Loving two types of lemon ‘blossoms’

Certain recipes or baking concepts often keep floating my way. I believe this is due to algorithms, or what have you, where whatever bent you are on via the Internet boomerangs all manner on the subject back to you.

I also still believe in synchronicity, search engines be damned, and when I had my mind on little flower or daisy-shaped tarts filled with lemon curd, my finding of recipes of directions for said treats seemed to unfold by the multitude.

Most recipes weren’t even recipes. They suggested rolling out refrigerator pie crust, cutting it with a flower-shaped cookie cutter, coaxing the pastry flowers into mini muffin tins, baking, then dusting with powdered sugar and filling with bought lemon curd. Have you priced store-bought lemon curd lately? I was up for just making the stuff myself, knowing it could be easily conjured from sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest, salt, egg yolks and a finish of butter. In the space of 1/2 hour, I’d made my lemon curd, filling two four-ounce jars.

I didn’t really want to buy pie crust either, although that would be a very easy route to take. Still, I made a butter-based pastry in a matter of moments and put it in the fridge alongside the curd to chill. This particular crust recipe, Classic Pie Dough from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking,” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito ( Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 2008), is an all-butter dough that is really easy to roll out. Once chilled and rolled out, I was soon amassing some flower cutouts from the dough.

I gently pressed the little flowers into mini muffin tins, flattening their “petals” slightly. Then I poked holes with a baby fork to allow a little steam release while baking.

These buttery little shells baked up beautifully. They seemed sturdy and ready for a dose of lemon curd in their centers. First a sprinkling of powdered sugar, then just enough curd to fill them. Oh, they were adorable, and I was sure they would taste marvelous!

One or two bites…rich, tart creamy curd and a buttery pastry crust. I was transported to lemon meringue pies of my past (my mom’s favorite). No meringue here, but the soft sweetness of the powdered sugar provided a little nudge in that direction. So cute and so yummy… I was well-pleased and although I was not hosting a tea party, I imagined these beauties at one, maybe sometime in the future.

But I wasn’t done with he lemon blossom concept. I still had some lemon curd left. And I had a package of puff pastry in the freezer, and had also seen lemon-filled flower pastries made with it.

It had been awhile since I’d worked with puff pastry dough. It took just a moment to roll out the cracks or folds from its tucked position in the package. I first rolled out and cut some flower shapes that were solid.

I then cut out flowers and cut a small hole in the center. This would provide the cavity to hold the curd.

I first brushed some egg wash on the solid flower shapes. I then placed a flower with the hole in the center on top, brushed with more egg wash and sprinkled with sparkling sanding sugar.

Voila! Perfect little flower-shaped pastry shells, larger than the pie-crust version, but, too, seemingly a solid “container” for a spoonful or so of lemon curd.

I used a small cookie scoop to dip up some lemon curd and fill the pastry shells.

I  also took it one step further and served these with a homemade blueberry sauce, easily made by stewing a couple of cups of blueberries with a little water, sugar and lemon juice. A finish of whipped cream and this was a real dessert.

These were more than a mouthful, but no less luscious, almost as ample as any bakery danish….Lemon Danish Daisies? The puffy, layered pastry shells certainly complimented the lemon curd, and with the blueberry sauce and cream, they were certainly decadent, but just small enough to not be overfilling.

I could not pick a favorite of the two. I just knew this spring seemed to be blooming up some new favorites.

Mini Lemon Blossom Tarts

Makes 12

1 pkg. refrigerator pie crust or your favorite recipe for a one-crust pie pastry

1/2 to 2/3 cup lemon curd (see recipe below)

Confectioner’s sugar

You will need two 12- or 16-cavity nonstick mini muffin pans. 

Heat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface oll pie pastry to 1/8 inch thickness. Use a 4-inch flower-shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough. Gently coax the flower shapes into the mini muffin cavities, leaving empty cavities in between. Press the dough into the cavities and push the petals down around the top. Prick holes in the bottom and sides of the dough. Bake the pastry flowers for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Allow pastry flowers to cool a bit, then remove to cool fully on a wire rack.

When ready to serve, place the pastry flowers on a serving tray and dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar. 

Using a small spoon or a pastry bag, fill pastry flowers with a teaspoon or two of lemon curd filling.

Lemon Danish Daisies

Makes 6 pastries

1 pkg. puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator for a day or two

1 egg

Sparkling sugar

3/4 to 1 cup lemon curd (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 425°. Unfold one sheet of pastry on a lightly floured board. Using a floured rolling pin, roll pastry to remove creases and extend the size a bit. Use 4-inch daisy-shaped cookie cutter to cut approximately six flowers. Place them a few inches apart on a large-parchment.

Take the second sheet of puff pastry and roll out similarly, cutting six more flower shapes. Using a 1-inch round cutter, cut a hole in the center of each.

Beat the egg slightly with one teaspoon water. Brush the edges of the solid flowers on the parchment-lined sheet. Top each with a flower with the hole in the center. Brush the tops of the flowers with a little egg wash and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes until puffed and golden. Take a small paring knife and gently “collapse the pastry in the center (don’t poke the knife all the way through) to make a cavity for filling. Allow the pastries to cool completely.

Fill each with about a tablespoonful of lemon curd. Serve with blueberry sauce (recipe below).

Easy Lemon Curd

Makes about 1-1/2 cups

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

Zest of one lemon

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature.

In a small saucepan, combine egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Heat on low, whisking constantly (important to keep it from scorching). Cook about 10 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken.

Immediately off the heat, add the butter in a few cubes at a time, whisking after each addition, until all butter has been added and melted and mixed in. Pour lemon curd into a small bowl or jar. Press plastic wrap on top to keep a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temp, then refrigerate to chill completely.

Blueberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Heat all the ingredients on low in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally. Allow to simmer for up to 15 minutes, until the berries have broken down and the sauce has thickened. Allow to cool; store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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