must have required dexterity, delicacy, finesse, coordination and patience on your part...
And I love your stylish eloquence.

You have a nice day and keep a song in your heart.
Best regards, Lee.

Mei Teng said...

Yummy! :)

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Oooo I love the look of these tassies, especially the first photo. The curd looks so glossy and smooth. I really just want to pop one in my mouth. Oh sweet sweet torture 8).

Helene said...

I always enjoy your pictures. This is a treat that looks delicious.

Jo said...

Lovely lemon curd desserts and I'm envious that you managed to get meyer lemons. Do they taste much better than ordinary lemons = read that they are less tart?

tigerfish said...

Can you get Meyer Lemons in Sg ? Or were they "sneaked" in ? hee heee.
I remember the first time I tried Meyer Lemon (as marmalade) visiting a olive tree farm some time back.

Ben said...

Those little tarts look delicious! What a beautiful blog :)

OohLookBel said...

When life gives you lemons, you can't go wrong with lemon curd! These look delicate and delicious.

Swee San said...

Cream cheese tart crust, much like Rugelach eh.. The curd looks gleefully delicious!

The Sweetylicious said...

this is so LOVELY! (: im sure it taste yummy! another MUST TRY recipe from you :D

Mary said...

These are perfection. Amaaaaazing!

Great blog; happy I found you!

Mary xo
Delightful Bitefuls

Indie.Tea said...

Yum! I am a HUGE fan of Meyer lemons...my parents have a tree, and it produces a lot of fruit - so I have them except the warmest 4-5 months of the year. I think these bites are a gorgeous way to showcase them - and they sound perfectly delicious.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So pretty and delicious looking! Lemon curd is divine.

Cheers,

Rosa

Maria said...

I love Meyer lemons, they are just so gorgeously bright and yellow. These look really beautiful!

Quay Po Cooks said...

Shirley,
I don't think I can find Meyer lemons here but I am quite happy with the lemon curd I made from ordinary lemons. Your lemon curds looks lip smacking delicious and your photos brings out "yummiliciousness" if there is such a word! Have a great weekend.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh what a shame that you weren't wowed by the curd! And I keep forgetting that you can bring fruit into Singapore. I would love to bring fruit into Australia but of course we can't! :(

Joanne said...

Ahh love these! Although I'm so sorry that you weren't wowed by the flavor! When I use meyer lemons I like to use 3/4 meyer lemon juice and 1/4 regular lemons so that I still get tartness mixed with the complex meyer flavor.

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious bites looks wonderful and colourful

daphne said...

I sooo want some of these lemons now. The curd looks great and so is the little cakes with cream cheese dough! who would hv thought? yum!

Barbara said...

Lovely little tarts.

Angie's Recipes said...

I will have to try those cute lemon bites. They are so adorable !

Eesh said...

i just had a lemon curd tart from bourke st bakery...and then i see these cute bites. i think its a sign!

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