Sunday, April 1, 2012
Lime Cream Tarts with Ginger Whipped Cream
The movie Waitress is one my favorites. I love that it is sad and funny, sweet and quirky and has a nontraditional happy ending that is the happiest ending of them all. If you haven't seen it, I beg you to do so. Soon. Jenna, the main character, is trapped in an unhappy marriage to a cruel man and the only happiness she finds is in creating and making pies with names like Lonely Chicago Pie and Falling In Love Pie.
Fortunately I couldn't identify with much of Jenna's story except for the pleasure she found in making pies. I am not the pie master that Jenna is, but I do find calm in the kitchen. I'm almost always alone in the kitchen and can just focus on the task(s) at hand. Measuring, mixing, chopping, kneading, patting, rolling are all therapeutic for me.
So lately I've had pie on my mind and finally settled on making a lime pie. Lime and ginger are two of my favorite flavors and I thought they would be lovely together. I wanted to incorporate ginger into the crust but decided to go with a basic graham cracker crust and infuse the whipped cream with ginger. I love the taste of lime and ginger but love their scent even more. Making this pie was an olfactory delight.
For the filling I turned to Dorie Greenspan and made her lime cream which incidentally included ginger but I didn't use. Okay, I have to wax poetic about this cream for a minute. I'm not sure if this is technically a custard or a cream or a curd, but it was divine. The texture was absolutely silky. The lime flavor was more subtle than the key lime pie I usually make but that could be due to my using less lime juice than called for. But I love it nonetheless.
After pouring the lime cream into my oh-so-fancy fait en France tart pans, I piped on ginger laced whipped cream. I finely grated fresh ginger into the cream to impart the flavor without adding too much heft to detract from creating a fluffy cream. I wish I had added more because I was really looking for a hit of spice to play against the citrus layer. Again, still delicious. A smattering of toasted coconut was my final touch.
Lime Ginger Tarts
ever so slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan
For the graham cracker crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick) melted
For the filling:
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 limes
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6 limes)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, but into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature
For the ginger whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipped cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and butter until crumbs are moistened. Press into 9-inch pie pan, or individual tart pans if using. Bake for 10 minutes. Let crust cool.
To make the filling: Have an instant-read thermometer, strainer, and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips for a few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of the limes is strong. Whisk the eggs, then whisk in the juice and cornstarch.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with a whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lime cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. You must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling. You will see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point, the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience, depending on how much heat you are giving the mixture it may take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as it reaches 180 degrees, remove the cream from the heat and strain into the container of a blender or food processor; discard the zest. Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender or processor to high speed, and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate the cream for at least 4 hours.
To make the whipped cream: Whisk cream, sugar, and ginger together by hand or with mixer until soft peaks form.
To assemble pie or tarts: Spread lime cream in prepared crust(s). Pipe or spread ginger whipped cream on top and refrigerate until ready to serve.