When I mentioned on Monday that I had a second orange treat to share this week, I hadn't planned to wait until Friday to get this post up, but that's what wound up happening. These mini orange creamsicle tarts were worth the wait though, I promise! If you loved orange creamsicles as a kid, think of these tarts as the grown-up version of that dessert. The tarts are fun, they're nostaligic and most importantly, they're insanely delicious. As you glance down the ingredient list you'll see that the filling contains both freshly squeezed orange juice and orange cream soda. Don't fear the orange cream soda - I didn't like it as a kid and I took a swig before making this recipe to confirm I still don't like it, but I'm certain that the unique combination of the soda and the fresh orange juice is one of the big reasons the filling really does taste just like eating a creamsicle. There's enough fresh orange and lemon zest and juice to give the filling great citrus flavor and keep it from becoming overly sweet despite the presence of the soda. It's basically a really rich and luscious orange curd; I've never had to work so hard (even with my favorite lemon curd) to restrain myself from sneaking one spoonful after another from the fridge :)
I prefer minis over full-size tarts, but you could make this recipe in a 9-inch tart pan if you wanted. The filling sets up perfectly so it's easy to cut beautiful slices of the tart. This recipe is simple, but there are multiple components and quite a few of them require rest/refrigeration periods so you'll want to read through the entire recipe and plan accordingly before you get started. Also, a note of warning - this is one of those dirties every bowl in your kitchen recipes. I recommend grabbing someone to help with the dishes, then sharing a tart afterward!
Mini Orange Creamsicle Tarts
adapted just slightly from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis & Renato Poliafito
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 large oranges)
1 cup orange cream soda
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
Orange Tart Dough
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Orange Whipped Cream
1 cup very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange cream soda
To make the filling: Put the butter in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. Add the lemon juice to a wide bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the juice and set aside.
Combine the orange juice and orange cream soda in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half so you have 1 cup of liquid left.
Whisk the lemon zest, orange zest, eggs and yolks, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add to the saucepan with the orange juice/soda mixture and cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (it will reach about 180 F on a thermometer). Take the pan off of the heat and add the gelatin mixture, whisking to combine. Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl containing the butter, and strain the curd into that bowl. Whisk vigorously to melt and incorporate the butter, and increase the volume of the mixture slightly. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To make the tart dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, rub the orange zest and sugar together with your fingertips until moist and fragrant. Add the butter and salt to the mixer and beat on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add the flour and mix just until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 4 or 5 equal pieces, and one at a time, roll them into circles just slightly larger than the size of your tart pans. I was using 4.5-inch pans so I rolled mine to about 5.5 inches. Gently ease the dough into the tart pans, taking care not to stretch or pull it. Press into the edges and up the sides then trim off the excess. Repeat for each tart pan. Place the tarts in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Line each of the tart pans with a small piece of aluminum foil and fill about 3/4-full with pie weights or rice. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, or until the edges look dry, then remove the pie weights and foil and bake for another 4 minutes, or until the bottom of the shell looks dry. Remove the tart pans to a wire rack to cool.
To assemble the tart: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the filling on high for about 5 minutes. Fill the tart shells with the curd then transfer them to the refrigerator for about an hour to set.
To make the orange whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream briefly, until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the sugar and orange cream soda into the bowl and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Lift the tarts out of the pan by pressing up on the bottom. Top the mini tarts with the the whipped cream and serve.