Two of my favorite food magazines are bon appetit and Cooks Illustrated. Have you heard of them? Both boast incredible, inspiring photos, delicious recipes, and if you're interested in how to make fool-proof, amazing dishes and desserts then Cook's Illustrated is your magazine.
I have several years of back issues . . . and I refer to them often. They fill many baskets throughout our home.
While glancing through the January 2013 issue of bon appetit I came across this gorgeous photo of a lemon honey tart with salted shortbread crust. Oh. my goodness. Isn't it beautiful!?!
I was completely drawn in by the slices of lemon suspended in the tart. The recipe revealed that these beautiful slices were from Meyer lemons. Have you ever baked with them? They remind me of a cross between a lemon and a mandarin . . . and can sometimes be slightly orange. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, more floral taste than regular lemons, making them great additions as fruit rather than just juice . . . and for adding lemon flavor without the mouth-puckering sourness of other lemons.
Bon appetit knew what they were doing when they paired Meyer lemons and honey, given that both have floral undertones . . . and compliment one another. Add a slightly salted shortbread crust and you have a perfect combination of sweet and salty. The lemon slices add a hint of zing, which rounds out this tart beautifully.
This recipe is very similar to making lemon bars, except that there's one more step. You'll make a honey and sugar mixture for the lemon slices to soak in, in advance. This is an important step, as it softens the slices and tames any traces of bitterness.
Wouldn't it be gorgeous for an Easter brunch, a shower, tea party, or a Summer dessert?
It will certainly be the Bell of the Ball on our Easter brunch table!
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature,
cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup powdered sugar
FILLING & Assembly
1 LARGE Meyer lemon, if possible (a larger Meyer will yield more slices, which makes for a prettier tart)
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (about 10 Meyer lemons)
Coat spring form pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour,
cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Place butter and powdered
sugar in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is smooth. Add dry ingredients
to food processor and pulse until mixture resembles medium-size pebbles (dough
will not come together completely). Transfer dough to prepared pan. Using your
fingers, press dough evenly onto bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of pan.
DO AHEAD: Crust can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and
FILLING & Assembly
Using a mandolin, slice Meyer lemon into paper-thin rounds. If you don't have a mandolin, then use a small serrated knife and cut very THIN slices. Remove
Using a whisk, mix the sugar, honey, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add lemon
slices and using a spoon, GENTLY toss to coat. Let sit until lemon is softened and sugar is
dissolved, 60 minutes.
DO AHEAD: Lemon slice mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover
Place rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 325°. Bake
crust until center is firm to the touch and edges are beginning to turn golden
brown, 30-35 minutes.
When crust is almost done baking, whisk eggs and egg yolks
in a medium bowl to blend.
Whisk flour, cornstarch, and salt in a small bowl;
add to egg mixture and whisk to combine.
Whisk in lemon juice. Add lemon slice
mixture; mix GENTLY to combine.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°. Pour filling into hot
crust. Using a fork, move the lemon slices around so that there is even coverage. Bake until filling is set and slightly puffed around edges, 35-40 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely. Chill for at least 4 hours,
then unmold. Serve cold.
DO AHEAD: Tart can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep
chilled. **I've read many reviews that this tart does not work with regular lemons, only Meyer lemons. Regular lemons are too tart and bitter.
I'm always looking for an excuse to make sugar cookies with my kids. So when I can across these adorable cookie cutters a few months ago . . . bunny, carrot, tulip, and chick . . . I couldn't wait for the arrival of Spring to make them!
Our dining room table looked like a farm in the Springtime when we were finished.
We used a variety of pastel and vibrant colored sanding sugars . . . yellow, pink, orange, mint green and white . . . to decorate the cookies. I had extra green rock candy from Lauren's birthday cake, so we used it to make the carrot tops; and extra white candies from Charley's birthday cake were used for Peter's Cotton-tail.
Did you notice that a few of the carrots are two-tone?
I didn't want to waste the extra yellow sanding sugar I had, so I mixed it with the orange sanding sugar, and the combination made a beautiful golden-toned orange. Something so simple made those little carrots look more interesting!
Spring sugar cookies
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1 egg, room temperature
powder sugar (instead of flour) for rolling out dough
. . . . . . . . .
To make the cookies, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt . . . set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix until just combined.
Form the dough into a flattened ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured powder sugar surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart, and bake until just golden around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies from the pans and let cool completely.
Makes 10 to 20 cookies, depending on cutter size.
Sugar Cookie GLAZE
2 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoons milk 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
. . . . . . . . .
Combine ingredients and mix until smooth Using a small paint brush (or the tip of your finger), spread on top of cookies
Sprinkle sanding sugar on top of GLAZE when it's wet The secret to a 'clean' sugar edge is not letting the glaze drip down the sides of the cookie. A thick glaze is also key. After the glaze has been mixed, add 1 Tablespoon of confectioners' sugar at a time, until you get the desired consistency. Have fun!
I found edible Easter grass at Powell's Sweet Shoppe last week. It's imported from Germany, and not easy to find. So if you're lucky enough to come across it, then be sure and buy some. It's a unique confection that can be added to your Easter baskets or cello gift bags. I love it!
I used a little to make 'sweet' nests for the kids' chicks . . . and I'm using it in a window gift box that Charley is taking to her teacher tomorrow.
After all that fun, hard work the kids enjoyed a glass of milk with Spring-inspired paper straws and their favorite sugar cookie. We had a wonderful afternoon!