June 20, 2008
I recently had to make a dessert that didn’t contain any gluten. There are lots of gluten-free recipes out there, but most of the time, they call for some gluten-free concoction of rice flours, and seeing as I’m not all that interested in investing the time or energy to finding and mixing up these flours, it was easier for me to just come up with a flourless dessert.
Or so I thought. Everything contains flour!
After picking my brain and cookbooks for a long time, I finally came up with the idea of a pie in a coconut crust. I figured a coconut crust probably couldn’t withstand a long baking time, pies like pecan were out. I needed a cold pie, something that would go well with coconut…so out came Baking: From My Home to Yours, and I prepared the lemon filling for The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart. Lemon cream and coconut – how could it go wrong?
It was great. The coconut crust was very easy to prepare, and it tasted exactly like a macaroon, very sweet and delicious. I patted it down in an ungreased pie plate, baked it for about 20 minutes, and it came out perfectly browned and it held together very nicely.
The lemon filling was absolutely stunning though. The work it took was unbelievable though, and so I don’t know if I would be willing to put forth the effort again. I created a double boiler out of a pot and a bowl, and whisking the lemon cream for (at least) twenty minutes, while the bowl slipped around, while trying to hold a candy thermometer in there, proved to be more trouble than it was worth.
But the taste is fantastic! Not as rich as one would think, very light, tart and lemony. I found the textures between the filling and the coconut crust to be a little off, but their tastes complimented each other perfectly. I halved strawberries and circled the pie with them, and they added a great touch – I wouldn’t want to eat the pie without them. I was able to make two 9″ pies from the lemon cream recipe.
Overall, a great dessert! Perfect for these summer days!
Lemon Cream Pie with Coconut Crust
1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg white
1. Mix all three ingredients together.
2. Press mixture firmly into a 9″ pie plate
3. Bake for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees F
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
Getting Ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
1. Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
2. Set the bowl over the pan, and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk—you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
3. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
4. Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
5. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days and, or tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)
6. When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.
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