Monday, February 8, 2016

Pan-Baked Lemon-Almond Tart

I have an interest in any recipe that includes lemon and the fact that this also includes eggs and almonds sweetens the deal. In the video for this recipe, Mark Bittman describes it more as an almond frittata than a "tart." It did make me wonder why it's called a tart. My best guess is that this does bear some similarities to tart filling as it combines cream and eggs and could turn out like a custard, but a better bet is that it'll get more page views as a "tart" than a "frittata."

Given the unusual nature of the recipe, I read through the comments carefully before making it. A lot of the people who tried it weren't particularly happy with the outcome. Some people complained that it tasted like scrambled eggs. Some said that it completely fell apart. Others said that it'd didn't set in the middle at all. No small number experienced it sticking to the pan. These were all concerns that didn't dissuade me so much as make me decide to alter the preparation a bit. I decided to take on each of these issues and alter the method to (hopefully) avoid the undesired outcome.

My initial inclination was to use a stainless steel pan, but the sticking issue made me reconsider and I went with an oven-safe non-stick pan instead. The comments about it being like scrambled eggs made me wonder if the ingredients weren't incorporated well enough in those cases or the ground almonds were too coarse. I got around this by using a blender to blend everything except the sliced almonds. I tossed everything in and then poured the mixture into a bowl then stirred in the sliced almonds at the end.

In terms of dealing with the failure to set, my best guess was that it was because of the high fat content of the cream making it too custard-like in the center so I used half and half instead of cream. Well, that's not precisely true. I used half and half because it is what I had on hand and I figured it could also, perhaps stop the problem with it not setting. Finally, though I kept all of the rest of the ingredients the same, I also added a teaspoon of vanilla as I've found it tends to round out strong lemon flavors in sweet dishes.

My dish set just fine and it smelled fantastic. This is what it looked like after the baking. I did not bother to put it under the broiler as it was brown enough for me already:

I decided another thing that I'd do to decrease the chances that it would fall apart was to allow it to cool a fair bit before removing it. When I put a plate on the top and un-molded it, all but a few little bits came out. It was happy that it came out so clean, but the pale bottom wasn't so appealing looking so I took another plate and flipped it over again. That was probably not a good idea as a few cracks formed in it as the top was wider than the bottom and it was too delicate to support the structure. I noted that even the picture on the Times recipe page shows a slice with a crack in it (though it is largely covered and obscured by angle and powdered sugar). I'm guessing this isn't easily going to stay together as a solid mass.

In terms of the experience of eating it, it's definitely interesting and generally in a good way. The interior of mine was a bit like cottage cheese married to custard. It has a thick, rough, pudding type of consistency. The taste was super lemony. In fact, the almonds largely contributed texture since the lemon flavor overwhelmed nearly everything else. If I were to make this again, I'd cut down on the lemon flavoring, double the vanilla essence, and maybe add some almond extract to boost the almond flavor more. It could also, I think benefit from a touch of salt.

It's not a bad dish at all, and I'm pleased that I overcame the textural problems that commenters experienced, but I do believe the flavors need to be tweaked. I think this could be an excellent breakfast dish with a few adjustments.

Update: This was better the next day. The texture and flavors seemed to have "settled" in a way that is more cohesive. The lemon is still quite potent, but not as overwhelming. I'm storing the remaining slices in the refrigerator and found the second slice was better than the first. I did microwave the second slice for 10 seconds to remove the hard, cold feeling from it and bring it closer to room temperature, but I don't think is as good served warm.

Next time I make this, I will leave out the sliced almonds as I think they actually detract from the texture and are adding little to the flavor. Instead, I'll add a teaspoon of both almond and vanilla extract to round out the flavor profile and leave a cleaner textural experience. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please remember that there is a person on the other end of this blog. Consider whether or not you'd say what you're saying if you were face to face with me. And then consider that I have the power to ignore your comment if you have poor manners and that you'll be wasting your time if you're rude.