TART TO HEART

Sarah Tuck has dessert cov­ered with her el­e­gant French tarts

Cuisine - - CONTENTS - Recipes & food styling Sarah Tuck Pho­tog­ra­phy Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Las­celles

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.

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

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