Oh my. Now here’s a tart to write
home the internet about. I’ve had grapefruit curd on the brain ever since I saw Deb swap out lemon for grapefruit in one of Ina Garten’s cakes, and then mention grapefruit curd in the comments. And now I can tell you, it really is as heavenly as it sounds. Sweet but tart, smooth and luxe, it’s just plain gorgeous as it slides across your tongue.
My mother invited Henning and me over for dinner tonight, the perfect excuse for a nice dessert. I wanted to make a tart of some sort, with the curd as a base and grapefruit segments decorating the top. A bit of interneting and yielded a lemon curd recipe that seemed like it would stand up to a grapefruit swap-out. A bit more interneting gave a brown sugar crust recipe that seemed like the perfect complement to the tart grapefruit. And oh what a marriage it was–sweet, crumbly, caramely brown sugar crust supporting a ooey gooey luscious layer of tart grapefruit curd, and all that with bright, refreshing grapefruit segments on top.
I must warn you, though, that getting the curd to thicken took for-ev-er. Most of the recipes that I found had strict instructions for double boiler usage, but this one didn’t. Fearful soul that I am, I was afraid of curdling the eggs–for curdled eggs do not a good curd make–so I started out using a double boiler to heat the curd. Forty minutes of constant stirring later, with the curd looking no thicker than half and half, I realized that I’d boiled away all of the water which was supposed to to be cooking my curd. Frustrated, I swapped the bowl for a heavy saucepan directly over the heat. Five minutes later I declared the curd done, though it probably could have withstood a bit more cooking, as it did ooze a bit more than I’d have liked when the tart was sliced. It still tasted fabulous, though I think next time I’ll just do as the recipe dictates, and carefully cook the curd on the stove.
Grapefruit Curd Tart with Brown Sugar Crust
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh grapefruit zest*
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice*
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
*You will need about three or four grapefruits for this. Follow the instructions below to minimize waste.
Zest three grapefruits into a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan (zesting them over the vessel that the curd will be cooked in means that all of the oils released with each scrape of the zester make it into the final curd). If this does not yield enough zest, zest another grapefruit. Cut the stem and blossom ends off of a grapefruit and set it flat on a cutting board. Following the shape of the grapefruit, cut vertical strips of skin and pith off of the grapefruit, until the grapefruit is peeled and free of any white pith. Holding the peeled grapefruit over a bowl to catch the juices, carefully cut around the membranes to remove the segments of grapefruit. Drop them in the bowl as you go. Once all the segments have been removed, squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl. Repeat with remaining grapefruits.
Carefully pour the juice from the bowl into a measuring cup, leaving the segments in the bowl. You should have about one cup. If you don’t have enough juice, segment and juice one more grapefruit. Use the juice to make the curd and save the segments to decorate the top of the tart.
Have ready a fine mesh sieve and a bowl large enough to hold the cooked curd. In the same saucepan that you zested the grapefruit into, whisk together zest, grapefruit juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk, about 10 minutes. Do not let the curd reach temperatures in excess of 180 degrees. The goal of the whisking is not to incorporate air into the curd, but to keep it moving and make sure that none of the curd stays on the bottom of the pan for an extended time. When the curd is thick, immediately pour curd through the sieve into a bowl, then chill, covered, while you make and cool the tart shell. Stop by the fridge and stir the curd every few minutes or so, to be sure that it cools evenly.
This recipe makes about 3 cups, which is more than you’ll need for the tart, but the curd is fabulous spread on toast, or you can just eat it with a spoon, if you’re not too worried about your waistline ;)
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, and salt until combined well. Add butter and blend until a dough begins to form (mixture should hold together when squeezed between fingers). Press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9 inch round tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Bake crust in middle of oven 15 minutes and cool in pan on a rack. Crust may be made 2 days ahead and kept in pan, covered, at room temperature.
When the crust has cooled, spread enough of the chilled curd to generously coat the bottom. Arrange grapefruit slices decoratively on top of chilled curd and refridgerate until set, about two hours.