A Lemon-Berry Tart and a vote of confidence

I might be overdoing it with the desserts this summer; it feels like I don’t know anything else but sweet delights.  Still, who can resist so much ripeness and aromas, and ultimately so much fresh fruit left and right?  I know I can’t, and I want to take full advantage while they last.  And besides, there are so many different and versatile desserts to create.  Today, I have a tart for you – a Lemon-Berry Tart
 
Have I told you that my parents-in-law are visiting us these days?  Yep…for a short while.  So, here’s my dilemma.  When we have visitors I usually prefer to cook or bake things that I’ve already perfected or at least I’m familiar with; I don’t like stepping into unfamiliar territory and start experimenting.  But my mother-in-law is all about the innovative, the different and the odd. She wanted me to cook something new and she insisted on being my guinea pig.  Needless to say I was terrified.  My brain froze.  My entire world came to a halt.  The guinea pig job belongs to Adrian – he’s my first taster and the one who first criticizes the new recipes!  But who can argue with the mother-in-law?  So, I said a quick prayer and went for it. 
 
I had some extra berries leftover from yet another one of these.  And I really loved how the raspberries and blackberries turned out in the Plum-Berry Upside-Down Cake, so I thought that they might also work beautifully in this Lemon-Berry Tart.  And they did.  The tart was stunning – a glossy canary yellow lemon-flavored custard with the consistency of crystallized honey, dotted with red and dark berries, and defined by a thin mildly sweet crust.  Dreamy… 
There was some extra custard, which didn’t make it into the tart but made it into a ramekin and went into the oven next to the bubbling tart.  When we took a bite from the tiny ramekin, it was like savoring a lemon crème brulee – heavenly!  
When the tart came out, we were mesmerized.  Both my mother-in-law and I kept staring at it, hesitating to dive the knife in it and disturbing the perfection in front of us.  But we couldn’t contain our excitement and had to taste it!  The tart was so elegant, so delicate, and oh so lemony.  Sweet and sinful in one spoonful.  The tart passed the test and so did I.
Lemon-Berry Tart
Adapted from Our Best Desserts Magazine (Spring 2012)
Serves: 8-9 servings
The recipe calls for a 9-inch pie plate; I didn’t have that (but I’m planning on getting one, soon), so I used my 10-inch tart plate and it worked out perfectly.
Ingredients for the Sweet Butter Pastry:
·         1 cup all-purpose flour
·         3 Tablespoons sugar
·         ¼ teaspoon salt
·         ¼ cup cold butter
Ingredients for the Custard:
·         3 eggs, at room temperature
·         2 egg whites, at room temperature
·         ¾ cup sugar
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         ¼ cup grated lemon zest (set aside)
·         ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
·         ¼ cup butter, melted
·         1 cup fresh raspberries
·         1 cup fresh blackberries
Instructions for the Sweet Butter Pastry:
Preheat oven to 400°F. 
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, the sugar and the salt.  Put the ingredients in a food processor and add the cold butter.  Pulse the ingredients together until the pieces of butter are pea size.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl and sprinkle 1 Tablespoon cold water over part of the mixture; toss gently with a fork.  Push moistened dough to side of bowl.  Repeat with additional cold water, 1 Tablespoon at a time (4 to 5 Tablespoons in total), until all of the flour and butter mixture is moistened.  Shape into a ball. 
On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough.  Roll dough from center to edge into a 12-inch circle.  Wrap pastry around rolling pin; unroll into a 9-inch tart or pie plate.  Ease pastry into tart or pie plate without stretching it.  Trim pastry to ½ inch beyond edge of tart or pie plate.  Fold under extra pastry.  Crimp edge as desired.  Prick bottom and side of pastry with a fork.  Line pastry with double thickness of foil.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove foil.  Bake for 5 to 6 minutes more or until pastry is golden.  Cool on a wire rack. 
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.     
Instructions for the Custard:
In a large bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until thicker and lemon colored.  Stir in melted butter and lemon zest. 
Place raspberries and blackberries in bottom of backed pastry shell.  Pour lemon mixture over berries.  Bake about 30-35 minutes or until lemon mixture is set.  Cool on a wire rack.
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)

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