Lemon-Ricotta Pop Tarts

Here I am again, caught in my perpetual easily-sidetracked tendency and before I know it, my drafts are piling up crying out to be finalized so my blog won’t feel neglected and abandoned.  I tried to decide which one to finish first for posting- should I do it in the order they were drafted or just do it randomly or do it in “eeny, meeny, miny, moe way?”  The baker in me whispered in my ear and reminded me that I have not posted my lemon-ricotta pop tarts.  What a shame!  How can I be so lazy to postpone sharing this delicious experience with you?  These are not of the same mold as the commercial pop tarts that are too sugary and just not my cup of tea. These are thicker but flaky crusts encasing the delicious combination of lemon curd and ricotta cheese just lightly sweetened and perfumed with pure vanilla.
I was watching Unique Sweets over the Cooking Channel and Knead Patisserie was featured.  I was instantaneously drawn to the lemon-ricotta pop tarts because they look so close to the pastelitos-de-guayaba and turnovers I made not too long ago.  Even the dough's make is but a little deviation from the sour cream pastry dough that I love.  Cream cheese instead of sour cream... I was like- are you freaking kidding me?  If you have tried using cream cheese to make your dough, then you know what I mean!  

The filling is a combination of lemon curd and ricotta cheese and while I don't need a recipe for the dough, I had to seek the help of Ina Garten in making my lemon curd.  I would normally decrease the sugar by half a cup when following other recipes but this time, I opted not to because I was thinking it should balance it out with the amount of lemon juice and lemon zest in the mixture.  I was right!  It was perfect!
Lemon Curd


3 lemons
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate
Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

2 cups all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2/3 cup softened cream cheese

1. Combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture feels like course sand. I took the easier route and pulsed it in a food processor.
2. Stir in cream cheese. Use your fingers to press into a ball.
3. Divide in half and flatten into a roughly square shape. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours up to 3 days.
4. After dough is done, it's time to prepare the ricotta cheese filling:

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract 

Stir together then chill in the refrigerator

5. Meanwhile, remove one piece of dough from the fridge.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before rolling on a floured surface.  Roll into a rectangle- a bit less than 1/8 inch thick,
6. Cut the pastry into 2″x3″ rectangles. (After you cut rectangles, you can ball-up and re-roll left-over dough.) Lay half of them on a un-greased baking sheet. Place a rounded teaspoon of the ricotta cheese filling on the center of each rectangles.
7. Top with a dollop of lemon curd.
8. Brush egg wash along the edges of each pastry and rest another rectangle of dough on top. Press down on the edges to seal. Use a sharp knife to make three little slits on each pastry.
9. Brush all of them with egg wash and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Now you can preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and work on the other piece of dough (repeating steps 5 through 8 with it).
10. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serve warm

The procedure is similar to making pastelitos.  Notice that I did not brush the tops with egg wash.  I wanted to shower the pastries with sifted powdered sugar for a change.
Yum yum...I may have failed in making my pop tarts uniform in size;  my pictures may not be awesome but these are soo good!  I chose not to seal the edges all the way.  I kinda like the drama of the lemon curd oozing out invitingly from the pastry shell. 

Preparing the three components- cream cheese pastry dough, lemon curd and ricotta cheese filling can be done interchangeably.  I did the pastry dough first as it needs to be refrigerated for at least four hours before using; followed by the lemon curd and the ricotta cheese filling which needs some time in the fridge as well.  Sealing the pastry rectangles is easier when the filling is somewhat stable and firm. 


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