French chefs’ culinary skill with eggs is legendary. Years ago, before I knew I should avoid gluten like a berth on the ill-fated Titanic, I was asked to assist French master Chef René Verdon in editing recipes for two cookbooks. Verdon presided over the White House kitchens during the Kennedy administration and later opened a fine restaurant in San Francisco.
As my work with Verdon involved taking notes while he worked in his professional kitchen, I was able to watch and learn as he prepared dozens of authentic French dishes. One of my all-time favorites is a country dessert from the Vendée region, where he was born, known simply as Le Tourteau Fromage. Essentially a super-light, creamy cheesecake made from mellow white goat’s cheese, beaten eggs and lemon zest baked in a crisp pastry shell, it’s addictive.
The original recipe for this delectable dessert can be found in master chef René Verdon’s Convection Cuisine. (The book is now out of print but well worth owning for the great recipes if you can find a used copy.) I have tweaked this timeless recipe slightly to make it gluten free. You will need to prepare our Almond Meal Crust for this recipe.
- 1 almond meal tart crust, in 9-inch x 1-inch tart pan, unbaked (see recipe link in note above)
- 4 ½ ounces fresh white goat cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 5 tablespoons (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) sorghum flour
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon milk
Heat the oven to 375° F. Bake the tart crust for 15 minutes, checking halfway through to make sure no bubbles have formed (if so, quickly pierce with a knife tip) until very lightly colored. Remove the crust from the oven, leaving it in the pan, and let cool slightly.
Increase the oven heat to 400° F. In a large bowl, beat the goat cheese and butter together until creamy. Beat in 2 ½ tablespoons of the sugar, the sorghum flour, potato starch, vanilla and lemon zest. Add the egg yolks and milk, and mix until smooth.
Using clean, dry beaters, whip the egg whites until they hold their shape, add the remaining 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is stiff. Stir one-quarter of the egg-white mix into the goat cheese mixture, to loosen it, and then lightly fold in the rest. Pour into the tart shell, smooth the top and bake for 18 minutes.
The filling will rise into a golden dome, which will sink a little as it cools. Transfer the tart, still in the pan, to a wire rack and let cool.
Recipes © copyright 2013 by Jacqueline Mallorca.
The author of more than a dozen cookbooks, Gluten-Free Living Food Editor Jackie Mallorca’s most recent titles include The Wheat-Free Cook and Gluten-Free Italian. For more information, tips and recipes, visit her website at GlutenFreeExpert.com.