Seeing as I can’t open my present yet, I’ll occupy myself here. So, the return of the muffin pan pie shells. The dough part is pretty standard, this recipe has yet to fail me. One whole batch of dough makes about sixteen shells, and one batch of curd makes 1-1.5 cups, so I doubled it, then, realizing how much I’d need to fill sixteen shells, made another single batch to add into it. (If a smaller batch is desired, one batch of curd fills five shells.) The double batch had beurre noisette added (I won’t go into it, I was just curious), and the single batch I added a tablespoon or so of butter, though next time I might not add any, as butter makes it richer but it also softens the citrus. Granted, lemons are far more tart and acidic than white grapefruit (used here) which can be eaten plain (sugar is for pansies), but I wish it were tangier. (I wonder if decreasing the sugar would affect the consistency adversely….) If you want tang, though, it’s pretty much lemon or lime, or passionfruit, if you can find it. I’m no authority, but I’d think one could use this basic outline for any citrus fruit.
1/3 c juice + 1 T zest of a citrus fruit
1/2 c sugar
2 T juice + zest of a lime (optional, I only added it to increase acidity)
a few T butter (optional, to mellow the tang)
First, I got the dough out of the fridge to thaw while I made the curd. A double boiler is a nice luxury to have, but if you don’t have one, whisk together the eggs, juice, and sugar in a heatproof bowl, then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, i.e., you don’t want it touching. (Not a lot of water is needed anyway, as you’ll have the bowl sealing off the pan, which slows vaporization. I had maybe an inch and a half of water.) Add butter, if you’re using it, after the mixture is warm. If you have a thermometer, I’d recommend using it, as the temperature of the mixture should be kept between 150º-170ºF. It’ll take 15-20 minutes (I never timed it, to be honest) to cook under such low heat, but convection is crucial to keep the temperature low enough to minimize coagulation of egg proteins, which begins around 140º-150ºF, but high enough to pasteurize the egg, at least 140º, as I understand. (If you put the mixture in one pot on the stove, you have to keep an extremely close eye on things, as conduction will heat the mixture more quickly.) Of course, constant whisking is essential to the cause as well, though it should be said that, unless you’re a master/mistress, there will be bits of coagulated egg to strain out at the end. After about twenty minutes, I then strained the curd into another bowl, folded in the zest, then cooled it in the fridge.
As that all takes about half an hour, the dough should be thawed enough to roll out. Muffin pan tart shells time, that means cutting out 4.5 inch circles of dough (using a half-gallon jar lid), fitting thoroughly into the muffin cups, weighing down with dry beans, and baking at 425º for twenty minutes. I used a whole batch of dough, to be safe, and only had two shells left over with no more curd. An empty shell is quite delicious on its own. With the curd still in the fridge, I let the shells cool completely for two or three hours before filling then, upon which I closed them up in a container and returned them to the fridge for a few hours, overnight is best if you have the time. If you’re going to sift a bunch of powdered sugar on top as I did, I’d recommend doing it just before serving, or the sugar will melt into the curd over time and you’ll have to re-do it. Unless, of course, you just want the rims/crust dusted.
Except for the part where it’s more sweet than tart, these were pretty damn good. I’m proud to share them today.