A Tale of Two Tarts

I mentioned recently that I have been acquiring kitchen gadgets at an alarming rate and I wanted to share a story about one of them – my new tart pan.

I’ve been making “tarts” for years, but really, they were just tart crusts in a pie pan.  They tasted different than a plain ‘ol pie, but I couldn’t really call them tarts without the perfect little fluted crust.  It just wasn’t the same.

About a month ago, I finally broke down and entered Williams-Sonoma with the intention of actually purchasing something.  (My past forays were strictly to window shop.)  I walked out $80 lighter, but with a new non-stick tart pan from France (important because the French invented pastries and I was sure that with such pedigreed equipment, these tarts were going to practically make themselves) a matching dishtowel and handtowel set, and Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, “How Easy Is That?”.

The tart pan sat in my cookware cupboard just waiting for the right ingredients to come along.  Each week I would by mushrooms and leeks with the full intention of making one of my favorite dinners – a mushroom and leek tart – and each week Friday night would roll around and the tart pan remained untouched.

Finally, I decided that the only way to properly break in the new tart pan was by making a decadent fruit tart.  We have a few citrus trees on our property and one of the varieties is blood orange.  From The World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients:

These small oranges have red-flushed skins and jewel-like flesh, which can range from golden to deep ruby-red.  These are the best oranges to use for sorbets and desserts where coulor is important.  They are an essential ingredient of sauce Maltaise, an orange-flavored mayonnaise which takes its name from the sour but juicy Maltese blood orange.

I decided that I wanted to try a blood orange tart so I cobbled together recipes from three cookbooks to create my first Blood Orange Tart with Candied Citrus.  Here is the final result:

Blood Orange Tart

The crust is “rustic” to say the least and the filling was a bit runnier that I had liked.  The candied oranges weren’t quite as candied as I wanted, (although Joel was surprised to find that he could eat the orange rind and all and he was quite pleased with the taste.)

All in all, not a bad first run with the tart pan.  (At least it was edible, and tasted wonderful with coffee the next morning,) but being the impatient baker that I am (and absolute perfectionist) it was vital that my next tart be perfect!

Behold, the Lemon Tart with Fresh Cream and Strawberries:

Fresh Lemon Tart

I doubled the curd recipe since Joel thought the previous one didn’t have enough.  I was a little worried that the crust was too thin, but I was so happy to see it come out of the oven with all of the perfect little tart flutes intact.  And it tasted amazing!  I took it to a dinner party and everyone ooohed and ahhhed just looking at it.  Then they tasted it and people were actually licking their forks!  Yes, success!

Now that the tart pan has been properly broken in, I’m finally getting around to making that Mushroom and Leek Tart for dinner.  I can’t wait.

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