In the small town of The Plains, Virginia, about 8 minutes from my front door, the legendary Virginia Gold Cup takes place each year on the first Saturday in May. This year will be the 88th running of this steeplechase race tradition, always on the same day as the Kentucky Derby. Over 50,000 spectators come to beautiful Fauquier County from all around the metropolitan DC area, and beyond, dressed in their finest dresses, hats, suits and bow ties. It's the social event of the spring!
Obviously, with any splendid social event comes food! Gorgeous spreads of food, drinks and beautifully decorated tables, are found in the sponsored tents and tailgating spots throughout Great Meadow.
This year, although being held a day before Cinco de Mayo, a friend is having a "key lime theme" - everything key limes. What fun! My contribution to this delightful cuisine theme are my colorful and luscious key lime curd & mascarpone tartlets! I took photos for the blog during a trial run a few weeks ago, so I have the pleasure of enjoying them twice!
Key lime curd's beautiful shade of yellow, with its tangy flavor, and the creamy, sweetened texture from delicious mascarpone cheese, are blended together and encased in a free-formed, sweet shortcrust pastry shell. These tartlets are unforgettable! Hope you agree!
Until next time...mangia! xox
Key Lime Curd & Mascarpone Tartlets
Yield: Key Lime Curd - approximately 2 cups / Tartlets - 24
for the key lime curd:
6 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use - I use them for egg white omelets)
1 cup granulated sugar
zest from 1 lb. bag of key limes
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice (juice yielded from the same 1 lb. bag of key limes)
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
for the sweet shortcrust pastry:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp cold butter, chopped
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 egg yolks (reserve whites for another use)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon iced water
for the key lime curd & mascarpone filling:
key lime curd (approximately 2 cups)
8 ounce container of a good mascarpone (drained of any liquid)
heaping 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
additional 1/8 cup confectioners sugar for dusting tartlets (optional)
mint leaves for garnish (optional)
Create the Key Lime Curd & Mascarpone Tartlets:
prepare the key lime curd:
In a bowl, whisk together until smooth, the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk in the zest and juice from the key limes. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the whisked mixture, and the 1/2 cup of butter pieces. Continue to watch and stir often with a heat proof spatula. Do not leave unattended. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture begins to thicken, about 15 minutes, or until a thermometer reaches 170 degrees F. If you are not using a thermometer, test doneness with the back of a wooden spoon. It should coat the spoon, and if you run your finger through it, it should leave a clear path on the spoon. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
Pour the curd through a strainer over a bowl, then pour into jar(s). The strainer will catch any of the remaining zest or congealed egg. Cool to room temperature, seal jar(s), and store in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
prepare the sweet shortcrust pastry:
Place the flour, butter, and confectioners sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process in short bursts until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the motor is running, add the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the iced water and process until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together to form a ball. Flatten into a two equally sized discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Roll one of the pastry discs out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to approximately 1/8" thick. With a round shaped cookie cutter, large enough to line the cups of a mini cupcake pan, cut 12 circles. Repeat with the other disc. Line a lightly greased mini cupcake pan(s) with the 24 pastry circles. Free form each circle into each cup. Prick the base of each with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line each cup with mini cupcake papers, fill with ceramic pie weights (or rice or dry beans) and bake for 9 minutes. Remove the weights and papers (be careful-hot!), and bake for an additional 8 - 9 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool.
prepare the key lime curd & mascarpone filling:
In a bowl, mix together the key lime curd and mascarpone. Add in a heaping 1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in the refrigerator to chill until ready to fill the tartlet shells.
assemble the tartlets:
Fill each tart shell with the key lime curd & mascarpone filling, about 2 teaspoons. Loosely cover the plate of tarts with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve, up to 24 hours ahead. Lightly dust with confectioners sugar and garnish with a mint leaf just prior to serving, if desired. The tartlets keep well for several days in the refrigerator, but trust me, they will not last that long!
- This is a wonderful make ahead recipe! The curd can be made up to a week ahead or more. The tartlet shells can be made a day ahead. The tartlets can be assembled a day ahead and kept chilled in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- I used a 2:1 ratio for the filling - 2 cups curd:1 cup mascarpone to get more key lime flavor. You can use a ratio of your choosing, or just curd alone.
- If you prefer, just make the key lime curd! Use it to spread on hot scones, toast, fill cupcakes, line layers of cake, add to oatmeal, or eat by the spoonful! ;) You may choose to create a different size tart as well! Use your imagination, and have fun!
- You will have enough filling for approximately 36 tartlet shells. You can make an additional 1/2 pastry recipe, or use it in the same ways mentioned for the curd.
- When looking to buy your key limes, look for a yellowish color or yellow spots on the skin. This color shows they were picked ripened on the tree. If they are dark green, they were picked too early - still fine to use, but may be a bit more bitter.
The Sweet Shortcrust Pastry recipe is adapted from Donna Hay. This delicious pastry was also used in my Blueberry and Lemon Mascarpone Tart found here.
The Key Lime Curd and Key Lime Curd & Mascarpone filling are a cup of mascarpone's own recipes.