Happy Endings

If you think your last look at elegant desserts featuring exciting ingredients came and went on New Year's Eve, you've got another think coming! The cold months that the beginning of the year hold also bring opportunities to take advantage of citrus -- which is often at the peak of its season when we're all fighting colds and wearing sweaters.

This month, I'm sharing a decadent recipe that features oranges ... in the crust, in the filling and on top for decoration and extra tang. It's a relatively simple dessert that does take a bit of time, but that seems like one thing we've actually got a bit of after the holiday rush. The creamy custard filling is a favorite at my home and has even been doubled and served on it's own with some extra crisp cookies for a less formal dessert. But before you opt for that rendition, try this one. You'll find that festive spirit isn't quite gone after all!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Orange Custard Tartlets

For the Crusts:
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 7 T. butter -- softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Filling:
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. fresh orange juice
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 T. grated orange zest
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 T. sugar
  • 2 T. Grand Marnier
  • 4 oranges -- peeled, white pith removed

To make the crusts, combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter, egg yolk and vanilla extract. Using an electric mixer, blend the mixture until coarse crumbs form. Knead the dough into a ball. (The dough will be very soft.) Pat it into the bottom and up the sides of four 4-inch-diameter tartlet pans with removable bottoms. Press the dough into place; then trim the excess dough. Freeze for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the crusts with foil and fill them with dried beans or pie weights. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and beans. Bake the crusts for 10 minutes longer. Cool.

To make the filling, mix everything but the oranges in a medium bowl. Pour the filling into the cooled crusts. Bake until the custard is barely set, about 30 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes and then refrigerate until the custard is firm, about 3 hours. Cut between the membranes of the oranges with a sharp knife to release the segments. Drain them well on paper towels and arrange the orange segments on top of each tart before serving.

  • Yields: 4-8 servings, depending on your appetites
  • Preparation Time: about 5 hours