Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Tart with a Chocolate Cookie Crust

It's almost spring, and my feet are tingling with anticipation of wearing flip flops...  but not quite yet.  There are still a few patches of snow - covered in dirt by now - in shady areas where the sun hasn't melted the snow, and although we've been enjoying weather in the 60s this week, you never know with Colorado!  We may still get more snow.  So my boots are still standing by.

But although the weather is unpredictable and it's still getting pretty cold at night, I'm loving these warm sunny days and the hint of spring in the air.

We've been enjoying cooking with citrus the past few months, and I've just recently discovered Meyer Lemons.  I've heard of them, but never seen them available in our grocery store before.  So when I saw bags of Meyer Lemons last week, of course I had to buy some.  I wasn't worried that I didn't have a plan for how to use them - how hard is it to come up with something lemony and delicious?  If someone gave me a bag of fruit to cook with every week, it would make me as happy, maybe even happier, than getting a bouquet of flowers!

Meyer Lemons are a citrus fruit native to China, although I never did hear of them while living there - perhaps because they use them more for ornamental purposes.  They are a cross between a lemon and an orange, named for  Frank Nicholas Meyer who collected samples of the fruit while visiting China in 1908.

Tart and sour like a lemon, slightly sweet like an orange, they weren't quite sweet enough to eat on their own, although I tried a few slices.  Since they are slightly sweeter than a regular lemon, I knew they wouldn't require as much added sugar, so I decided to make a light, not too sweet tart, using a mixture of part-skim ricotta to keep it light and low-fat cream cheese to keep it creamy, with a chocolate cookie crust.  I love the combination of chocolate and citrus.

So I made this Meyer Lemon Ricotta Tart last Friday, and couldn't have been happier with how it turned out.  The creamy filling was light and airy and lemony with just the right amount of sweetness, and the contrast of the crumbly, lightly salted Oreo cookie crust was a wonderful contrast to the lemon cream.  Jamie could not stop eating this tart, it was that good!

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Tart with a Chocolate Cookie Crust
printable recipe

  • 20 Oreo cookies, including filling, finely crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • grated zest of 4 Meyer Lemons
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice (from 5-6 Meyer Lemons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cook’s Note:  The ricotta adds a very subtle grainy texture to the filling, but the texture is very pleasant and the ricotta keeps the filling nice and light.  The ricotta can easily be substituted with all cream cheese, or even mascarpone cheese, for a very rich and creamy filling.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Combine the crushed Oreos with the salt, drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork to combine.  Press firmly against the bottom and up 1 ½ inches against the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom, or a pie pan.  Freeze for 10 minutes, then bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Bring a few inches of water to a simmer over medium heat.  In a metal heat-proof bowl, whisk together the Meyer lemon zest and juice, eggs and sugar, until very well blended.

Set the bowl over the saucepan.  (The bottom of the pan should not be touching the water.)  Place an instant read thermometer into the mixture, but don’t rest the thermometer against the bottom of the bowl.  Cook the mixture until it thickens and reaches 170 degrees F, whisking constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling.  When it reaches 170, after about 10 minutes, immediately remove from the heat, and pour through a mesh strainer into a bowl to strain out the zest and any bits of cooked egg.

Cover with plastic and cool for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the ricotta, cream cheese and heavy cream for 4-5 minutes until thick and smooth.  Add the Meyer Lemon mixture and the vanilla and beat until smooth and blended.  Pour Meyer lemon cream into the cooled chocolate cookie crust.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight, until set, before removing the sides of the pan and serving.

Yields 8 servings.
WW Points Plus Value:  11 points per serving

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen