Crème chiboust is crème patissiere lightened with meringue, in this case, italian meringue. It’s light, mousse-like and the least rich of all crèmes. But on the other hand, it’s also one of the sweetest because of the meringue. The chiboust tart is a classic French tart filled with caramelised apples, soft crème chiboust, and a crisp caramelised sugar crust. Calvados gives the apple flavour a boost, but I swapped both the apples and Calvados for pears and Grand Marnier because that’s what I had on hand. Overall a pretty tasty tart, although not one I’d usually choose if I had a choice, haha. I think it’s the burnt sugar and meringue combination, it tastes quite like Baked Alaska which is not my favourite thing. But it’s a fun pastry to make, all the components are easy to make and assemble, and caramelising the sugar is fun/dangerous. It’s usually done with an electric carameliser but it’s not a common piece of equipment to have at home, so I just used a cheap but solid chef’s knife with a wooden handle which I placed directly onto a gas burner to get it red hot (yes, scary!) and then used it to brulée the surface of the chiboust which I had sprinkled with caster sugar. I wouldn’t recommend this technique- it’s pretty (very) dangerous. And sugar catches on fire.. so yea. Lol. Do this at your own risk and open all your windows.
When it comes to desserts, I’ll always go for something super creamy or something super sour. This lime meringue tart is mouth-puckeringly sour and the meringue is soft and sweet. I used pâte brisée for the tart shell because it’s less sweet and more sturdy compared to pâte sucrée. For the final touch, I sprinkled some desiccated coconut on the meringue right before browning it- just for a subtle tropical perfume and a slightly more interesting aesthetic- white on white is always pretty, right? I don’t have a blowtorch yet so I just switched the oven to its “top grill” mode (dunno? it’s the little symbol with the zigzag line) and placed the tarts on the highest shelf closest to the heating element. It browned the meringue very evenly (yay!) and quickly (yay!) so do keep an eye on them and don’t run off to do something else!
The lime curd is super yummy and quick to make, do exactly as you would for lemon curd. I used a recipe from a Japanese/French pastry book but the recipe is pretty standard. I’ve adapted it slightly and included it here; it’s a small amount because I halved it but you can always double it back.
56g lime juice
zest of 1 lime
72g butter, room temperature
Bring a pot of water to boil. Whisk the eggs, lime juice and sugar in a bowl and place it on the pot of boiling water; make sure the bowl is not touching the water. This is called a “bain marie”, ie a double boiler. Keep whisking the egg mixture on the bain marie until it thickens (this will be almost exactly when it hits 80°C, but you don’t need to break out your thermometer for this). Be patient, it will seem very liquid and not at all set but it will jell quite suddenly when it hits the right temperature as the eggs cook and coagulate. When it thickens, remove from the heat immediately and continue whisking to bring down the temperature slightly so it doesn’t continue cooking and scramble (if making a large amount, dunk into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking). Leave to cool until only slightly warm (36°C if you want to get technical about it..) then whisk in the butter in three additions. At this point your curd will be thick, luscious and ready to use. This quantity fills about 6-7 7cm tart shells.
Rosemary and apricot, two things I immediately associate with chicken and jam respectively, are actually very complementary. Rosemary, which has a very distinctive scent and flavour is extremely intense and can easily overpower milder flavours. When paired (with some restraint) with sugar apricots which are sweet-sour, floral and with a similar robust temperament, neither flavours are overwhelmed and, is in fact, a very, very delicious combination.
I paired the two in a classic tarte tatin, one of my favourite desserts to make and eat. It’s very simple and understatedly chic. It’s a rojak recipe with parts from here and there; I made my go-to rough puff pastry which is robust and fail-proof and winged the caramelised fruit part.
Here’s how I did it, it’s not a recipe per se.. just a tarte tatin technique, I guess? I dunno.
Make the rough puff, you’ll only need half the recipe but you can always keep the other half and make eccles cakes! Halve and stone 1 punnet of sugar apricots (approx… 20 fruit?), leave aside in a bowl. You don’t have to peel apricots. Then, make a caramel with 70g of sugar and just enough water to dampen the sugar. When the caramel reaches a dark golden colour, add 45g of butter. The caramel will split but keep stirring on the heat and it’ll eventually recombine. Pour into a 6″ tart tin (not loose-bottomed) and place 1 small sprig of rosemary in the middle of the pan (discretion is necessary when using rosemary!) then arrange the apricots cut side down in concentric circles on the caramel. Roll out the puff pastry to about 3-4mm thickness and cut a circle slightly larger than the tin. Cover the apricots with the pastry and push the sides down with a knife. Bake at 200°C for approx 25 minutes until pastry is golden. Flip onto a plate, be careful of the hot caramel. That’s it!
Eton mess is super delicious and one of the easiest yet impressive-looking desserts to make. It’s a summertime pudding created in Eton College and popular throughout the hot summer months in the UK, where strawberries and cream are plentiful and really, really delicious. All you need to do is mix strawberries, crushed meringues and whipped cream, and there you have it- a delightfully juicy, creamy, chewy and barely-sweet dessert. I’ve added some mascarpone to the whipped cream to give it more body and luscious creaminess and also the seeds from a vanilla bean for a sweet, aromatic vanilla flavour.
Victoria sponge, a very popular tea-time cake in the UK is usually two layers of sponge sandwiching jam and buttercream. I decided to use whipped mascarpone and LOTS of fresh raspberries, blueberries and pomegranate seeds instead of jam and buttercream as I prefer something lighter, juicier and not too sweet. Some toasted flaked almonds were scattered on top for a bit of crunch. A note to myself for the next time I make it would be to up the mascarpone filling- more cream is always welcomed!
Just last week in Biarritz, I had The Tart of My Life. It was simple; just a crumbly sablé crust, pistachio pastry cream and lots and lots of juicy, sweet raspberries- but it was so good!! I immediately set my mind to recreating the tart when I got home but got sidetracked by Michalak’s “Tarte Aux Fraises À La Crème De Pistache” from his book instead. Instead of pastry cream at the base of the tart, it’s filled with a fluffy “biscuit moelleux pistache”, which is basically a moist pistachio biscuit. The biscuit is then brushed with a fresh straberry confit then topped with strawberries, jelly, pistachio crème chantilly and a sprinkling of crushed pistachios. The recipe can be found here but I used his book (which I love!) which has lots of helpful and beautiful photos.
This is the ultimate summer biscuit- buttery biscuit, sweet peaches and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top. The recipe is Joy the Baker’s and it’s genius- there’s buttermilk in it which makes it soft and just a bit tangy and plenty of butter. The dough is very sticky but this makes the scone tender and moist when baked. I imagine it’ll be super good split in half and filled with whipped double cream..
Crisp meringue, cool, creamy mascarpone and tart, buttery roasted apricots = heavenly! And if you haven’t got any apricots just the meringues and mascarpone make a delicious pair as well.
Apricots need a bit of coaxing from heat. They’re pretty insipid and spongy/mushy when raw but roasting, jamming, or stewing concentrates their flavour and makes them very, very apricoty. I really liked the combination of rosemary and apricot so I roasted them with a few sprigs of rosemary and also some honey, sugar, Jurançon (which is SO good) and a few chunks of butter. After 24 minutes of roasting at 180°, the apricots collapse into soft, jammy sacs bursting with flavour and the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. I ate about 4 whole apricots (!) on its own.. they were just too hard to resist. I also made a goats’ cheese bavarois and almond-oat crumble to accompany the apricots but I think I’ll just eat them all on its own in the end..
This victoria sponge recipe is adapted from a Martha Stewart strawberry shortcake recipe, but since I spread some jam between the layers I thought a Victoria Sponge was a more befitting name. It’s no ordinary victoria sponge- instead of light and fluffy sponge or chiffon cakes for the cake layers, this one is a marzipan-cornmeal pound cake. It isn’t very heavy and dense though, it’s still pretty fluffy and the almond flavour is so addictive and pairs very well with the jam. Atop the slick of jam on the cake is a generous layer of mascarpone cream, a cool and neutral flavour to tame down the sweetness of the cake. I topped the cakes with the tiniest and cutest English strawberries- instant kitschy cute. Almost unbearably cute..