April heralds in the Spring Season.
Temperatures already reaching the high 70’s and low 80’s in NYC and buds buds, beautiful flowering buds on the trees. Cherry and peach blossoms, dogwoods in pink and white and some tree that I cannot identify has the most magnificent pink blossoms, to the tune of peony. These, I covet and steal after dark on long dog walks. Yes, its true and I admit it. Is it wrong to carry flower shears in the dark in Brooklyn? I think it’s a grand idea. Self defense that fills the vases around my apt with beautiful blooms. I promise I only take the ones on neutral sidewalk territory.
There is one other thing that really says its Spring to me and that is LEMONS! I crave lemonade, lemon scented cleaners, lemon detergents, lemon soaps and lemon everything in my cooking. Lemon is my favorite Spring flavor. Its fresh and flirty, like Spring. Tart, like something new just spring to life. Its got a Zing!, just like the reawakening we feel after a long grey Winter. It’s the color of the sun in April. Its daffodils and tulips, the first flowers of the season. It’s a color that reminds us of the sun and happiness and all things yellow 😉
It’s what I want to taste and cook and put into every dish! That fresh citrus flavor that awakens the palette and announces a season of lighter brighter and fresher foods.
No better recipe to start with than something both lemony tart and sweet. These little bite size lemon “tarts” are a tried and true crowd pleaser. (Be sure to hide your stash before company arrives).
The lemon sabayon can be made ahead and keeps in the refrigerator for a few weeks (but only if well hidden 😉
The tart dough is really more like a shortbread dough. I make two batches and freeze the second for quick entertaining. You can really make sweet crackers, tart shells and even cookies from this not too sweet but super nutty dough.
2 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Yolks
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
6 Tbsp. Cold Unsalted Butter
Set up a double boiler. Whisk eggs, yolks and sugar until smooth. Set over the boiling water and whisk the mixture continuously and evenly for 2 minutes.
When the eggs look foamy and have begun to thicken add 1/3 of the lemon juice and continue to whisk vigorously. Never stop whisking. As it thickens add the remaining 2/3 lemon juice in two parts. Whisk approx. 10 minutes until it is thick and has turned very light yellow in color.
Turn off heat but leave over the warm water. One tablespoon at a time, add the butter and incorporate. It will loosen a little but thicken back up once in the fridge.
Set in the refrigerator to cool. The sabayon should be as thick as a spread.
*The sabayon can be spread on toast, crackers, pancakes or just enjoyed by the spoonful.
2 Cups Hazelnuts, finely ground
1/3 Cup Sugar
3 Cups Flour
8 Oz. Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Add ground hazelnuts, sugar and flour and combine well.
In a separate bowl combine butter, egg and vanilla – blend well.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well (best by hand).
Wrap the crumbly dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10 minutes at least.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter or spray mini muffin tins. Using your fingers add about 1 tbsp of dough per muffin tin and press down and to the sides, shaping the tart shells.
Bake 10 minutes until browned. Cool.
Add the lemon sabayon to each tart, filling to the top.
Dust with powdered sugar and then grate fresh lemon zest over the top of the tarts.
Now, bite into Spring!