So, last Sunday I was wandering around town just before lunch. And everybody knows it is a bad idea to be around food before your meals. I came across Tarte which I have been reading about for a while and decided to pop in for a look-see. The thing about bakeries, it is the most tempting early in the day, as they would usually have the full selection available. True enough, there were so many tarts available, I ended up buying 2 (I was only supposed to get one) – a pistachio tart and a dark chocolate tart. It has been a long time since I have eaten a tart that impressed me, but this one, this one definitely did. The crust was simply amazing. Thin, just firm enough so that it did not crack uncontrollably when you bite into it, but still light and crispy. In fact, it was so good, I hardly noticed the tart filling! To be fair, maybe I just was not that impressed by the pistachio filling. It was on the sweet side, and it just did not rock my world. Which was a pity. But that tart crust, it made me want to run to my kitchen and try out yet another tart recipe. And after much research, I decided to try out the tart crust recipe from Dominique Ansel’s The Secret Recipes, with some slight modification.
Makes 8 8cm mini round tarts
For the vanilla sablé tart shell dough
127g unsalted butter, softened
85g confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
50g egg (just shy of 1 large)
165g plain flour
30g ground almond
3g baking powder
1) Cream the unsalted butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the egg and continue mixing on medium speed until smooth, scraping the bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure everything is well-mixed.
2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, ground almond, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Then, with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
3) Line your work top with parchment paper and pour the dough onto it. Knead lightly by hand just so it holds together. Shape it into a flattened disk, wrapped tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4) Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and roll the dough into thickness of 6mm between 2 pieces of parchment paper.
5) Line your tart rings, using a paring knife to trim the excess dough. Then return to the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes or put it into the freezer.
6) Pre-heat the oven to 175C fan, then blind bake the tart crust for 20 minutes. Remove the covers and bake for a further 5 minutes or until crust is evenly browned.
For the pistachio crème pâtissière
250ml whole milk
2 large egg yolks
40g granulated sugar
80g pistachio paste
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
2) In a bowl, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk until well-mixed.
3) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
4) Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil.
5) Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). The mixture should have thicken, Do not overcook.
6) Remove cream mixture from heat and pour it onto pistachio paste in a large bowl. Allow it to sit for a minute, then, slowly fold the mixture and ensure pistachio paste is mixed thoroughly.
7) Add butter to the cream and stir to melt.
8) Split cream into 2 portions and leave one portion to chill in the refrigerator.
For the pistachio créme légère
Half portion of the pistachio créme pâtissière above
2 gelatine sheets
125ml heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1) Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water, then, squeeze the water from the sheets before adding to the pastry cream. It should melt easily into the warm cream.
2) Allow the cream to cool to room temperature, then, carefully fold in the whipped cream, try not to deflate the air in the cream.
For the salted pistachio buttercream
25g egg whites
25g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30g whole pistachios
1/8 tsp fine salt
5g pistachio paste
1) Heat the egg whites and caster sugar over a bain-marie, whisking continually until sugar has fully dissolved.
2) Transfer sugar and egg white mixture to a mixer and whisk on high speed for about 10 minutes, until mixture is cool to touch.
3) Add unsalted butter and continue whisking. The buttercream will curdle, but will become smooth as whisking continues.
4) Meanwhile, lightly toast the pistachios in a pan until fragrant.
5) Transfer the nuts and the salt to a grinder and grind to the desired granularity.
6) Add the ground nuts and pistachio paste to the buttercream and fold to incorporate.
1) Pour a generous portion of créme légère into each baked and cooled tart crust. I used about 28g for each tart.
2) Fill the chilled portion of créme pâtissière into a pastry bag and piped in a spiral on top of the layer of créme légère, starting from the outside into the middle.
3) Fill the salted pistachio buttercream into a pastry bag and piped little balls of buttercream around the edge of the tart.
4) Roughly chopped a few pistachios and sprinkle around the edge of the tart.
Verdict: I loved it. More than the one I bought. The tart crust is absolutely scrumptious. It could have been thinner. Maybe with more practice it will be. Although, I should probably have trusted Ansel, and not add any baking powder. I think it would have been nice and crisp without, and I wouldn’t have problem with the puffing up of the crust when baked. I absolutely loved the filling. It is not sweet and the addition of salt really help bring out the fragrant of the pistachios. This is definitely going into my repertoire.