In Good Taste: Sweet on Citrus
Whip up inspired winter treats using the season’s best and brightest fruits
Winter fruits deserve their day in the sun. Summer’s best- sellers (strawberries, peaches, and blue-berries, for example) often upstage them—perhaps it’s those iconic roadside stands that get us. But November through February deliver loads of vibrant citrus, from cool key limes to our staple Meyer lemons, from gorgeous grapefruits to brilliant oranges and clementines. As if that’s not sweet enough, here are four delicious dessert recipes starring the cool-weather fruits, sure to brighten even your grayest winter day.
Four Fruity Confections
Key Lime Poppy Seed Cake
Meyer Lemon Tart
Orange Buttermilk Sugar Cookies
Grapefruit Pistachio Layer Cake
How to spot prime fruit at the market:
- All fruits are not created equal. For example, the heavier in the hand, the juicier the fruit. Also, look for fruit with unblemished peels—damaged fruit decays at a faster rate. The freshest fruit will have a faint, sweet fragrance to it. So align your nose with the central column of the fruit and give it a sniff to find the best picks.
- Grapefruits should have smooth, thin skin that’s spongy to the touch.
- Lemons and limes should have glossy, bright peels. Key limes should be pale green to yellow-green in color. Look for lemons with peels thick enough to zest.
- Oranges should be thick-peeled and free of defects. Navel oranges should have small navels (a larger navel is a sign of over-ripeness).
- Tangerines should be a deep, glossy orange and have loose skin.
- Clementines should be more wrinkled than other orange varieties. The peel should give a little when pressed.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. freshly squeezed key lime juice (from approx. 3 key limes), divided
1 Tbs. milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. poppy seeds
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
Zest of 1 key lime
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a glass loaf pan and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With machine on low, beat in the vanilla, two tablespoons of the lime juice, and milk.
In a small bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Lightly stir in the poppy seeds with a fork. With machine on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until just combined. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 30 minutes.
Transfer loaf to serving platter. Whisk the confectioner’s sugar with remaining tablespoon key lime juice until smooth. With a fork, prick holes along the top of loaf and drizzle glaze over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle lime zest on top.
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 Tbs. cold water
For the filling:
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (from 3-4 lemons)
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Freshly whipped cream, for topping
To make the crust, pulse the flour and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 20 times, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the water, continuing to pulse just until dough comes together. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for one hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a nine-inch tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Remove dough from refrigerator. Place between two pieces of lightly floured wax paper and roll out to an 11-inch round. Remove top sheet of wax paper and invert crust into prepared tart pan, gently pressing dough into bottom and sides of pan. (If any small tears appear, simply pinch together to seal crust.) Trim excess dough from edges of pan and freeze for 15 minutes to firm before baking. Pierce bottom of crust all over with a fork. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned, and remove from oven.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. To make the filling, sift the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs together until sugar is dissolved. Pour over dry ingredients and whisk until completely smooth. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake until just set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, slice, and top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. buttermilk
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 375°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and one cup sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about two to three minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk with the orange juice. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the buttermilk and flour mixtures to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until just combined. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Mix the remaining one-quarter cup of sugar and the zest on a small plate. Working one by one, form dough into tablespoon-size balls and roll in sugar mixture, coating well on all sides. Transfer balls to greased baking sheets, placing them one and one-half inches apart. Bake for eight to 10 minutes until cookies are set and edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. finely grated grapefruit zest
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
For the frosting:
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 large grapefruits, peeled and segmented
1 cup roasted pistachios, lightly crushed
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two nine-inch cake pans and line with a parchment round; grease and lightly flour top of parchment.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three to four minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and zest. In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. With the machine running on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat just until blended.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking, until tester inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen cake from sides of pan with a knife. Invert onto wire racks and remove parchment. Cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the grapefruit juice and gradually blend in the sugar, making sure it’s thoroughly incorporated after each addition.
To assemble the cake, invert the first layer onto cake platter. Spread with one-third of the frosting. Spread the grapefruit segments in a single layer, reserving some for garnish. Sprinkle with the crushed pistachios, pressing lightly to adhere. Spread an even thin coat of frosting over top of second layer and invert onto fruit/nut layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Garnish top with remaining grapefruit segments.
Food Styling by Cynthia Groseclose