Thursday, March 22, 2012

Orange and Brown-Butter Tart Love

Who doesn't love that "creamsicle" combo of oranges and vanilla? Start with a buttery crust, add a creamy vanilla custard, top with sweet/tart oranges add a hint of orange liqueur...and fall  head-over-heels.
If you can find blood oranges (they are in season now!) they add to the drama of this tart and guarantee gasps of delight from your guests! I like to make the tart crust the day before to cut down the workload, but it is all easily completed an afternoon.

Orange and Brown-Butter Tart
by Joanne Weir from fine Cooking

For the tart shell
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
Pinch of table salt
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

For the filling
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups whole milk
3 Tbs. cornstarch
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher or table salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the topping
3 large navel or blood oranges, or a combination
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 Tbs. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau

Make the tart shell
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt a few times to combine. Add the butter
and orange zest and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal, six to eight 1-second
pulses. A teaspoon at a time, pulse in up to 1 Tbs. water until the dough just holds together
in clumps. Press the dough together, shape into a 6-inch disk, and wrap in plastic.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a
removable bottom—
the dough sides should be 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. To smooth the bottom,
cover with plastic wrap and press with a flat-bottom measuring cup or glass. (This didn't work for me, so I used my clean hands) Freeze the covered shell for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat
the oven to 400°F.
Remove the plastic, line the dough with parchment and fill with dry beans or pie weights.
Bake the tart shell until the top edges are light golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove
the parchment and beans, reduce the heat to 375°F, and continue to bake until the shell is
golden all over, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Don't be tempted to forgo the refrigeration after making the dough and before baking, it is important to a flaky crust

Notice the bottom is uneven? It didn't seem to make a difference.

Below: I love my pie weights!!

Make the filling
In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it melts and the milk
solids turn brown, swirling the pan occasionally for even browning, about 3 minutes.
Immediately pour into a small heatproof bowl to stop the cooking.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Whisk in the eggs.
In a medium saucepan, bring the remaining 1-3/4 cups milk, the sugar, and salt to a boil
over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat, whisk about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the
egg mixture, and then whisk the egg mixture into the hot milk.
Return to medium heat and
continue whisking until the filling boils and becomes very thick, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Off
the heat, whisk in the brown butter and vanilla.

Spread the filling evenly in the tart shell and set aside at room temperature while you
prepare the topping.

Heat the butter just until you see the milk solids turn brown.

Be sure to "temper" the eggs as directed in the recipe, by whisking some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs before combining the entire lot! ...and stir like hell to avoid lumpy custard.

You can fill the crust while the custard is still warm

Make the topping
Using a sharp knife, trim off the peel and pith from the oranges. Halve the oranges
lengthwise and then slice them thinly crosswise and remove any seeds. Arrange the orange
slices on the top of the tart in concentric, slightly overlapping circles.
Stir the marmalade in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted, 30 to 60 seconds.
Strain and then stir in the Cointreau. Brush enough of the mixture on the oranges to give
them a shine (you may not need it all). Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving so the filling
can set up.

Remove as much pith as possible from the oranges and slice the them as thinly as possible (I think mine are a little thick here). I sliced them, then cut each one in half.

Brush with the topping mixture.
(I saved the strained bits for my morning toast, yum)

A pretty cake pedestal for your masterpiece!

A slice of orange and brown-butter tart and a cup of coffee, perfection. Enjoy!

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