Pear Chiboust Tart

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.

 

 

Lime Meringue Tart

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.

2 eggs
56g lime juice
zest of 1 lime
72g sugar
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) 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.

 

Sugar Apricot and Rosemary Tarte Tatin

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!

 

Pistachio & Strawberry Tarts

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.

Apricot-Rosemary Jam Tart with Goat’s Cheese

This tart is quite possibly the best thing I’ve made all year, I couldn’t stop eating it! It has a bold, sweet-savoury flavour which I find super addictive. The whole composition of the tart- the olive oil wholewheat crust, apricot-rosemary jam and goats’ cheese is just so bizzarre and new to me, but so clever! The apricot-rosemary jam is seriously the best jam I’ve ever had- sweet, slightly tart and a touch herbal from the rosemary which helps balance the sweetness. And I’ve never made a crust like this, it’s completely different from the pâte sucrée and pâte brisee we make in school, there’s no butter or egg in it, the entire thing is bound together with olive oil and lemon juice! Totally weird, but so good. It’s crunchy and crumbly, with nubbly bits of oatmeal and oat bran. The recipe is from one of my favourite French blogs, 543 pages avant la fin du monde.