an olive oil panna cotta tart flavoured with honey and vanilla to reinforce its dessert allegiance, plus figs.
Sometimes I question myself – how do I still not have a go-to recipe for most things…such as a pate sucree? Every time I tend to use something a bit different – either because I start looking at different reference recipes or I start making up my own based on ratios (which themselves change, varying from 3:2 flour to butter like a shortbread to 2:1 flour to butter). Or I look at my previous posts and then start adapting those adaptations depending on what little bits of egg I have left in the fridge or how much butter I want to use…
Perhaps another reason I never settle on one recipe is because I’m constantly switching up how much whole wheat flour I use, or I try to make as little pastry as possible for the project and end up needing to roll it very thin– which works better some times than other times. I’ve been making more tarts recently though, so perhaps that will push me to finally settle on a tart dough.
Recently I’ve been experimenting with making browned butter cream using my mum’s vintage Bel cream maker, which of course led me to wonder about other types of fats that could be emulsified into milk, such as an olive oil cream.
Olive oil cream is a bit tricker to make than the brown butter cream as I couldn’t barely generate a transient emulsion prior to passing the mixture through the cream maker, but a cream it does make. Unlike the browned butter cream, which immediately tastes delightful, olive oil cream could be described as a bit like a rather bland salad dressing or a very thin mayonnaise. But add a bit of sugar to it, and it stops tasting like an indecisive sauce and wears the cloak of dessert quite wonderfully.
(The other question I had was: can I whip olive oil cream? I didn’t have very high expectations give the liquid nature of olive oil, but I gave it a try anyways. I got no further than some bubbles.)
I decided to turn the olive oil cream into a panna cotta tart, flavoured with honey and vanilla to reinforce the sweetness of the olive oil.
With such an initially liquidy filling, this project definitely requires a pastry with integrity, both emotionally and structurally. The pastry recipe I made works but take care to prevent leaks with the following steps:
- It is worth giving the pastry a couple of kneads to make it cohesive and a bit stronger – when baked to crispness, it won’t be tough
- Patch very carefully prior to baking, especially if your pastry didn’t transfer to the tart pan all in one piece; watch out for any cracks
- After you’re done blind baking, check for holes and cracks that may have formed and patch with a bit of the left over dough (plus a bit of egg white over the seam to help seal)
- Near the end of baking, brush all over with a bit of egg white to seal
- Just to be on the safe side, the most foolproof and protective seal of all is a thinly brushed layer of white chocolate over the cooked tart shell (I wanted a down-low chocolate flavour to the tart, but dark chocolate is fine too if you prefer)
I used a slightly higher proportion of gelatin than I usually use for panna cotta to help the filling keep its shape when cut – it has the delightful texture of silken tofu. You can change the proportions of olive oil cream and milk or normal cream as desired.
The filling tastes definitively of olive oil, but tempered with milk and perfumed with honey and vanilla. The crust has a bit of cocoa powder in it for bitterness and the white chocolate layer keeps the crust crisp and firm. And oh I wish I could have figs on everything.
olive oil panna cotta tart with figs
Makes one tart, approximately 13×4″. Panna cotta filling likely makes extra (depends on how much the pastry has shrunken), which can be set in ramekins or small jars and served with fruit. Pastry adapted from one of my previous adaptations of the pate sucree from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt.
cocoa and whole wheat pastry
80g soft butter
35g beaten egg
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
20g cocoa powder
130g whole wheat flour
cold water, as needed to bring pastry together
egg white, to seal
melted white chocolate, to seal
olive oil cream
100g olive oil
vanilla honey olive oil panna cotta
240g olive oil cream
1″ length of vanilla bean (we’ll get as much as we can out of it because vanilla is so expensive these days!)
2 3/4 tsp powdered gelatin + 2 tbsp water to bloom
For the pastry, cream the butter, egg, salt and sugar together (it’s easiest to cream the egg in a bit at a time). Add the cocoa powder and flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until a crumbly dough is formed, adding some extra water or egg to just bring it together. Knead briefly to bring dough together, then press into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill completely.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle. Drape over and press into a rectangular tart pan, approximately 13×4″. Trim the edges, dock the pastry by pricking the bottom all over with a fork, and chill completely.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with rice to blind bake the tart shell. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove the parchment and continue baking until shell is dry and firm. Brush with a bit of egg white and return to the oven for a few minutes until it is cooked to help form a seal.
After the tart shell has cooled, brush it with some melted white chocolate, particularly over any cracks or gaps as an additional sealing measure.
To make the olive oil cream, warm the 200g milk, add the olive oil and whisk vigorously for a couple minutes to achieve an emulsion, or as close as you can get. This will help the production of cream using the Bel cream maker. Pass the mixture through a Bel cream maker.
To make the panna cotta filling, combine the 360g milk and 240g olive oil cream in a saucepan. Split the 1″ length of vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds, adding them to the milk mixture. Add the pod as well so that its flavours can infuse out into the milk. Stir in the honey. Heat the milk and cream until quite warm, then cover and set aside for twenty minutes to steep with the vanilla pod, or overnight (placed in the fridge).
Remove the vanilla pod and rewarm the milk mixture so that it won’t shock the gelatin. Bloom the gelatin in the water and melt in the microwave (<20 seconds should be enough). Stir in a bit of the warm milk, then add the gelatin-milk mixture back to the rest of milk mixture. Stir and ladle into the tart shell. If there is extra filling, place it in ramekins or small jars to set.
Let the tart set in the fridge for at least four hours if not overnight. Once set, slice figs into wedges and arrange overtop.