pineapple jam & almond linzer torte

pineapple jam & almond linzer torte

This almond and pineapple jam linzer torte is a more literal take on the pineapple cake, a confection the object of my many affections. It’s a bit like a large, tender, sliceable and shareable version with an extra dose of pineapple jam. This tart is also a great receptacle for using up variable amounts of leftover pineapple jam from other projects.

pineapple jam almond linzer torte
pineapple jam & almond linzer torte
pineapple jam & almond linzer torte

While I only first tried a pineapple cake in high school, reading about others’ childhood memories of pineapple cakes had me nostalgic about the few Chinese snacks from my childhood – which then seemed to manifest as the random-snacks-everywhere!! theme of the photos. I raided my grandparents cupboards for an assortment of snacks forgotten in the back: paper-thin flaky egg roll cookies (which as I kid I was only allowed to eat over the sink due to all the crumbs), liquorice-flavoured preserved ginger, salty-sweet dried orange peel (blackened due to age… it should look brown, but not quite like that), tart chalky haw flakes, and featherlight crisp rice crackers.

The dough for this tart is quite soft, tearable and a bit trickier to work with. I find it’s easier to press the dough into the tart tin for the bottom. Making the lattice on the top is a matter of keeping the dough nicely chilled. Try to be patient – if it starts to get too soft, place the dough briefly back in the freezer.

The overall linzer torte is quite sweet, mostly from the pineapple jam, though the tartness helps to keep it balanced. If you prefer your desserts less sweet, keep the pineapple jam layer thin or check out Lili’s less sweet pineapple jam recipe (I know I’ll try the latter for next year)!

pineapple jam & almond linzer torte

pineapple almond linzer torte

  • Servings: one 6-inch tart
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Adapted from The Little Epicurean. Double the recipe for a 9″ tart.

  • 63g ground almonds
  • 58g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 63g soft butter
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 25g egg, at room temperature
  • about 180g pineapple jam
  • beaten egg for egg wash
  • slivered almonds

Whisk together the ground almonds, flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light. Beat in the vanilla paste. Beat in the egg in two additions. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Divide the dough into two portions, one consisting of a slightly scant 2/3 of the dough (over 160g by weight) and one consisting of  a slightly generous 1/3 of the dough (less than 80g by weight). Chill both pieces.

I used a 15cm (6″) diameter tart ring that was 2cm tall, but you can use a fluted tart pan instead. If you’re using a tart ring, set it on a piece of parchment on a baking tray.

Remove the larger piece of dough from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface into a circle about 1 cm thick (it won’t be big enough to cover the tart tin yet, this is just to get it started). Transfer the dough to the tart ring. Use the flat bottom of a glass to press the dough starting from the middle outwards into an even thickness (about 5mm) lining the bottom and sides of the tart ring. You may need to dip the bottom of the glass in flour to keep it from sticking to the dough. If you have any extra dough, add it to the second portion of dough.

Mix the pineapple jam with 1-2 tbsp water to make the jam softer and more spreadable (if needed). Spread the jam in an even layer in the tart ring.

Roll out the second piece of dough on a piece of parchment paper until it’s a rectangle at least 15cm (6″) long (or the diameter of your tart tin) and about 4mm thick. Chill the rolled out piece of dough in the freezer until firm. Slice the dough into strips 1-cm wide. The strips are much easier to handle when they’re cold so at any point if they start to become too soft, pop the dough back into the freezer to firm up.

Arrange the strips over the tart into an angled lattice pattern. Remove any excess from the edges.

Place the tart in the fridge to chill until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the lattice pattern with beaten egg and sprinkle the edges with slivered almonds.

Bake for around 25-28 minutes or until nicely browned.

spiced chestnut pumpkin tart

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

If there is a film which I’ve watched a number of times, it’s probably the original 90s Jumanji, about a board game come to life. Growing up, movie nights meant a brisk walk to the neighbourhood convenience store. On one side of the cash, against papered up windows, there were a few wire shelves of video cassettes in protective plastic sleeves. It was not the broadest or particularly updated selection. With only a few kids films, I always chose the only one I recognized, one which I had seen in school for Halloween (this is as close as relevant we’re getting for the recipe so make note). In other words, I watched Jumanji a whole lot.

There were two convenience stores in the neighbourhood I grew up in, though now they’re both gone. When I think back, I am surprised at how they kind of did play some role in my childhood – a source of after school snacks, a place to drop off lost keys at the lost-and-found, and that small movie corner which defined the entertainment available to me and the neighbourhood. Maybe in some ways it was a common denominator for the community – yes there was a big Blockbuster a twenty minute walk away which held dozens of copies of new releases, but for those last minute spurious movie impulses, the convenience store shelves were most convenient. It makes me wish I remembered what else was there (excuse my tunnel vision for Jumanji). But maybe every other child in the neighbhourhood also watched Jumanji on repeat? Maybe. The fact that Jumanji was nearly always on the shelf probably meant that not so many people were renting video cassettes any more, anyways.

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream
chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

Halloween = pumpkins and Halloween = Jumanji and so Jumanji = pumpkins and so here is a pumpkin recipe. This is a riff on pumpkin pie (quite literally as a I referenced the pumpkin pie recipe on the pumpkin puree tin while making this) but a sort of ambiguously autumnal version made with chestnut puree and a gently infused spiced milk. Plus, a kinako (roasted soybean powder) cream ring which I did on a whim, but loved – it complements the squash and chestnuts so well. (Maybe try a dusting of kinako on your pumpkin pie?)

chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

spiced chestnut pumpkin tart with kinako cream

  • Servings: eight inch tart
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Adapted, vaguely, from the pumpkin pie recipe on the pumpkin puree tin.

special equipment: 8-inch fluted tart tin

infused milk

  • 100g milk
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • pinch peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 slice of fresh ginger

pastry

  • 210g flour, half all-purpose and half whole-wheat
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 115g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

filling

  • 125g chestnut puree (pure chestnut puree; not creme de marron)
  • 125g pumpkin puree
  • 40g maple syrup
  • 7g granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 75g eggs (1 1/2 large eggs)
  • 180g infused milk

to serve

  • 120g whipped cream
  • 4g kinako (optional)
  • garnishes – salted roasted squash seeds and sliced roasted chestnuts

For the infused milk, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. Pass the milk through a sieve to remove the spices before using.

For the pastry, place the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and process until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg and process until the dough comes together – it will take about 30 seconds.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and let soften on the counter for about 10-15 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick or your desired thickness. Trim into a rough circle, about 11″ in diametre. Drape over an 8″ tart tin and press into all the corners and up the sides. Trim any excess and patch any tears (it’s a delicate pastry so it may happen, but it’s easy to fix!).

Cover and place in the fridge to chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Dock the bottom of the tart crust with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp, but still pale. Set aside and begin making the filling.

For the filling, lower the heat to 325F. Press the chestnut puree through a fine sieve to make sure it is smooth, then cream the chestnut puree and pumpkin puree together in a bowl. Add the maple syrup, sugar and salt and mix until combined, then whisk in the eggs. Lastly, blend in the infused milk.

Pour the filling into the partially baked crust (if not all of it fits, you can bake the leftover in a muffin cup lined with a paper liner). Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until only the centre jiggles and an inserted knife is removed clean.

Let cool, then chill completely.

Finish with the garnishes. Whip the cream and kinako in a bowl until billowy (if you don’t have kinako, feel free to substitute a bit of sugar and vanilla extract instead). Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a petal tip and pipe cream along the edge of the tart. Sprinkle with roasted squash seeds and slices of roasted chestnut.

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

Please be advised that this post discusses residential schools and the recent tragic discoveries of unmarked graves.

What sort of school comes with a graveyard?

About three months ago the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation found the remains of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Residential School. Not long after, the Cowessess First Nation who reported 751 unmarked grave sites by Marieval Residential School. Then there were more and more – and still many other investigations are currently underway. These finding reflected what families and survivors had been explaining all along. Survivors of these “schools” (and remember, the last one closed in only 1996) live with trauma, their descendants with intergenerational trauma, yet have been continually questioned and disbelieved. I can only begin to imagine the complexity of the recent news for affected communities: the importance of these discoveries, but also the retraumatization, the grieving, and even after all this, encountering the resistance of institutions to release records and minimal political will for change.

And to be clear, it doesn’t end there and never really has. The Sixties Scoop saw, through child welfare services, a mass removal of indigenous children from their families. These policies persist to this day: over half of children in care are Indigenous and there are more children currently separated from their families today than there were during the height of the residential school system. Dozens of children continue to die in care every year – see in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. This is not just something for us to move past – and we have blueprints from the TRC and MMIWG recommendations of what needs to change.

peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

Just how many wake-up calls do we need? This should be an election issue, yet it doesn’t seem to be. With the federal election happening soon, ask candidates in your riding what plans they have to implement the TRC and MMIWG recommendations.

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peach almond crostata
peach almond crostata

This peach almond crostata is very much inspired by Forno Cultura‘s summer peach crostata. And what a great formula for a fruit tart it is: pastry, almond cream, jam, sliced fruit and slivered almonds to fill in the gaps. The exciting new component for me is the pasta frolla, which makes up a sweet and tender crust with a biscuity crispness to it… I can’t wait to make more crostatas next summer!

peach almond crostata

peach almond crostata

  • Servings: one 14 by 4 1/2 inch tart (36 by 12cm)
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Crostata inspired by Forno Cultura. Pasta frolla adapted from Domenica Marchetti. Almond cream based on a typical frangipane ratio.

special equipment

  • 14×4 1/2 inch rectangular tart tin (36x12cm)

pasta frolla

  • 180g all-purpose flour
  • 40g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 110g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

peach jam

  • 1 1/2 peaches, peeled, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

almond cream

  • 56g soft butter
  • 45g granulated sugar
  • 65g finely ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 12g all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp amaretto (or dark rum)

assembly

  • 2 peaches
  • slivered almonds
  • apricot jam to glaze (optional)

For the pasta frolla, place the flour, icing sugar and salt in the bowl a food process and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the egg and process until the dough begins to come together into a few large clumps – it will take a little while, around 30 seconds.

Press the dough together into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

For the peach jam, place the chopped peach and sugar together int a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the peach is softened. Crush with a potato masher or back of a fork to a rough puree, then bring to a simmer for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and jam-like. Let cool.

For the almond cream, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in the almonds, then beat in the egg. Next, mix in the flour and finally the amaretto.

To assemble, roll out the pasta frolla on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 3mm (1/4″) thick. Drape over a 36x12cm rectangular tart tin, pressing the dough into all the edges and corners and trimming off the excess. Patch any tears. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread the almond cream into the bottom of the tart. Dollop small spoonfuls of the jam evenly overtop and then gently spread to cover most of the surface (if you’re having trouble spreading the jam you can chill the almond cream first to firm it up a bit).

Cut the two peaches in half. Slice each half into thin slices. Set aside a few of the smaller slices from each end and fan the remaining slices alongside one edge of the tart (see pictures). Sprinkle the remaining surface area with slivered almonds.

Bake about 40 minutes or until the tart is browned. If you’d like to glaze the peach slices, melt together 1-2 tsp apricot jam with 1/4-1/2 tsp water and brush over the baked peaches. Let cool completely.

cardamom-poached rhubarb & browned butter almond tart

poached rhubarb almond tart
poached rhubarb almond tart
poached rhubarb almond tart

It seems just as quickly as rhubarb was here, with elephantine leaves and strikingly red stalks, it’s starting to slow down and fade. Though that means it’s just the beginning of the rest of the garden, so I’ll temper my disappointment with dreams of peas! And lettuces! Maybe even a zucchini or too? But until then, we obviously need to cram in as much rhubarb as we can!

This time I made a mild riff on a rhubarb and almond tart, using a browned butter almond cream and thick lengths of cardamom-poached rhubarb. It is sort of an updated version of this old tart, one of the recipes I posted in my early years of blogging. I was surprised how well the browned butter comes through in the almond cream – it bakes up buttery, cakey, and fragrant, interrupted with super tender tart rhubarb.

poached rhubarb almond tart
poached rhubarb almond tart

This recipe is pretty much the classic almond and fruit tart, with an extra bit here or there. While it’s not strictly necessary, I think gentle poaching the rhubarb before baking in the tart makes the rhubarb particularly tender. I prefer making this tart with thick rhubarb if you have access to it – the sort of hefty stalks that are an inch or more in diametre. I find they handle the poach and baking best. When I tried with thinner rhubarb, while still good, the stalks do wither in the oven and remain a bit stringy.

Of course, the size of your rhubarb will determine how many lengths of rhubarb are needed along the tart – whether just eight or so, as in the case of mine, or double that number (hence about 2/slice). Try arranging the pieces in your tart pan to determine how many you need. And be sure to poach a couple extra, just in case.

poached rhubarb almond tart

cardamom-poached rhubarb & browned butter almond tart

  • Servings: one 13 by 4-inch rectangular tart
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special equipment: 13×4″ rectangular fluted tart tin

cardamom-poached rhubarb

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 medium green cardamom pods, cracked open
  • about 250g rhubarb, cut into 9-10cm lengths

pastry

  • 200g flour, half all-purpose and half whole-wheat
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg

brown butter almond cream

  • 75g butter
  • 5g milk powder (optional)
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 75g finely ground almonds
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • generous pinch salt
  • 75g egg
  • 16g flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp dark rum

poached rhubarb

Place the water, sugar and cardamom pods in a saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the rhubarb pieces, presentation side up (sometimes the skin on the bottom side can crack a bit when simmered). Adjust the heat as needed to warm the syrup back up to a simmer (but not a boil!!). Then remove from the heat, cover, and allow the rhubarb to cool in the syrup. This way we can gently poach the rhubarb, but avoid overcooking it – be all the more careful to avoid overcooking if you’re using small rhubarb. If not using the same day, gently transfer the rhubarb and syrup to a container and chill completely.

pastry

Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Then add the egg and process for about 30 seconds or until the dough comes together. Press into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until about 3mm thick. Drape over a 13×4″ rectangular tart tin, press into all the corners and trim any excess. Patch any tears that form with scraps of dough. Cover and chill completely.

almond cream

Place the butter in a small pan with the milk powder and cook, stirring, until the butter solids are golden brown and fragrant. Immediately transfer the butter to a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool completely until it re-solidifies.

Cream together the cooled butter, sugar and salt. Add the ground cardamom and almonds, then mix in the egg. Next stir in the flour followed by the vanilla extract and rum.

assembly

Preheat the oven to 350F. Dock the bottom of the pastry all over with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry appears to lighten and dry. Let cool.

Spread the almond cream in an even layer in the bottom of the tart tin. Drain the poached rhubarb and arrange overtop. Return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the almond cream is lightly browned.

Let cool and dust with icing sugar (not because it needs additional sweetness – this is purely for aesthetic so feel free to skip!) just prior to serving.

burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin

burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin
burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin
burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin

I am often not a fan of bananas, but they take to caramel so naturally and really start to taste quite good while they’re at it too. So it’s no surprise that tarte tatin is deemed an acceptable receptacle for bananas in my book. (Banana bread is alright too, if we must!)

This particular tarte tatin was inspired by a flavour combination from one of Ottolenghi’s columns in the Guardian – caramelized bananas with miso and anise. I love the combination, which I’ve transferred over to a tarte tatin, made dark, bitter and salty.

Continue reading “burnt miso & star anise banana tarte tatin”

grapefruit cream tart (& stop asian hate)

grapefruit cream tart
grapefruit cream tart
grapefruit cream tart

It was over a year ago (can you believe we’ve been in the pandemic for over a year now?) when I wrote about a resurgence in anti-Asian sentiments, driven by racist pandemic rhetoric but symptomatic of underlying currents of white supremacy that continue to persist. I thought I was taking it seriously then, but when I go back and read what I wrote, that “anti-Chinese racism[…] is alive and thriving in Canada, I didn’t doubt,” it rings weakly. At the time, I don’t think I really, really meant it. Not in a way that could imagine what happened in Atlanta was possible. Who would ever want to think such a thing could happen? – is my excuse.

I’ve been thinking more about why I kept harbouring hesitancy about the extent of anti-Asian racism, even when I’m a descendant of immigrants who paid an astronomical head tax, and other members of my extended family were interned. I think it’s because the model minority myth has been pervasive in my thinking – it posits that “Asians are pretty much white,” collapses the experiences of a diverse group into one, and suggests that the socioeconomic successes of some members means that structural barriers don’t exist. All of which are false. This is what I need to unlearn.

Continue reading “grapefruit cream tart (& stop asian hate)”

saffron poached pear & pistachio tart

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

Recently I was discussing music preferences – something I always struggle to describe. For one, I’m terrible at recognizing genres and I still don’t understand what makes pop pop or rock rock or alternative alternative. (That last one especially…but being confused by genres may not be as silly as I think!)

“Okay, well, what songs do you listen to?” my friend asked as a second resort. I paused, pondered why I often forget song titles, and settled for mentioning a few artists that I listen to instead. In retrospect, and perhaps rather obviously, the easiest unit with which to describe what I listen to is albums. Definitely a bit more encompassing than a single song, and more specific than an artist – particularly as when it comes to an artist with varying style, I may like the style from one album more than another.

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

This all to say, we’re still fairly fresh into the new year which means that various 2020 listicles still make sense – right?! So this time: my favourite albums that I started listening to over the past year, though I never keep up with music so these are not particularly recent releases.

1. the ballad of the runaway girl (2018) – elisapie

This is no surprise since I already wrote a whole blog post on this album! My favourite album so far from Elisapie Isaac – and it makes me excited to see what she does next.

favourite tracks: una, wolves don’t live by the rules, rodeo

2. omoiyari (2019) – kishi bashi

Omoiyari was written about the Japanese Internment in the United States. For a reflection on a dark time, it sounds strange to say that this album is also charming, hopeful and a pleasure to listen to. But it is – and perhaps the ambiance of the album is best encapsulated by omoiyari which, as Kishi Bashi explains, “refers to the idea of creating compassion towards other people by thinking about them. I think the idea of omoiyari is the single biggest thing that can help us overcome aggression and conflict.” (Quote from Bandcamp album description.)

favourite tracks: penny rabbit and summer bear, summer of ’42

3. carrie & lowell (2015) – sufjan stevens

For the last several years, all I’ve listened of Sufjan Steven’s discography has been Illinois. I’m so glad I finally tried to listen to more – he’s dabbled in a variety of styles, and this album is beautiful, melancholy in parts, heartbreaking in others.

favourite tracks (slightly arbitrary as I love every single song): fourth of july, eugene, no shade in the shadow of the cross

4. dark arc (2014) – saintseneca

Even though saintseneca is new to me, this album would have especially fit right into the music I listened to 5-10 years ago – it sounds a bit like Chad van Gaalen’s Diaper Island with vocals that remind me of Neutral Milk Hotel, but in crisp focus.

favourite tracks: fed up with hunger, uppercutter

5. run river north (2014) – run river north

Run River North’s debut album plays like a cross between early Of Monsters and Men with the country-folk vibes of Head and the Heart. I have a weakness for lush tracks with expansive instrumentals and catchy lyrics sung in chorus…of which this album has plenty.

favourite tracks: beetle, foxbeard

saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart
saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

This tart has saffron and cardamom poached pears baked over pistachio orange blossom frangipane. The pears are tender, the frangipane cakey and sweet, and the aromatic flavours are predictably wonderful – in particular, I love the orange blossom pistachio frangipane, a combination inspired by pistachio maamoul filling.

It’s essentially a riff on a classic pear and almond frangipane tart, but I love this particular combo enough that I’ve made this tart a few times now. Depending on the size of your pears, you’ll be able to fit more or less into the tart. I do prefer how it looks with smaller pears – but it will work with whatever you have!

SAM_1627saffron-poached pear and pistachio tart

saffron poached pear & pistachio tart

  • Servings: one 14 by 4 1/2 inch tart (36 by 12cm)
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pastry

  • 205g flour, half all-purpose, half whole wheat
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 113g cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 room temperature large egg

saffron and cardamom poached pears

  • 3 small-medium Bartlett pears
  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 5 large green cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

pistachio orange blossom cream

  • 56g soft butter
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 15g almond meal
  • 50g pistachios, finely ground
  • 1 large egg
  • 12g flour (~2 tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

assembly

  • chopped pistachios

pastry

Place the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until incorporated and the mixture has the texture of fine crumbs. Finally, add the egg and process until the dough comes together – it will take about 30 seconds. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill completely.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to around 1/8″ thick and into a rectangle larger than the tart pan. Drape the dough into the tart pan, press into all the corners and trim excess dough. Cover and chill completely.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Dock the bottom of the tart dough all over with a fork. Bake just for around 10 minutes or until the dough is dry. Cool.

poached pears

Peel, halve and core the pears. Place in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Add the saffron, cardamom and sugar. Bring to a boil and set on a quiet simmer until the pears are just tender, around 15 minutes depending on the size of the pears.

pistachio orange blossom cream

Cream the butter with the sugar until light. Add the ground pistachios and almond.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add to the butter mixture in four additions, beating in each addition thoroughly before adding the next. Finally, mix in the flour, then the orange blossom water and vanilla extract. Store refrigerated.

assembly

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the pistachio cream evenly in the partially baked and cooled tart shell. Slice the pear halves and arrange overtop of the cream – depending on the size of your pears, you will be able to fit 5 or 6 halves. Sprinkle any patches of frangipane not covered by pear with chopped pistachios. 

Bake for around 40-45 minutes or until any frangipane on the surface is golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing.

black sesame & raspberry tarts

black sesame & raspberry tarts

These tarts have a pairing of two strong flavours that manage to hold up against each other: tart raspberry and toasted black sesame. They have a chocolate tart shell filled with caramelized white chocolate and black sesame mousse, topped with raspberry jam, raspberries and a black sesame brandy snap. I don’t know that I’d call it the most harmonious flavour combination, but I think it works nonetheless in it’s own bickering way.

black sesame & raspberry tarts
black sesame & raspberry tarts
black sesame & raspberry tarts
black sesame & raspberry tarts

My favourite part of this tart is the black sesame brandy snap – a crisp wafer that tastes of caramel, butter, and well-toasted black sesame (like a thinner and lacier sesame snap). I’ve made them before, such as in this black sesame ice cream sundae, but in this case I’ve made them larger and baked them in rings so that they come out perfectly circular and the same size as the tarts.

This was inspired by fancy tarts I’ve seen with discs of tempered chocolate perched overtop piped ganache. As I don’t know how to work with chocolate, I thought a lacy brandysnap would be an easy substitute instead. (The recipe makes plenty of extra to nibble on!)

black sesame & raspberry tarts
black sesame & raspberry tarts
black sesame & raspberry tarts

black sesame and raspberry tarts

Mousse a vague sort of average of chocolate and non-chocolate mousse recipes and an amount of gelatin based on guesswork and a bit of trial-and-error. Jam based on the pectin package instructions. Brandy snaps adapted from BBC Good Food.

special equipment: four 4″/10cm tart rings (I use some conveniently-sized cookie cutters)

cocoa tart shell

  • 175g all-purpose flour
  • 18g icing sugar
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 113g (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, cold

black sesame and caramelized white chocolate mousse

  • 40g whole milk
  • 45g roasted black sesame paste
  • 45g heavy cream
  • 45g white chocolate (or caramelized white chocolate)
  • good pinch salt
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatin bloomed in 1 tbsp water
  • 145 whipped cream

raspberry jam

  • 135g raspberries
  • 15g granulated sugar
  • 6g pectin

black sesame brandy snaps

  • 36g butter
  • 36g brown sugar
  • 36g corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp brandy or rum (optional)
  • 36g flour
  • good pinch salt
  • 18g lightly toasted black sesame seeds

assembly

  • about 60 raspberries

black sesame tart shell

Place the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter chunks and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs, then add the egg and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball. Divide the dough in half and roll out each between parchment to about 3mm thick. Chill completely.

For more details and photographs of lining tart rings (including an alternate tidier, but a bit trickier, method), look at this page. Have four 4″ tart rings and a baking tray lined with a sheet of parchment ready.

Use the tart rings to cut a base for the tarts from one half of the rolled dough. Then trim the remaining piece of dough into a rectangle and slice into long strips – they should be longer than the circumference of the rings and a bit wider than the height of the tart rings. Take a strip and use it to line the sides of a tart ring, cutting the excess length and pressing the two edges together to seal (have a bit of overlap to help seal). Press along the seam between the bottom and side to seal.

Cover and chill the tart shells completely. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prick the bases of the tart shells all over with a fork. Bake the tart shells until crisp, around 25 minutes.

black sesame and caramelized white chocolate mousse

Heat the milk until steaming, the whisk into the black sesame paste. Separately, heat the cream until it boils, then pour over the white chocolate. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Combine the two mixtures along with a pinch of salt.

Melt the bloomed gelatin (5-10 seconds by microwave), and whisk into the black sesame paste/white chocolate mixture. If the mixture is hot, let it cool a bit more, but not enough such that it sets. Then whisk a dollop of the whipped cream into the mixture to lighten and then fold in the remainder.

Distribute the mousse amongst the four prebaked tart shells until nearly the top and shake back and forth to level the mousse. You may have a few spoonfuls leftover.

raspberry jam

Place the raspberries and granulated sugar together in a small saucepan and crush with a fork. Cook until the mixture comes to a simmer and the raspberries have broken down. Stir in the pectin and bring the mixture to a boil to dissolve the pectin. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. Chill until ready to use.

black sesame brandy snaps

This will make enough for about 9-10 brandy snaps, though we’ll only need four. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a tray with parchment paper and place the same 4-inch tart rings you used to bake the tart shells on the tray.

Melt the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Once melted, combine with the brandy/rum, flour, salt and black sesame.

Dollop 2 tsp of batter in the centre of each ring. Bake for around 10-12 minutes or until golden brown – the batter will bubble and should spread until it fills the ring. Let cool on the tray before moving, and then repeat with the remaining batter until it is all used up.

Once completely cooled, keep the brandy snaps in an airtight container until use.

assembly

Assemble just before serving to keep the brandy snaps crisp. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on top of the mousse. Arrange raspberries on top, approximately 15 on each tart, beginning with a ring around the edge. Place a brandy snap on top (I prefer the bottom side of the brandy snap to be up). These tarts can be made about a day ahead of time, but do not put the brandy snap on top until you’re ready to serve – otherwise it will eventually soften from the moisture in the tart.

Recipe and photos updated Jun 2022.

caramelized nut & cranberry tart

caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart
caramel, nut & cranberry tart

(A cringe warning – this post is about self-consciousness, something I am well acquainted with! Do feel free to scroll very quickly past to the recipe.)

Dear future self,

There is one key piece of advice that emerged from the small group discussion we had that I think is rather important for you (and for me right now as well) to hear again (and again): no one else is going to remember your embarrassing moments.

The times that your answer is totally off in left field – or you don’t even have an answer. Or the times that you start to get nervous while presenting and you suspect that there may be a slightly audible tremor in your voice. Or the times that you respond lamely or laugh at the wrong moment or make a joke that falls flat.

Maybe if it happens all the time they will remember (I suppose the flat jokes are my only jokes), but the single fleeting moments will be forgotten because, to be quite honest, they are utterly inconsequential!

No one will remember them. Except you, that is. You who does tend to run these select memories over and over in your head like a mobius strip-cassette tape… all while liberally imagining other’s thoughts to feed the part of you that relishes feeling terribly bad about yourself. You remember way more than enough for everyone!

You know what? You can probably let it go. And embarrassing moments will continue happening so often as you go forwards that your only option will be to let it go – and if you can do so a bit faster, everything will go a bit easier as a result.

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