Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lime Tart That Loves You Back


It's been awhile. I was feeling so discouraged about blogging. I went through a I hate gluten-free, life-hates-me kind of slump. I was in SUCH a slump I actually missed meeting Gluten-Free Girl while she was down here in LA (doh!), so I wasn't able to get my book signed. That is how grey I was feeling about life without good pasta, sugar-glazed maple doughnuts, crackers and cheese.

You know, I have never really been much of a lover of bakery confections. Cupcakes and cinnamon buns and yes, even Krispy Kreme, have never tempted me past endurance. (Now give me a bowl of rocky road or some Medjool dates, and that's another story!). But oh! Internet. I. MISS. PASTA. SO. MUCH. :::grooooooaaaaan::: I can still taste perfectly al dente, extra thick De Cecco brand pasta with homemade, fresh tomato sauce in my mouth, and it makes me tear up, because I miss it SO much. And rice pasta? I don't care how many people sing the praises of Tinkyada and whatever else. It is NOT the same, and no, it is not even that good as a substitute. For the love of good spaghetti, I think we should just stop pretending. Lets call a spade a spade - gluten-free pasta just will never be an adequate replacement for the good stuff.

I know it seems like this doesn't have anything to do with lime bars. When are we getting to the lime bars?? Soon, I promise.

Lucky for me, I now have about 20 different kinds of flour to work with, and ye gods! It's fun! All of them have their own taste, aroma, and texture. Anything else I want to eat, besides pasta that is, can be created in mad scientist fashion by mixing this and that together until it feels and tastes right. In a way, I have actually found gluten-free baking very freeing: Instead of feeling like I have to stick religiously to a recipe, I can play around and do my own thing until I find something I like. Wheat flour baking has been perfected by more than enough posh French people, to the point where it seems like every possible combination of ingredients has a very long name and an even longer history. But gluten-free baking is virgin, uncharted territory, where anything is possible, and internet, I am eating it up.

A few days ago the Philosopher and I had a friend over for carne asada (::groan:: sooo good), and I thought some lime bars would be great with it. The problem is, my lime bar recipe calls for a graham cracker crust. I tried looking around the internet for some kind of substitute but came up dry, and finally I just said screw it! Let's experiment! This recipe is the result of that experiment, and folks? If I say so myself, it is really good. Graham cracker crust is good, but this crust has so much more dimension. It tastes a bit more like a dense, carmelly shortbread than that thin graham cracker crust. If you are not on a restricted diet and you can eat gluten, make this recipe anyway - it is so much better than processed graham crackers, I promise!

This recipe yields enough dough to fill a 10" tart pan with removable bottom. If you want, you can halve the recipe and put it in a 6" x 6" square cake pan.

for the crust

1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup almond flour
t tbs xanthum gum
1/4 cup packed, light brown cane sugar
1/4 cup blonde cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (one stick) melted butter
zest from 2-3 limes

for the filling

4 large egg yolks
2 cans (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh kime Juice (6-9 lemons)
zest from 1-2 limes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flours, sugars, and xanthum gum. Add butter, mixing by hand until butter is incorporated, and mixture forms loose clumps.

2. Press mixture into tart shell, pressing firmly so that mixture is tightly packed on the bottom and up the sides.

3. Bake 15 - 20, or until crust is golden. Remove from oven for filling.

4. While crust is baking, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. Add lemon and zest, stirring gently until incorporated.

5. Pour filling into crust. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Chill at least one hour. enjoy!