Lemon Mint Custard Tart
The combination of mint and lemon in this dessert creates an especially refreshing flavor. Mint adds a nice zip to so many recipes. I love being able to step outside my kitchen door and snip off a few stems to use in my cooking.
Mint is easy to grow, in fact, a little too easy - it does have a reputation for becoming a garden thug. But it can be contained by planting it in a deep bottomless nursery pot buried in the ground. In theory it does best in moist, humus rich soils that are well-drained and in an area that gets protection from afternoon sun. But I have had varieties that have failed under these conditions and thrived in others. So don't be afraid to experiment!
There are so many wonderful flavors of mint available. I used spearmint for this recipe, but peppermint, pineapple, orange or even basil mint would be tasty as well.
I like to make this dessert with tart pans rather than a pie pan because the custard is not quite solid enough for a slice of pie. Tart pans are easy to find wherever cooking utensils are sold. Purchase the non-stick type to make the job easy.
To prepare the crust combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and blend until you have a crumbly mixture.
Split the crust mixture between (6) 4" non-stick tart pans. Press the crust onto the bottom and sides of the pans. Bake in a 350 degree F preheated over for about 6 minutes. Remove the tart pans from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the crusts are cooling begin preparing the filling. In a heavy saucepan bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a simmer over a medium high heat. Add the mint sprigs to the cream, cover and remove from the stovetop. Allow the mint to steep for about 30 minutes. Remove the mint and strain the cream.
While the mint steeps begin making the lemon custard. In a heavy saucepan combine egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens. This should take about 5 minutes. To be on the safe side you may want to use an instant-read thermometer. It should read about 160 degrees F.
Pour the custard into a glass or glazed mixing bowl and whisk in the mint cream. Put this in the refrigerator and chill for about 1 hour.
In the mean time, whip the remaining 1/2 cup of cream until soft peaks form. You can do this with a hand beater or an electric mixer, just be sure that the cream is well whipped. Otherwise the lemon mint filling will be too runny.
Now combine whipped cream with the chilled lemon mint custard until well incorporated.
Take your tart pans, turn them upside down on a plate and gently tap the bottom. Lift the pan and, if you use non-stick type, the graham cracker crust should pop right out.
Turn the crust right side up, fill with lemon mint custard and garnish with a sprig of mint, a little lemon zest and a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Time to prepare: 1 hour, 30 minutes.