Monday, August 29, 2011

The South is Calling Again: Sweet Tea Icebox Tart

I may have become a Southerner....for the most part. Except for my disdain of humidity--any and all humidity. But that may be the thorn to the rose that is The South. When people hear me speak back in IL, they say I 'talk' like a Southerner. When they hear me speak in TN, they ask where I'm from. So a transplanted Southerner. My first boss down in Chattanooga told me he really liked me so he would call me his 'Yankee' instead of his 'damn Yankee.' Why, thank you. I guess. And living here in Memphis is a little bit of the South and a little bit of the North. No Steel Magnolias set-up here, but there is still a great deal of Southern history here. And they still love their sweet tea.

However, since I left the Midwest for the South (14 years ago), I have fallen in love with kudzu and Spanish moss, wrap-around porches, old Coca-Cola signs on barns, windy/hilly country roads, being greeted like a friend in small town shops, cotton fields, fried green tomatoes, the sound of cicadas at night, pick-up trucks, boiled peanuts off the side of the road, their comfort with shotguns, the way a Southern woman takes pride in her hair and make-up (my new blogging friend, Stephanie, claims the higher the hair, the closer to God), the miles of imperfect coastline, their love of SEC football, jukeboxes in diners, cheese grits, and bluegrass music.
Saw this in a local shop and realized I couldn't have said it better (click on it to enlarge if you can't read it):

And as you can see, tea is mentioned first. Sweet tea is a staple down here. And though I like it, I just can't drink it by the gallon like some we know (you know who you are!). I'm so humored to see the delight my brother has whenever he visits us and exclaims, 'yes! we can get sweet tea again!' So far, the best sweet tea I've had is from Ice-Cream & Coffee Beans in Spartanburg, SC (live here long enough and you'll find most good things come out of TN & SC--don't shoot me friends!). It's a strawberry flavor and since my sister in law gave it out as a wedding favor, I've been hooked. So, of course, we served it at our wedding too. If you find yourself in the Spartanburg area--make a stop!

Recently, Southern Living did an article on recipes using sweet tea. My transplanted Southern soul almost did a back-flip when I saw this tart recipe--couldn't get it out of my mind all summer. Finally, I made it and it is wonderful! My changes are in italics. Try it! We LOVED it--almost like a sweet tea version of key lime pie...can't wait to make it for my in-laws. And for my brother. And for my Northern peeps.

Adapted from Southern Living

Yield: SL says 12 servings, I say ~8-10

*For crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies
5 Tbsp. butter, melted (I found this too be WAY too much--I'd do 4 Tbsp. next time...maybe even 3 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar (I skipped this and didn't miss it at all)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

For filling:
2 Tbsp. unsweetened instant iced tea mix (Lipton is a good brand)
2 Tbsp. water (I used lemon juice)
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (I used low-fat)
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp.  lime zest (I used lemon zest)
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For topping:
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp. sugar

Topping Note: if you’re feeling extra lazy, you can use Cool Whip like I did—but I’m sure the real stuff is WAY better.

Garnishes: lemon or orange slices, fresh mint sprigs

To make crust: Stir together all ingredients. Press mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

To make filling: Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together iced tea mix and 2 Tbsp. water (or lemon juice) in a large bowl. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk and next 5 ingredients until blended. Place gingersnap crust on a baking sheet; pour in milk mixture.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or just until filling is set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Remove tart from pan, and place on a serving dish. 

To make topping: Beat cream and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Pipe or dollop on top of tart; garnish, if desired.

*2 (4-oz.) packages ready-made mini graham cracker piecrusts may be substituted.

Note: You may also bake this tart in a 14- x 4-inch tart pan with removable bottom; increase bake time to 25 to 28 minutes or until filling is set.

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