As someone who writes about food and kids and all those things, I often get requests for lunch ideas. Starting today, once again, I make three lunches in little LL Bean insulated lunch boxes every day. I have no lunch ideas. I only wish you increased sanity as you peruse through the world of school lunch. My children attend a nut-free school, the big one refuses leftovers, the little one refuses vegetables, and everyone wants cheese sticks. So today, the processed foods come out and here we go. I have two suggestions. The first is that you store your tupperware or other lunch containers with the LIDS ON. Even though this takes up more space, it will save you a lot of time shouting curses at six in the morning. The other suggestion is that after they go out the door, and before you have to go to work or do whatever else you have to do in the day, make something with chocolate in it.
Oh, Alice Medrich, how I love you.
The other night, the superior and illustrious Lissa threw a party for Molly and Aurel so they they could sell all their stuff before they go back to Istanbul. I brought this tart, and although I’m usually pretty good with this, it was hard not to feel like the mother of an honor student as I walked in with it. This tart is so so good. And have you gotten your rectangular tart pan yet? I’m telling you, it’s an instant self-esteem boost. In the spirit of Julia, all of us servantless American wives can make damn good food, but a nice tart pan will make you feel just a little bit more French.
Bittersweet Citrus Tart with Jasmine Cream
from Alice Medrich, Pure Dessert
For the Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon good quality jasmine tea
1 tablespoon maple syrup (she uses 2 tablespoons of sugar)
For the Crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
For the Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, from unsprayed fruit
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit zest, from unsprayed fruit
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/4 cup boiling water
The day before, or earlier in the day that you are making the tart, make the infused cream. Stir the tea leaves and cold cream in a jar. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, but not more. Strain the tea leaves out of the cream and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
To make the crust:
position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix until just blended. The dough will be very soft. It will firm up a bit after a few minutes, so you can let it stand if it seems unworkable.
Press the dough into your tart pan. Have patience. A spatula will help. Make sure that you really get it into the corners if you are using a rectangular pan. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and bake until the crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Prick with a fork if it bubbles up. Let cool completely on a rack before you even start the filling.
To make the filling:
Combine the chocolate, butter, and citrus zest in a small heatproof bowl. Set it in a wide skillet of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water. Stir until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl and put a strainer over it. Leave the skillet on low heat.
Place the egg yolk in a small bowl and gradually whisk in the 1/4 cup of boiling water. Place the egg bowl into the skillet (this can touch the water) and stir constantly with a spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent the egg from cooking, until the mixture registers 160 degrees with a candy thermometer. Remove the bowl from the skillet and scrape the mixture into the strainer over the bowl of chocolate. Stir gently until the egg is incorporated.
Pour the mixture into the cooled tart shell and spread it evenly. Place in a covered container or cover with wax paper and chill for at leat 3 hours. Thirty minutes before serving, remove the tart from the refrigerator. Remove the tart pan sides.
Whip the infused cream, adding the maples syrup or sugar as you go. Whip it until it holds a soft shape.
Serve each piece with a dollop of cream.