It has been brutally hot, like 90 degrees hot. It’s late at night and my phone says it’s still 80 degrees outside (I don’t even want to check for fear of letting out any cold air from the apartment). I guess this is goodbye, Winter. You were loved.
Not only is my body feeling this heat, but my mind has been on a cooking overload this weekend. My right eye is twitching as I write this. For lack of posting last week, I insisted on hammering out two posts this weekend (I’ll be uploading the other one in a few days!). Friday and Saturday were all about cakes. I went through four batches before any success, and Sunday was another hell in and of itself after my late night decision to make a citrus curd left me close to falling asleep over the stove as I stirred and stirred and stirred. This weekend was three very long days spent in the kitchen.
And somehow, at the end of it I wound up with these:
Blood Orange Tartlets with a chocolate crust and adorable mini meringue towers. Blood orange is the quintessential winter fruit. They’re gorgeous and yummy and bring some much needed color to a gray winter day. Plus, don’t they look super fancy too!!
There are three very important elements: 1) blood orange curd, 2) a chocolate crust, and 3) meringue! All are relatively simple and quick recipes, yet put together create this beautiful dessert. The easiest of the two recipes was the chocolate crust. It’s not a typical tart crust and felt more similar to a cookie based dough, meaning it was very forgiving and not temperamental inside the oven. Simple and easy going, you say? I can get down with that. The curd and meringue were a tiny bit more challenging, but still super doable.
Confession time! I am a blood orange n00b. I’m blaming it on being born and raised on an island in a constant state of summer, but the real reason is probably because it’s really hard for me to notice blood oranges apart from regular oranges at the grocery store. First of all, the produce section is pretty overwhelming sometimes. SO MANY COLORS. I’d never even noticed blood oranges until I went down to the supermarket specifically to buy said blood oranges. Even then, I’ll admit that it took me a few minutes of reading the labels figure out which ones even were blood oranges. Now that I’ve tasted, sliced, and chopped my way through four pounds of gorgeous blood oranges, I can ironically say that now I feel more familiar with a blood orange than a regular orange.
But for anyone who has yet to try it, for the most part blood oranges taste just like a normal orange. But though it was definitely a bit sweeter and not as tart as an average orange, the real treat was that stunning shade of red hiding beneath the peel.
Blood Orange Tarts
Recipe makes 6 five-inch tarts
For the blood orange curd (adapted from Cupcake Rehab):
*The color of the curd depends on the color of the blood oranges used. For a deep pink, look for blood oranges that are mostly red on the outside. For a lighter color, choose the reddish orange ones.
6 medium/4 large blood oranges (3 tsp of zest + juice from all oranges), plus extra oranges for decorating!
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter (1/2 a cup or 8 tbsp), room temperature
pinch of salt
1. Grate 3 tsp of zest from the blood oranges. Roll each orange on the counter with the palm of your hand to loosen the juices. Halve and squeeze as much juice as possible from all the blood oranges. Strain the juice into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the juice reduces to about 1 cup of liquid. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Add in the butter, cooled blood orange juice, and zest. Don’t worry if the mixture looks strange and splits, it will all combine once it is cooked! Transfer to a saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the liquid thickens. This can take between 10-20 minutes. The curd is done when it coats the back of a spoon and the curd will hold its shape when you wipe your finger down the spoon.
3. Run the curd through a strainer and into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set. The curd is best after sitting in the fridge overnight.
For the chocolate crust:
12 tbsp salted butter, room temperature (if you’re using unsalted butter, add in 1/2 a tsp of salt)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on low until smooth and combined. Add in the egg yolks and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, beating on a low speed until the mixture comes together and a dough begins to form. It will feel like a slightly drier cookie dough.
3. Press the dough into flat disc and cover in plastic wrap. Set aside to relax at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 400F.
4. When the dough is ready, split the disc into six equal pieces. Press one of the pieces into a 5 inch tart shell with a removable bottom. Make sure to press up and into the sides of the tart as well to get high sides. Transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes.
5. Cut six squares of parchment paper and crumple lightly. After the tarts are done freezing, use the parchment paper was a way to prevent the pie weights from touching the tart. Bake for 15 minutes.
6. Remove the tarts from the oven and take out the pie weights and parchment paper. Place the tarts back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely until ready to use.
For the meringue (watch this video from Jemma if you need some help):
3 egg whites (with absolutely no bits of yolks!)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1. Prepare your mixer and whisk attachment by wiping both throughly with a paper towel and a splash of vinegar. This will help to get rid of any leftover grease which can ruin your meringue.
2. Once the bowl is dried, pour in the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Start the mixer on a medium speed until the egg whites are still a bit frothy but are starting to hold their shape. While the mixer is running, slowly add in the sugar one spoonful at a time. As the meringue turns glossy, increase the speed to high.
3. After a few minutes, you can check to see if the sugar has been dissolved by rubbing a bit of the meringue between your fingers. If you feel any granules, continue to beat on high until the sugar has dissolved completely. The meringue is done when it reaches stiff peaks and is thick and glossy.
4. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and set aside as you prepare for assembly.
1. Spoon the blood orange curd evenly between all six tarts.
2. Pipe the meringue onto the curd as desired. Using a kitchen torch, lightly burn the edges of the meringue for a toasted look.
3. Decorate the rest of the tart with segmented pieces of blood oranges from any extra oranges. Serve immediately or let the curd and meringue set and harden slightly in the fridge.
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