I recently survived a birthday by eating a ridiculous amount of food at my favourite vegan haunt, ZenKitchen. I started the meal with sesame-crusted, flash-fried mushrooms, followed by a butternut squash risotto with roasted seasonal veggies. The pièce de résistance was dessert – a heavenly lemon curd tart, dotted with a raspberry coulis. It was out of this world. So much so that I’ve been obsessing about my dream tart for weeks. I finally decided to do some Googling and some tweaking, and came up with the following recipe. Hope you like it!
I wish I had some fresh berries to sprinkle on top, but this is what happens when you get the idea to whip up a pie on a Sunday night when you haven't gone grocery shopping in a couple of days!
- 1 + 1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (6 lemons and 2 small oranges – feel free to play with the ratio or maybe even add more exotic citrus like limes, meyer lemons, grapefruit or blood oranges. Just be aware that they each have pretty unique flavour profiles.)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 + 3/4 cup organic cane sugar (the more lemons you use, the more sugar you need to compensate… just keep that in mind)
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- zest of the above lemons and oranges
- 2 tbsp Earth Balance butter
- 6 tbsp almond or soy milk, cooked for about 1.5 minutes in the microwave (or otherwise simmered) with 5 cardamom pods (make sure you strain the pods out before using the milk!)
- 2 cups ginger or graham cookie crumbs (about 20 or so crackers)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup Earth Balance butter, depending on how oily your cookies are
Wash your citrus, then zest it (it’s a lot easier to get the zest off before you cut and juice a lemon, trust me). Make sure you only pass over one area once, because you don’t want to get the bitter white pith that lies under the yummy zest/skin.
These are the best tools for citrus-work: an orange/lemon juicer, a mini-sieve, a zester and a sink. Employed together, they’ll extract every drop of juice (juicer), every bit of yummy zest (zester), will let you get rid of any pesky pips that sneak into your juice (mini-sieve) and will prevent the juice from finding its way into every crack and crevice in your kitchen (sink).
A citrus user's best friends: hand juicer (for both lemons, limes and oranges), a mini-sieve, and a zester.
Whisk together the lemon juice, water, sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while. Once boiling, let it sit for a minute without stirring, then add the remaining ingredients (up to but not including the cookie crumbs!) and resume stirring. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then set into an ice bath (or pour into a bowl and stick in the fridge if you’re not in a hurry).
While you’re letting the curd cool, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make the crust by pulsing the cookies and butter together in a food processor. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan (metal measuring cups are terrific for getting an even surface on the bottom as well on the sides). Toss the shell into the freezer for about 15 minutes to set, then bake for about 12 minutes or until the sides are lightly browned and the bottom isn’t quite set (it’ll set as it cools).
Pour the curd into the shell and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving (even better overnight). If you want to get fancy, serve with a drizzle of cardamom-infused strawberry or raspberry coulis: boil 1-2 cups berries in a small saucepan with just enough water to break them down and make a sauce, then add about 1 tbsp of your favourite sugar product (sugar cane, agave, honey, etc.), a couple of cardamom pods and a tsp of vanilla; boil until soft, then remove the pods and blend until smooth. You’ll be the toast of the town (or dinner), I guarantee it.