Life has been full of sweet surprises lately. Incredibly full of sweet surprises. I’m not sure if its my attitude or the circumstances themselves, but I’ve been pretty much skipping and jumping from one happy cloud to the next, all summer long. The last few months have been a blur of only the good, while the promise of even better things to come seems to linger around each and every corner. There have been concerts, and dates, and beach trips, and reunions. I’ve watched fireworks, stargazed in a field, and even got to spend some lovely, lazy days back home at my parents’ house. My refrigerator is stocked full of summer staples: cold Coronas, fresh berries, and local vegetables. I’m one happy girl, to say the least.
Let’s be honest though, its easy to be positive when things are going our way, right? But even when I fried the mother board on my computer, crashed my bike, locked my keys in my car, and shattered the glass in my front door (all in the same week!!) I couldn’t be brought down. (Afterall, that’s what warranties, bike shops, AAA, and landlords are for!)
I try and savor these times as best I can. I try to ingrain it deep in my mind, what it feels like to view the world through rose colored glasses because I know the day will come when I need a reminder. And maybe, just maybe, if I’ve hammered these moments deep enough into my
head heart, it’ll be a whole lot easier to fill my future half empty cup back up to the brim again.
I like this plan. Happy life 101: It’s all about the attitude.
The best part of this dreamy state I’ve been living in is that I don’t seem to be the only one. After a very challenging year and a half living in central Pennsylvania, my dear friend Pam, recently relocated to Boston, her east coast dream city (a part of her heart will always be in San Francisco) to start her dream job. I could not be happier for my friend, and the joy that is radiating from her inspires me to soak up my own sweet moments even more.
In many cases, the surprises that have been making these days feel special aren’t so monumental, but that doesn’t make them any less sweet. It can be something as simple as receiving an invite from friends to an impromptu pool party on the absolute hottest day of the summer. And let’s just be clear. On a scorching hot and humid Philadelphia day, if someone invites you to their pool, you say yes. No questions asked. Especially when they are as fun and awesome as these guys!
I didn’t want to show up to the pool party empty handed, so I brought along a sweet surprise of my own: this lemon blueberry tart! I’ve been dreaming of this flavor combination for months, but wanted to wait until the local berries were in season to make it. The chilled filling is smooth and light, making it perfect for a summer afternoon. I personally can’t get enough of those sweet berries paired with the tart lemon custard, and the shortbread crust gives it just enough crunch to balance everything out. I didn’t have any on hand, but this would be perfect topped with a big dollop of fresh whipped cream.
We enjoyed the tart when everyone hopped out of the pool for a quick break from swimming, and my friends all gave it a big thumbs up. I promise that lemon blueberry tart will be a big hit at your next pool party, picnic, or BBQ as well!
- 1 1/2 c flour
- 1/3 c sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 Tbs butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 Tbs cold water
- 4 lemons
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1.85 oz packet instant vanilla pudding (the small one)
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 Tbs – 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- Whipped cream for serving
- 9 inch tart pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then start on your crust.
(you could, in theory, use a store bought crust here, but I absolutely swear by this homemade shortbread and think it really seals the deal on this tart)
I always use a food processor to make my crusts, but if you don’t have one, do it the old fashioned way in a bowl with a pastry cutter. Start by combining the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Cut the cold butter into little quarter inch pieces and add to the food processor. Continue pulsing until the butter is completely cut into the flour in about pea sized pieces. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk, vanilla, and 1 Tbs of cold water. Add the liquids to the food processor and continue pulsing until a dough forms. Add up to 1 more Tbs of water if needed. Transfer the dough to a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper and roll it out into a large round. Use the paper to transfer it into the tart plan. Press the dough into bottoms and sides with your fingers. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
While the crust is cooling, start on the lemon filling. Zest the 4 lemons directly into the bowl of a food processor, then set the lemons aside for juicing later. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar to the food processor and pulse until the two are very well combined, and the sugar becomes fragrant like citrus.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and the lemon/sugar mixture until light and fluffy. On medium speed, mix in the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until well combined. Juice the four lemons (you’ll want a 1/2 cup of juice) and add the liquid along with the salt to the mixer, and continue to beat for another minute or so, scraping down the sides of the bowl. It might look weird and curdled at this point, so don’t freak out, that’s normal.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened. Be sure to stir the mixture continuously while it cooks. This process should take about 10-15 minutes. Once the lemon curd is nice and thick, removed it from the heat and mix in the instant pudding packet. Whisk the filling for exactly one minute, then transfer it to the prepared tart crust. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or until the filling has cooled and set up completely.
To make the blueberry topping, start by tasting your blueberries to decide how much sugar you’ll need. I like my blueberry topping to be on the sweeter side to balance out the tartness of the lemon filling. When the berries aren’t particularly sweet, I use 1/4 cup of sugar. When the berries are sweet on their own, I dial it back to 2 tablespoons. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine 3 cups blueberries, the desired amount of sugar, and 1/4 cup of water. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 Tbs of water and 1 Tbs of corn starch. When the berries are boiling, mix in the corn starch mixture and continue boiling for another couple of minutes or until the blueberry topping has thickened.
Allow the blueberry topping to cool to room temperature, then pour it over the lemon filling. Chill the tart in the refrigerator for at least one more hour, although I typically chill mine over night. Pop the tart out of the pan just before serving and cut into generous slices.
The Crust – Jess’ Fruit Tart (The Spatularettes)
The Filling – Lemon Curd (The Spatularettes, but originally from Ina Garten)
The Topping – Lightened Up Blueberry Cheesecake (Gimme Some Oven)
The epitome of summer eating.