Dinner parties always stresses me out - especially those where I have to contribute a dessert. With various tastebuds in mind (some of my friends have a sweet tooth, while others like a tangy dessert and there were also kids involved), I was in a bind on what to make. Eventually I settled on a mix of bittersweet chocolate mousse, white chocolate mousse and a tangy lemon tart recipe, which I wanted to try.
Due to a few mishaps (including a roving cat who ran away for a few hours), I wasn't in a mood to make desserts hence I started only around 3pm. Dinner was just a few hours away and I had to quickly make the mousse or else it won't set. Luckily my mood picked up, as that roving cat came home after she heard me in the kitchen. Once she was sorted out, I felt much better and could concentrate on dessert.
The bittersweet chocolate mousse was based on a simple recipe I learnt from the Just Heavenly duo. I know my friend and her kids hate anything bitter (I only had Valrhona 66% in my fridge), so I made a simple white chocolate mousse from Alice Medrich's Bittersweet. Luckily I did, as that became a runaway success for dinnertime. She loved it and luckily so did her kids! Very simple to make - just melt white chocolate with a little water and mix with whipped heavy cream. Incredibly divine stuff, which they all lapped up. I reckon the next time, I will pair it with some raspberries.
I have been eyeing the famous Lemon Tart recipe from the French Laundry cookbook, for a while. Took an article in the recent Vogue and Entertaining Travel to get me started on making it. Very simple to make and I like how everything worked together even though I only started assembling the stuff around 6pm! I'm glad I made the effort, as everyone who tried it loved it. My friends were fighting for the leftovers - Jess wanted to take some home for her parents to try. Will definitely make this again and again. The crust is a little fragile though, so be careful if transporting it to another place. The lightness of the lemon sabayon and the flaky biscuit crust makes it a perfect ending to a heavy meal.
Lemon Tart (adapted from the French Laundry Cookbook)
honeyed mascarpone cream
125ml (1/2 cup) pouring/UHT cream
60g (1/4 cup) mascarpone
1 tablespoon honey
pine nut crust
80g (1/2 cup) pine nuts
2 tablespoons caster sugar
150g (1 cup) plain flour
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, cold
2 egg yolks, cold
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
90g cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
icing sugar to dust
To make honeyed mascarpone cream: Whisk UHT cream until frothy, add mascarpone and honey. Whisk until thick. Refrigerate until ready to serve with lemon tart.
To make pine nut crust: Pulse pine nuts in food processor a few times. Add sugar and flour, pulse till finely ground. Add butter and process till it resembles fine crumbs. Add egg and vanilla, process till mixture comes together. Form pastry into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To bake pine nut crust: Preheat oven to 180C. Generously butter and flour a 24cm loose bottomed tart tin. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Remove pastry from the refridgerator, press pastry evenly into tart tin with fingertips. Bake for 7-10 minutes, rotate tin and bake another 7-10 minutes or until pastry is golden. Cool and don't worry if it cracks.
To make lemon sabayon: Bring 5cm to boil in a pot, slightly smaller than your mixing bowl. Whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar in mixing bowl for 1 minute until smooth. Place bowl over pot, and beat mixture with a whisk continously, for 2 minutes until eggs are foamy & thick. Add one third of lemon juice, whisk again till mixture thickens. Repear twice more with remaining juice. Continue whisking until mixture thickens and leaves a trail. This should take 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat, leave bowl over water. Whisk in butter pieces one at a time. Remove and pour warm sabayon in cooled pine nut tart shell.
To brown lemon tart: Preheat oven grill and place tart under grill, leaving oven door oven. Brown for a few seconds (be careful to not burn it, so watch it carefully). Remove from oven.
To serve: Leave the browned lemon tart to stand for 1 hour at room temperature. Dust with icing sugar and serve with honeyed mascarpone cream on the side.