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Strawberry Lime Tartelettes And A New Boyfriend

Remember a while back when I was going to give Pierre Herme some rest because I was all busy with another man? Well, meet my new boyfriend Christophe Michalak. Edible wouldn’t you say? Well, like a new boyfriend he is giving me "du fil a retordre"… Yep, he is giving me a hard time. Not that he is playing the three day rule without any phone call, but rather the three time recipe rule I have in the kitchen. You know the kind of boyfriend I am talking about. He looks good, presents well, he is popular, funny. You are attracted by a certain mysterious quality. The first date leaves you confident that there could be something there and subsequent ones leave you with a strange feeling, you don’t know "sur quel pied danser" (which foot to dance with). By the third date you are either giving up on the guy or you are pestered enough that you want to "break the code", get inside his head one more time because he is too darn genius for you to give up. Well, Christophe you make it very hard for me to like you!

Basically, when I pick up a new cookbook and try something from it, if it tastes yuck or fails after three times, I dump it or send it back. His marshmallow recipe left me confused just like after a first date…I was happy to try an egg white based recipe but decided after the first fiasco to stick to my trusted one. Don’t believe me? You should have a conversation with my mother when I handed her the KA bowl and beaters all glued with hot sugar syrup, egg whites and gelatin. Puzzled again when I tried his almond dough recipe which calls for one egg, then in the directions it reads "add the eggs"…"Hey honey! I have my glasses over my nose right?", then the pictures show what looks like a few egg yolks…Hmmm "Hey Michel, did you really proof-read your book?". I was starting to wonder if I was suffering from pastry amnesia.

Yes you look mysterious, mischievious and cute but Christophe your recipe and the book writing has me completely frustrated and mad…at you! I get that you are the World Champion of Pastry, I get that you are in charge of a prestigious pastry kitchen and I can understand the ego boost of publishing your favorite and gorgeously executed and photographed recipes. Oh yes, the book is a true feast for the eyes, however it is not written for the novice baker. You have to constantly read between the lines and think three step ahead…not a problem I am used to it…with recipes that are chemistry coherent.

I foresee a love and hate relationship with Christophe…not the cozy and fuzzy feelings that Pierre Herme or Richard Leach bring me when I settle on the couch with their creations. I love the concept of the book: one master recipe -5 variations. I fell in love with his tartelettes concept and was really excited to get going: his crust base is a 2 part almond short dough filled with frangipane (almond cream), after that the variations can be created. With experience you can read between the lines, but I hate that others might have difficulty doing so…and that would still be ok if the writing -recipes-pictures of step by step were all coherent. I don’t always bake from cookbooks, but new approaches, new methods, new chefs, not to mention pretty pictures always give me inspiration to make a recipe my own according to my palate and the practicality of a home kitchen.

In that regard, I am sure you won’t mind that I have reworked the recipe that inspired these Strawberry Lime Tartelettes. For example, instead of a pistachio paste in the whipped cream, I made a simple lime curd. Although you can’t tell from the pictures but half the tarts had the strawberries rest on a small pool of lime curd while the others on strawberry jam (pictures). While both versions were excellent, they were also very different. The recipe called for mascarpone which I kept but you could easily substitute cream cheese, ricotta cheese or a fresh young goat cheese. The recipe is on the format of the ones I am fond of: multi-step, yes, but which allow you to make the elements over a couple of days, at your own leisure and assembled at the last minute for maximum freshness. Very nice option when you are making 40 like I did, but also when you have guests over for dinner as fresh is always best with berries. Stay tuned for further installments of my nights with Christophe!

We love them so much that I am sending them off to Rachel who is hosting this month Sugar High FridayPie That Evoke Your Dreams (and for a good cause: read at the end of this post)These Strawberry Lime Tartelettes evoked dreams of spring, fuzzy cuddles on the couch and beautiful easy going relationships…like strawberries and lime.

Strawberry Lime Tartelettes.
Makes 8

Tartelettes Elements:
Almond Short Dough
Almond Cream
Lime Curd Whipped Cream
2-3 cups fresh hulled strawberries, cut in half
3/4 cup strawberry jam

For the Almond Short Dough:
190 gr. flour
20 gr. cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
90 gr. powdered sugar
130 gr. butter
35 gr. almond powder
pinch of salt
1 egg

Special equipment: 8 pastry rounds 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch tall (available here)

Sift the flour with the cornstarch, powdered sugar. Add the almond powder and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until you get small coarse crumbs. Add the egg and the salt. Mix with your hands until just combined. Roll into a ball onto a plastic sheet, cover with another plastic sheet and flatten to a smal disk. Refrigerate one hour or overnight. You can do the whole thing in a food processor. When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes. The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months.
Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

For the Almond Cream:
100 gr. butter softened
100 gr. sugar
100 gr. almond powder
2 eggs
5 cl heavy cream

Place the butter, sugar, almond powder and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream but stir in it instead of whisking so as not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Place 8 baked rounds of dough in 8 pastry rings, divide the cream evenly among the rings and bake 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool.

For the Lime Curd Whipped Cream:
grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup strained lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
200 gr. mascarpone, softened
2000 gr. (20cl)heavy cream

Combine the zest, sugar, juice in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, beat the egg until light. Beat some of the lime mixture into the eggs to temper. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook stirring constantly until it thickens up, about 5 minutes. Remove the curd from the heat, let cool completely.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the mascarpone and cooled lime curd until incorporated, add the heavy cream and whisk until firm and medium stiff peaks form.

To assemble the tartelettes:
Divide the jam evenly over the bottom of each tart crust, arrange the strawberry halves decoratively on top.With a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the whipped cream in the middle and decorate with grated lime zest if desired.

Printable version of the recipe here.

Check Rachel’s site for the round up on the 29th. In the meantime, if this sounds delicious, make a contribution to a non-profit helping to transform the world of food through pie- Pie Ranch. Please specify "Pie Ranch/Green Oaks Fund” in the "Designation" field of the online donation form (Pie Ranch is fiscally sponsored by the Rudolph Steiner Foundation) here.

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myriam February 20, 2008 um 7:55 pm

that new guy of yours… truly handsome and obviously talented as hell. i love your little tart. could bite right into it. yep!

Cheryl February 20, 2008 um 8:05 pm

Look at you and your boyfriends. But they sure do help you produce some fantastic desserts.

Anonymous February 20, 2008 um 8:08 pm

good job altering the recipe to fit your needs. and i understand your three recipe rule. i’m going to indulge in one more 'date' with one of my books… we’ll see…

RecipeGirl February 20, 2008 um 8:20 pm

Ug- that’s so frustrating when the directions don’t seem to meld with the ingredients. I actually had that happen on a Dorie recipe recently.

They’re very pretty- well done!

Jade February 20, 2008 um 8:22 pm

i think these are gorgeous – perked me up on this freezing wednesday….

Anonymous February 20, 2008 um 9:35 pm

I hate it when there are inconsistencies in recipes.
Delicious looking tartlets!

Cannelle Et Vanille February 20, 2008 um 9:53 pm

Helen- I was so anxious to read about who your new obsession was and here he is! Crazy because I just talked to you about him! We must be in the same wave length. I can’t get over it! And what is also funny is that I am teaching a class in a couple of weeks and that I am making strawberry tarts similar to these. I will be making a sable breton base with mascarpone cream in the middle. This is awesome!

Cannelle Et Vanille February 20, 2008 um 9:53 pm

Also, I didn’t know he has a book out. What’s the name of it? I suppose I can look it up it Amazon France…

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict….You Decide February 20, 2008 um 10:29 pm

Picture perfect!! Although, purrrsonally I can overlook the ingredient snafu because he is so damn cute and I am not making the tarts……you, on the other hand, are probably ready to throttle him hahahaha. Your pastries are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Brilynn February 20, 2008 um 10:30 pm

That is so frustrating! He’s all looks and no substance!

JEP February 20, 2008 um 10:35 pm

Mmm..lime curd & mascarpone! I am not familiar with almond powder—where do you buy it?

Anonymous February 20, 2008 um 10:48 pm

Oh yes.. he’s a cutie. But like you, I would have to have a little chat with him about his lack of attention to detail! 🙂 Beautiful tartelettes!

Gretchen Noelle February 20, 2008 um 11:19 pm

Loving these tarts! Too bad about the boyfriend. Hopefully he will straighten out after a few more dates. 🙂

La cuisine des 3 soeurs February 20, 2008 um 11:33 pm

Depuis que Michalak a sorti son livre, j’ai fait les tartelettes, elles sont excellentes, et les macarons au citron. Je vais tester les éclairs, surtout celui à la cerise.

BitterSweet February 20, 2008 um 11:33 pm

Aw Helen, can’t you save any of the cute ones for the rest of us? 😉 Sounds like quite the soap-opera romance though, so I certainly wouldn’t get in the middle of this one. Hope you two can make beautiful pastries together!

Katia Mangham February 20, 2008 um 11:38 pm

Yup…sure is handsome. Unfortunately it sounds like it stops there. lol

Although good inspiration is worth it weight in gold, so sounds like the new book purchase was worth it.
The tarts are as pretty as I am sure they are delicious.

Anonymous February 21, 2008 um 12:07 am

If mouth-watering ever needed visual representation, this would be it.

Strawberry and Lime – I can’t stop myself from drooling.

Anonymous February 21, 2008 um 12:10 am

How pretty those are! I was just looking at the bowl of limes on my counter today and planning to make some curd…now that I’ve seen these tarts, I think they would be a great way to use it! Yum!

glamah16 February 21, 2008 um 12:21 am

This new boyfriend is inarticulate like a lot of men. They cant really say what they mean. Leave it to a brillant woman to make sense of it all.Give him another chance.He’s picture perfect at least:-)

Anonymous February 21, 2008 um 1:44 am

this is what happens when you try to leave pierre herme!

i love the lime/berry combination, with pretty much any kind of berry. almost like a cherry lime rickey in tiny tart form.

Ginny February 21, 2008 um 1:53 am

Haha! I often think of my cookbooks as friends or lovers…those that you turn to for comfort and those that you turn to for excitement…

The tartelettes look beautiful! I wish I could have a bite!

Peabody February 21, 2008 um 2:04 am

I have seen a cookbook of his…yes, not for the novice baker indeed.
What glorious tartelettes you have there!

Jaime February 21, 2008 um 3:26 am

yum! i’m drooling over here…

Aimée February 21, 2008 um 3:27 am

Beautiful presentation, Helen. I am a bit shy, but please feel free to drop by my blog to collect an 'E for excellence' award…There’s no one more deserving!

Manggy February 21, 2008 um 5:21 am

Gosh, I only wish the pastry books I see can be as good as the ones sold in France and Japan.. Even if it’s not that well-written, heh 🙂
Beautiful tarts! I’ve not yet experienced a strawberry-lime combination but it sounds yummy!

Meeta K. Wolff February 21, 2008 um 7:04 am

I do not know what I find more edible your tart or Christophe LOL! No seriously your tarts are probably easier to eat – they look gorgeous!

Mercotte February 21, 2008 um 7:04 am

Tiens, tiens, une nouvelle admiratrice de Christophe Michalak !!! je te comprends tout à fait !! jolies tartelettes comme d’hab !!!

Alhya February 21, 2008 um 7:06 am

comment résister à ta description, honnêtement? elles ont l’air tout bonnement parfaites, et je retiens tout, jusqu’à l’ajout de mascarpone dans le mélange au citron, il faut que j’essaie!

Amy February 21, 2008 um 7:47 am

This reminds me of sipping a strawberry limeade in summer. They look gorgeous. 🙂

Stella February 21, 2008 um 12:49 pm

I’d love to be in your place Helene.. I’m so jealous!

And these tartelettes are lip smacking!

LyB February 21, 2008 um 1:44 pm

Helen, I loved this post! The analogy of a first date, un nouveau copain qui te donne du fil à retordre, j’adore! Beautiful tartelettes, they look so fresh!

Vineela February 21, 2008 um 4:53 pm

Love the tartlettes, Helen

Evelin February 21, 2008 um 6:03 pm

I’m getting a bit worried. Don’t you think you’re changing your boyfriends a little too often?:)

Or, what the hell, what’s to mind. I’m into intrigues;)

When I’m altering a recipe by a 'grand master' I always feel a bit weird – who am I to do something like this? But, well, it does pay off most of the time. You’ve done it awfully well!

Finla February 21, 2008 um 6:13 pm

Yummy. They looks so delicious.
ANd anjoy the time with your new boyfriend. Together with you we are enjoying him too 🙂

Gabi February 21, 2008 um 6:22 pm

Your beau jest is delightful as are the pics of those toothsome tarts! I am also frustrated when a cookbook is not proof-read or recipe tested, nice job recovering in the spirit of the idea.
x x x

Dana February 21, 2008 um 7:04 pm

Ugh, I totally understand your frustration. I love the analogy to an iffy first date — you’re not sure, but somehow you keep giving him second and third chances! Hahaha. Well, your versions sound very tasty indeed :).

My Sweet & Saucy February 21, 2008 um 7:14 pm

Thanks for all the comments you left on my blog! You are too nice! Anyways, your strawberry lime tartelettes are so beautiful. I love small desserts!

Patricia Scarpin February 21, 2008 um 7:17 pm

Talk about passion… Almond, strawberry, lime?? A girl after my own heart, Helen!

Rosie February 21, 2008 um 7:56 pm

I just love the tartlettes with lime curd and mascarpone just divine mmmmmm…. 🙂

M February 21, 2008 um 9:07 pm

The boyfriend is edible! LOL I think strawberry and lime make such a good combination. These look amazing. 🙂

giz February 22, 2008 um 12:45 am

After seeing this recipe – he can drop crumbs on my couch anytime – what a show stopper and I just love the combination of strawberries and lime – really fresh.

monica February 22, 2008 um 2:11 am

boys will be boys and always so fickle. but your tarts are beautiful despite your grievances. i love seeing what you’re up to each week!

La Tartine Gourmande February 22, 2008 um 2:19 am

Fun story Helen for lovely tartlets!

Anonymous February 22, 2008 um 3:50 am

I’m trying to get my hands on Michalak’s cookbook! arghhhh 🙂 Take it easy on him! haha
I love those tartelettes!

Rachel Medanic February 22, 2008 um 5:47 am

Hooray to your innovative spirit for sharing this "recipe as affair" with Christophe and his ill-edited cookbook! Your creativity and flair is a wonderful contribution to this month’s SHF!

Jen Yu February 22, 2008 um 11:44 am

I loved this post! You had me giggling the whole while 🙂 You have such patience with your "beaus", ha ha ha! What a masterful creation – limes with berries are sublime! Your tarts are perfection, as always.

Cakelaw February 22, 2008 um 11:50 am

Gorgeous looking tarts – I can’t believe that you had the patience to make 40 of them in pastry rings!

Anonymous February 22, 2008 um 2:36 pm

Sometimes you have to work at the best of relationships. Also, always remember… there are other fish in the sea! 🙂

Beautiful tartlets!

How To Eat A Cupcake February 22, 2008 um 5:34 pm

Mmmmm they look great! And your pictures are fantastic!

Anonymous February 22, 2008 um 7:16 pm

Awww congrats on the new relationship! I have a bit of a new one myself, today is our one month!

MyKitchenInHalfCups February 23, 2008 um 10:23 am

Love your write up on this one Helen! And I really enjoy your boy friends. Best I like reading about how you think!

Half Baked February 23, 2008 um 2:01 pm

I think you could teach your new "boyfriend" a thing or two:) He is really cute though;) Love the tartlettes can’t wait for fresh strawberries so I can give this one a try!

Anonymous February 23, 2008 um 7:30 pm

Oh Lordie!
Soooooo paintable your strawberry tartelette!

Domestic Goddess March 3, 2008 um 1:09 am

And I thought I was the only one who had love/hate relationships with my cookbooks! Your tart is the perfect marriage between strawberry and lime and it’s gorgeous.

Thank you so much for participating in SHF this month and I hope we’ll see you out next month as well!

Caroline September 25, 2008 um 9:15 pm

this sounds so good! i want to make it now

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