Blackcurrant Tartlets and Lemon Cream

The time to eat native Irish blackcurrants is right now,  August, as they have a relatively short season. They are irresistible in this recipe -  scattered over a dollop of  a soft decadent lemon filling in a delicate tartlet case. The sharp currants are little electric pops of flavour that are smoothed out by the buttery lemon - texture and crunch provided by the casing.




















The tartlet case is basically a slightly sweet mini pie crust. You can get specialist moulds, but a cupcake or muffin tray will work just as well. Start by sifting 250g of plain flour and 50g of icing sugar together into a large mixing bowl. Take 125g of unsalted butter from the fridge and cut into cubes. Rub the cubes of butter into the flour until the mixture turns into little breadcrumbs. Crack a beaten egg and a small splash of milk into a cup and whisk together. Pour over the floury butter crumbs and use a spatula, wooden spoon or your fingers to work the egg into the flour mixture until it comes together into a crumbly ball of dough. Be careful not to over work the dough too much. It should be a little dry, so if its still sticky add a tiny bit more flour at a time until it sticks no more. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and put in the fridge for an hour to chill.

This is, I guess, a low fat lemon cream - similar to a panna cotta. Made simply with milk, lemon and egg yolks to give it richness, instead of fatty butter or cream. Grate the zest of 2 lemons into a saucepan with 125ml of milk. Heat the milk in the saucepan with the zest until it almost comes to the boil. Take off the heat. In a large bowl beat together 4 egg yolks and 100g of caster sugar. Add the juice of 2 lemons, then pour the hot milk in slowly and stir. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl) and keep stirring. As you stir over the gentle heat it will start to become thicker. Add 1 sheet of leaf gelatin (or a tablespoon of powdered gelatine), and stir into bowl along with the lemony hot milk until the gelatine is dissolved. The gentle heat will also slowly cook the egg yolks. It will take about 10 mins in total. Taste to make sure that the yolks are cooked through. Take the bowl from the heat and allow to cool. Cover with clingfilm and pop in the fridge for an hour to set.

Unwrap your chilled pastry and roll it out on a lightly floured surface until thin (not much thicker than a bank card). Use it to line the pastry moulds, gently pressing the pastry into the corners and edges. Trim off the excess pastry with a knife, make little holes with a fork into the pastry bottoms and place the moulds in the fridge for 15 mins. Preheat your oven to 180C  and cover the dough with parchment paper or tinfoil into which you put dry rice or baking beads to weigh it down. Cook your tart shells for 15 to 20 mins. Remove the paper and continue to cook for a final 2 or 3 mins until golden. Remove the tartlet shells from the oven and let them cool down. Fill the tartlet shells with lemon cream and fresh blackcurrants. Sprinkle with icing  sugar and serve.

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