Friday, September 24, 2010

Queen of Tarts!

Pumpkin Maple Brûlée Tarts
Makes 6 4-inch tarts

For the crusts: follow this recipe for making and prebaking the tart shells

For the filling:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • About ¼ cup Demerara sugar

Fill the tart shells, bake the tarts:

Reduce the oven temperature to 300F after prebaking the tart crusts.

Make sure the tart shells are cooled before filling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and maple syrup until combined, followed by the pumpkin puree, spices, and salt. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk into the mixture; don’t whip too much air into the custard base. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup. Place the cooled tart shells onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat. Divide the custard between the prebaked tart shells filling them just a bit below the rim. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the filling appears softly set at the edges but still jiggles. Watch it baking; a minute too long and the texture will be grainy. Cool the tarts on the pan on a cooling rack. After completely cooled, refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Right before serving, sprinkle the surface of each chilled custard tart with a scant 1 tbsp of Demerara sugar. Blow torch the sugar, following all necessary safety measures. Serve at once.

Mini Lemon Tarts

Makes six 4-inch tarts and ten 3-inch tarts

For the crust:

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the filling

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cans (each 14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Meringue


  1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat six 4-inch and ten 3-inch round fluted tart pans with cooking spray. Place 4-inch pans on one rimmed baking sheet and 3-inch pans on another baking sheet.
  2. With a mixer on medium-low speed, beat butter and sugar until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour, pepper, and salt, and beat 1 minute. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat until a dough forms, about 4 minutes.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 31/4-inch circles and place in the 4-inch tart tins, pressing slightly to fill just the bottoms. Cut out 21/4-inch circles and place in 3-inch tart tins, pressing slightly to fill just the bottoms. Bake until pale golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets. (Leave oven on.)
  4. Make the filling: Whisk egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, condensed milk, and salt until smooth. Pour into tart pans. Bake until edges of filling are firm and slightly puffed, about 10 minutes for 3-inch tarts and 14 minutes for 4-inch tarts. Let cool. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then remove sides of tart pans (leaving the base), and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Preheat broiler. Remove bases from tarts, and return tarts to one baking sheet. Place meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (such as Ateco #828). Pipe a dollop of meringue on top of each tart. Broil until top of meringue is just browned, about 30 seconds. (Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to brown meringue.) Serve immediately.

Coconut Raspberry Tarts

Makes 6 4-inch tarts
For the tart crusts:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup ground unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 ½ oz cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and frozen for 20 minutes.
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the raspberry-white chocolate ganache: follow this recipe, it makes just enough to cover the bottoms of the tarts thinly

For the coconut pastry cream filling:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch, sifted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tbsp (2 oz; 55g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-tablespoon portions
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

Make the crusts:
Combine the flour, coconut, icing sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl lightly whisk the yolks and vanilla together. Dribble the yolk mixture through the processor tube while pulsing until clumps form. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly just to incorporate any dry ingredients that haven’t been mixed in. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Butter 6 4-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. On lightly floured surface or on parchment paper, roll the dough into 1/8-inch thickness. Cut the dough into circles a couple inches larger than the tart pans. Carefully transfer the rolled dough into the prepared pans and press the dough onto the bottoms and up the sides of the pans. Cut the excess of the dough. Dock the bottoms of the crusts with a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes. If you are not planning to bake right away, wrap the crusts tightly and keep in the freezer until needed. Do not defrost before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the frozen crusts with parchment paper, then with dry beans or pie weights. Bake for about 15 minutes, until set. Carefully remove the parchment and bake the crusts for another 10-12 minutes until light golden.

Make the coconut pastry cream, assemble the tarts:

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk, milk and vanilla bean (scrape the seeds into the milk) to the boil over the medium heat. Off the heat, cover and let steep for an hour.

Prepare an ice bath.

Return the vanilla-infused milk to the medium heat. Reheat the milk once again to the boiling point. In the meantime, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk together.Once the milk has reached the boil, temper the eggs by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered egg mixture.

Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over the medium heat. Whisk vigorously and continuously until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). The pastry cream should be thick and the cornstarch taste should be all gone. Strain the pastry cream into a small bowl set into the ice-water bath to stop the cooking process.

Continue stirring the mixture at this point so it remains smooth. Once the cream has reached the temperature of 140F remove it from the ice-water bath and stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Return to the ice-water bath to cool completely, stirring often. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly over the surface of the cream and refrigerate up to 2 days.

To assemble the tarts, divide the still pourable raspberry-white chocolate ganache between the prebaked tart crusts, tilt the tart shells so the ganache spreads and covers the bottoms thinly. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to set the ganache. Fill the crusts with the coconut pastry cream, not up to the very edge. Otherwise the pastry cream can overflow once topped with the berries. Scatter the raspberries over the coconut filling, dust lightly with the confectioners’ sugar and serve. The tarts are the best the day they are assembled.

For more recipes to make delicious tarts, go to Baking Obsession.

Art by Angéline Mélin


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