This tart is incredible. (Cue me cycling through a bunch of jokes that won’t make it to the blog.) Which is kind of surprising for me to say, since I don’t actually like eating grapefruit. I think it’s a texture thing; I also don’t enjoy eating watermelon. But I love the flavor of grapefruit, especially when paired with herbs. A grapefruit-gin-prosecco cocktail? Yes please. But could I create a decadent dessert with that same flavor profile? It turns out I could. The result of my experimenting is this elegant, creamy tart packed with grapefruit flavor in a crisp rosemary crust. Add whipped cream flavored with grapefruit simple syrup, and you have a dessert dripping with sophistication and worthy of the spotlight at your next grown-up gathering.
I will admit that this is a celebration dessert. It takes some time and planning to make, but the end result is a real show-stopper.
It’s inspired by a recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours for “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart”. I made the original for Easter earlier this year, and it was divine. It calls for a simple sweet pie crust topped with this velvety lemon cream, and it was delicious. I wanted to try my own spin on it, so I switched in grapefruit for the lemon and decided to make a rosemary-infused crust, since I like those flavors together so much. The crust comes together in the food processor in a snap, and then can be frozen for thirty minutes or a couple of days, depending on how far in advance you want to start planning. Then you bake it completely and cool it down until you’re ready to fill it, either a couple of hours or the night before you want to serve the finished tart. The rosemary really comes through the finished crust, and I honestly could have just crumbled it on top of some vanilla ice cream and called it a day. But we have an elegant tart to make!
The grapefruit cream takes some elbow grease, but it is worth it. Grapefruit zest gets rubbed together with some sugar, which then gets added to eggs and grapefruit juice. Then comes the workout: you whisk constantly it over a pan of simmering water for about ten minutes, until it thickens. You really have to whisk it the whole time or else the eggs will scramble, and a scrambled egg tart is not what we’re going for today. Then you pour that in a blender, let it cool, and whip it up while adding in an insane amount of butter. After a few hours in the fridge, it sets and makes the perfect filling for our rosemary crust. If you struggle with impulse control, have someone guard the cream for you after it’s set, because you’ll want to eat it with a spoon before it gets into the pie.
I wanted to go one step further (because if we’ve come this far, why not?) and I had an extra grapefruit, so I made a grapefruit simple syrup by combining grapefruit juice and sugar and heating it until it reduced. I added that to some whipped cream, and voila! Grapefruit whipped cream to top your already classy pie. It’s elegant, it’s sophisticated, it’s meant to be oohed and ahhed over, and I promise that if you serve it at your next party, you won’t have any leftovers.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
- 9 tablespoons butter, chilled or frozen
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 2 grapefruit (if you end up using the juice of 3, you can save the extra zest for garnish)
- 4 large eggs
- ¾ cup fresh grapefruit juice (from 2-3 grapefruits)
- 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature and cut into tablespoons
- ⅓ cup grapefruit juice (from 1 grapefruit)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons grapefruit simple syrup
- In a food processor, add flour, salt and rosemary. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Cut butter into small pieces and scatter over the top of the food processor. Pulse until butter pieces are crumbled, with some as big as peas and others much smaller.
- Mix the egg yolk lightly with a fork. Through the spout on the lid, pour egg yolk in small batches, pulsing after each addition. Once it’s all in the processor, hold down the pulse button for about ten seconds a time. Once the crust comes together (you’ll know when the food processor starts making a different sound), dump it out onto the counter and combine it into one ball.
- With your fingers, gently press it into the pie pan and up the sides. Try to be gentle and not overwork the dough.
- Freeze for at least 30 minutes, or up to several days.
- When you're ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375°F. Place a piece of aluminum foil that will fit in your pie pan shiny side up, and rub it with butter. Place the buttered side down tightly against the crust.
- Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, then bake for another 8 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the crust isn’t burning. It should be a golden brown when you take it out.
- Cool the crust to room temperature before filling with the grapefruit cream.
- Get your equipment ready. You’ll need a blender, a strainer, and an instant-read thermometer.
- In a medium or large heatproof bowl (make sure it will fit over a small saucepan of simmering water), rub the grapefruit zest into the sugar until it is aromatic. Whisk in the eggs and then the grapefruit juice.
- Set the bowl over a small saucepan filled with simmering water on medium heat. Make sure you have the thermometer either on hand or placed in the bowl so you can check the temperature regularly. Whisk the mixture constantly (it’s a workout, but if you don’t, the eggs will start to scramble), and continue to check the temperature. You’re looking for it to get to 180°F. When it’s getting close, the mixture will eventually start thickening up and the whisk will leave tracks. This took me 10 minutes, and I adjusted my heat down as the temperature passed 160°F. As soon as it reaches 180°F, remove the bowl from the heat.
- Holding the strainer over your blender, strain the mixture into the blender and discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools down to 140°F. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Turn the blender to high. While it is running, add the butter 5 pieces at a time, scraping down the sides of the blender as you need to. Once all of the butter is in, keep the machine going for another 3 minutes.
- Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface so that it is airtight, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
- Combine grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and simmer for three minutes, stirring often to avoid anything sticking to the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pour heavy cream into bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high speed until it forms medium peaks. Add in the grapefruit simple syrup (I had 4 tablespoons), and whisk until it forms stiff peaks.
- Spoon grapefruit cream into crust and smooth with a spatula. With a piping bag fitted with a star attachment, place stars of whipped cream all over the pie, working from the outside in. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.