TART TO HEART
Sarah Tuck has dessert covered with her elegant French tarts
I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED a good tart – they’re a perfect dessert option as all the hard work is done in advance, but you still get a spectacular “ta dah!” moment on serving. When making tarts, I find it important to relax in the pastry department – sometimes it’s hard to get in the tin and patching is required. Don’t panic! Once cooked and filled, no one will ever know…
PRUNE & ARMAGNAC TART WITH SPIKED CREAM
SERVES 8 -10/ PREPARATION 25 MINUTES PLUS SOAKING TIME / COOKING 50 MINUTES
I am often found adding a slug of this or that to my desserts, and in this case the addition of grunty yet aromatic Armagnac elevates the prune and almond filling from rustic to elegant.
FOR THE PRUNES & PASTRY
400g dried prunes (I used Sunsweet) ⅓ cup Armagnac (or use any brandy or sherry) baking oil spray 110g cold butter, chopped ⅓ cup icing sugar 1 cup flour plus extra for dusting ½ cup ground almonds Put the prunes in a container and cover with Armagnac. Seal and leave to soak for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Spray the base of a 25cm removable base tart tin very lightly with baking oil and use a pastry brush to distribute it evenly on the base and sides.
Put the butter, icing sugar, flour and ground almonds in a food processor and whiz just until it forms big clumpy breadcrumbs. Add 2 teaspoons iced water and pulse until it all comes together in a ball. Pat into a disc, flour the top and bottom lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge, sit for 5-10 minutes, then roll out on a floured surface into a circle a little bigger than your tin. Use a big fish slice or similar if required to unwedge it from the bench. (When flouring the bench, flour an area as big as you want to roll your pastry.)
Gently squish the pastry into place up the sides of the tin and press gently into the base. Patch up any tears – you will never see them – but you do want to finish with an evenly distributed pastry base. Chill the pastry in the freezer for 10 minutes while the oven preheats to 180˚C. FOR THE FILLING & TO COOK 2 eggs 1 egg yolk ¼ cup ground almonds ⅓ cup caster sugar 200ml creme fraiche 100ml cream 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped 1 egg white, whisked Put the eggs, yolk, almonds, sugar, creme fraiche, cream and vanilla seeds in a large jug and whisk until smooth.
Gently prick the base of the pastry with a fork and cut out a large circle of baking paper – it needs to come up the inside sides of the pastry. Put it inside the tart case and fill it with baking beans or rice.
Cook for 12 minute then remove from the oven and carefully remove the paper and beans or rice.
Brush with the egg white and cook a further 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 160˚C.
Drain the prunes, reserving the brandy. Add the brandy to the custard mixture and whisk to combine. Dot the prunes into the pastry case and pour over the filling.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is just set. Leave to cool in the tin and serve at room temperature with Armagnac-spiked cream.
250ml cream 2 tablespoons icing sugar 1-2 tablespoons Armagnac Beat the cream, icing sugar and Armagnac to soft peaks. Serve with the tart.
This elegant almond tart features the classic southwest French pairing of prunes and Armagnac brandy, with an extra boozy hit courtesy of Armagnac-spiked cream