Monday, June 13, 2016

Yogurt Lemon Balm Torte

Every spring I look forward to growing a selection of interesting herbs. Last year, for the first time I planted lemon balm, I don't know how I lived this long without it. It's such a wonderful addition to any herb garden. 

Lemon balm contains multiple properties including a calming effect and a natural anti-viral. It is also a delicious fresh herb addition to everything from salads to scones. It also grows abundantly and returns every year. 

This beautiful torte is not a recipe you can whip together before guests come because the various stages of the recipe take quite a bit of time to create. The majority of that time is refrigerating the layers in various stages. 

You will need pie weights for the crust as you have to blind bake the bottom layer. If you don't have pie weights, any large dried beans will work just as well.

For the tea ingredient, you can use any lemon tea or make your own lemon balm tea. If you are squeamish about the amount of gelatin in this recipe, you can substitute agar agar instead. You will need one tablespoon of agar agar for every teaspoon of gelatin.

Yogurt Lemon Balm Torte
Prep Time: 1 hour
Chill Time: 6 gours 
Cook Time: 30 minutes 
Yield: 12 pieces 

For the bottom layer:

  • 1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
For the filling:
  • 2 bags of lemon flavored tea
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups plain full-fat greek yogurt 
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • Zest from 1 small lemon
  • 1/3 cup powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 cup fresh whole lemon balm leaves

Make the crust layer:
  • In a large bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, white granulated sugar and salt. 
  • Add the softened butter and egg. Knead together to a smooth dough.
  • Add the lemon zest and knead to combine it thoroughly into the dough.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic cling film and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • Grease and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Use the pan to trace out two circles on parchment paper. Cut out the circles. Line the bottom with one of the parchment paper circles and grease the paper as well. 
  • Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll it out into a circle. 
  • Transfer the dough to the pan and use your fingers to even it out. Place the second parchment paper circle on top of the dough and evenly distribute the pie weights or dried beans over the top. 
  • Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then gently remove the sides and the bottom of the pan from the torte base. Transfer the torte base to a wire rack and let cool. 
Make the torte layer:
  • Remove 1 teaspoon of the powdered gelatin from the 1/3 cup and set aside. 
  • Dissolve the remaining gelatin powder completely in warm water. The mixture should resemble a thick liquid. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the greek yogurt, the cup of white granulated sugar, lemon extract and lemon zest. Whisk in the dissolved gelatin into the yogurt mixture a teaspoon at a time. 
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  • Beat the heavy cream and tablespoon of powdered sugar until stiff. Remove the yogurt mixture from the refrigerator and fold the whipped cream into the yogurt mixture until thoroughly combined. 
  • Transfer the torte base to a serving plate and place the springform pan ring back around it. Layer the yogurt cream mixture over the torte base. Smooth out the top and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours. 
Make the topping layer:
  • Heat the cup of water to boiling, place the 2 lemon tea bags in and let steep for a few minutes. 
  • Soften the remaining teaspoon of powdered gelatin in a small amount of warm water. Stir the softened gelatin into the hot lemon tea. When it dissolves completely, place the mixture in the refrigerator, about 30 minutes until it thickens and becomes spreadable. 
  • Wash and pat dry the lemon balm leaves. Spread half of the lemon tea gelatin over the top of the torte. Place the lemon balm leaves on top of the lemon gelatin layer in a decorative pattern. 
  • Place the torte back in the refrigerator until the gelatin hardens. 
  • Slightly warm up the rest of the lemon tea gelatin and spread it over the first gelatin layer containing lemon balm leaves. Place the torte back in the refrigerator until the tops layer hardens. 
  • Leave the torte in the refrigerator until ready serve. Carefully remove the ring from the outside of the torte, slice and serve.

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