Today is the first post on the vacation schedule even though it is technically the last day before I actually leave for said vacation. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we are digging through the archives for a recipe that was made all the way back in February during the glorious 14 days of the year that comprise lemon plum season.
So what exactly is a lemon plum? Only one of the most excitingly delicious things to grow on our lovely planet. Unlike most other plums, they are fully ripe when they transition from a sunny lemony yellow to a bright reddish-orange hue. From a bit of trial and error, I’ve come to learn that these plums are actually at their best when they’re just barely soft to the touch – they end up with a delightfully floral flavor that is quite unlike anything else in the world.
The only downside is that they are quite rare and only ripe for about two weeks out of the entire year. I only stumbled upon them through a serendipitous trek to Costco during just the right weekend.
Although I could hardly bear to dilute their fruity goodness by serving them in any way other than plain, I figured that, as a dessert blogger, I really did have to somehow find a way to share the glory of lemon plums with the dessert blogosphere. (Do people still use that term? Or has it become antiquated?) As a result, this week’s recipe involves the perfect way to showcase fresh, delicious fruit in their fully uncooked form. Unlike last year’s plumcot galette, which involved baking the fruit along with the pie crust, this lemon plum tart involves a pre-baked crust, a light and fluffy whipped filling, and freshly sliced fruit to preserve the delicate flavors that would be otherwise mangled by a 400 degree oven.
Side note – you will make way too much creme diplomat for this recipe. You really only need about 1/4 cup. I used leftovers from my vanilla espresso cake, but feel free to use your creme diplomat as the perfect frosting for your favorite cake recipe (or, you know, as a snack to eat with a spoon).
So if you’re looking for the perfect way to feature the nuances in your favorite summer fruit (or something to eagerly anticipate about the most bitingly chilly month of the year), give this fresh fruit tart a try. Hope you enjoy!
Lemon Plum Tart
Makes 6 mini tarts
120 g all purpose flour
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbs butter, chilled and sliced into thin pats
1 1/2 tbs vodka
1 1/2 tbs ice water, as needed
Vanilla Bean Creme Diplomat:
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean pod, cut in half and scraped for seeds (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 egg yolk
2 tbs granulated sugar
20 g all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
3 lemon plums, halved and pitted or sliced
- Place the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse lightly to mix.
- Add in the cold butter in large chunks and pulse just until the flour is fully incorporated and the mixture resembles very coarse corn meal with a few larger clumps.
- Add the vodka to the flour-butter mixture in the food processor until it comes together. At this point, keep adding ice water as needed just until the dough just comes together and isn’t crumbly. I didn’t add any water, but you might need up to 1 tbs.
- Mold dough into a round disc about 1″ thick, cover in saran wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
Tip: If you’re pressed for time, you can also chill in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes!
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F and grease six 5″ mini tart/quiche pans. Roll out the tart crust so that it is about 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick, cut into large circles, and line the mini tart/quiche pans with the tart crust.
- Prick each tart crust well with a fork, then bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the tart crust turns to a golden-brown. Set aside to cool!
Vanilla Bean Creme Diplomat:
- Heat the milk and vanilla bean seeds in a small pot on medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low. Set aside half of the vanilla milk for another recipe.
Tip: The vanilla milk freezes really well in an ice cube tray!
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the sugar is nearly fully dissolved and the egg is frothy. Whisk in the flour and set aside.
Tip: After adding the flour, your mixture will be very pasty and thick. Don’t worry – that’s exactly what it ought to be!
- Pour in about 1/2 of the remaining boiling milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking quickly as you pour.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the pot through a sieve, whisking quickly as you pour. Continue whisking until the pastry cream thickens to the consistency of thick pudding, then remove from heat.
Tip: Always make sure to mix your eggs into the milk by tempering them with hot milk, then pouring through the sieve rather than dumping them all in at once. No matter how many times and how quickly I’ve tried to whisk while pouring in untempered eggs, I always ended up with unpleasantly eggy pastry cream because some of the egg inevitably scrambles as it hits the hot milk. After lots of sadness, disappointment, and wasted pastry cream, I finally started to use this tempering method as a virtually fool-proof strategy for keeping pastry cream (or any other type of custard) scrambled eggs-free!
- Pour the mixture into another bowl, cover the surface with saran wrap, and set aside to cool completely.
Tip: Make sure the saran wrap touches the surface of the pastry cream when you cover the bowl to prevent a skin from forming at the top of your pastry cream if the surface dries out.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until it reaches stiff peaks. At this point, when you lift out the whisk, you should see distinct peaks with tips that do not curl over.
Tip: It is very important to make sure that your cream reaches stiff peaks, or else the creme diplomat will not hold when you frost! That said, make sure to stop as soon as you hit stiff peaks, or else you will start churning butter instead of whipped cream.
- Beat the cooled pastry cream to loosen, then fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream at a time until fully incorporated. Set aside for filling (and storing)!
- Spoon a small amount of creme diplomat into each tart and spread to fill, then top with sliced fruit. Serve immediately. Enjoy!