April in Knoxville has been unseasonably warm, even while we're stuck counting the days until the start of the Market Square Farmers' Market and the weeks until spring's edible abundance ramps up. In the meantime, celebrate in the kitchen the same seasonal blooming we've been enjoying outdoors with this elegant cream tart. Bright, soothing, and floral, the first tastes of lemon and chamomile (if "breezy" were a flavor, it would certainly be lemon-chamomile) are grounded by a touch of grassy matcha(*). For the base, a cookie crust made with Mi-Del brand lemon snaps is as easy to make as it is tasty.
The filling is gorgeously creamy and substantial without sitting on your stomach like a brick, so you'll still feel up for frolicking in the sun after dessert. For a mousse-like variation, note that the filling makes a perfectly satisfying dessert all on its own. We've enjoyed it both with and without the crust: the additional lemon and sugar in the crust bring the lemon flavor forward and mellow the tea further, while serving the filling solo in small cups highlights the chamomile and matcha.
(*We were thrilled to find both matcha powder and dried chamomile flowers at Tea at the Gallery.)
Lemon-Chamomile-Matcha Cream Tart with a Lemon Snap Crust
yields 1 9-inch tart
20 Mi-Del brand lemon snaps (125 g)
zest of 1 lemon (scant 1 TBSP)
1/4 cup melted unrefined coconut oil
2 cups full-fat coconut milk (We use and recommend Thai Kitchen brand, which is thickened. If you use a thinner milk, you may need to experiment with additional cashews or agar.)
2 generous TBSP dried chamomile (by "generous," we mean here that when you scoop out the chamomile flowers, err on the side of going over the rim rather than under)
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
2 tsp matcha powder
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
2 tsp agar agar powder (available at Three Rivers co-op in the bulk spice section)
Line the sides of a 9-inch round springform pan with wax paper, using a piece of tape to secure the end.
In a food processor, process the cookies to crumbs. Add the lemon zest, process to incorporate, and stir in the melted coconut oil. Press into the bottom of the prepared springform pan and transfer to the refrigerator.
Heat the coconut milk over medium heat and measure the chamomile into a bowl large enough to hold the milk. As soon as you see steam begin to lick the sides of the sauce pan, remove from heat, and pour the milk over the chamomile. Set aside and let steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a coffee grinder, process the cashews to a fine powder. (You may use a food processor for this, but your filling may not be as smooth.) Transfer the cashew powder to a food processor, add the matcha, and pulse to incorporate.
In a small sauce pan, combine the lemon juice, sugar, salt, and agar powder. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until for at least 10 minutes, or until the chamomile has finished steeping.
When the chamomile has steeped for 30 minutes, strain out the flowers and add the infused coconut milk to the cashew-matcha mix in the food processor. Process until well combined, add the agar syrup and process again until well combined. The mixture will be quite thin. Give it a stir with a plastic spatula to release any large air bubbles that formed during processing.
Pour the cream over crust and return to the refrigerator. Let set overnight. When ready to serve, very gently and slowly remove the wax paper.
If making the mousse variation, transfer to any container (the deeper it is, the longer it may take to set) and let set overnight, or as needed to firm up all the way through. The mousse may be served chilled or at room temperature, as once the cream sets, room temperature will not affect consistency. The tart version, however, is best served chilled, since the crust uses coconut oil as a binder, which softens considerably at room temperature.