If you have visited French pâtisseries in Paris, you know that one of the confections that always looks so beautiful are the tarts. Making one as pretty and delicious as they are in France is easier than you might imagine and each step can be done ahead of time. This tart is inspired by one of my favourite pâtisseries in Paris, Gérard Mulot in the 7th arrondissement. The pastry is similar to a rich shortbread crust and there’s just a hint of mint and lemon in the custard. It is glazed with chocolate, which stops the custard from running and making the tart soggy. You can glaze it up to an hour before serving but don’t refrigerate it afterward or the glaze may run.
This dish is a good one to assemble with children: They can butter the bread and make the custard. The whole dish can be put together the night before and baked when needed. The rhubarb jam isn’t a real jam – it does not have enough sugar in it to jell, but will keep in the fridge for two weeks. Serve with fresh orange juice and sticky bacon, if desired. A granola parfait would be a good first course if you wanted to have something extra.
This is the perfect cake to serve with tea or as a luscious dessert. The syrup, if you do not reduce it, is ideal for cocktails or rhubarb sodas. Reduced, it can be tossed with strawberries or other fruits or served as a sauce over ice cream. The amount of time it takes to reduce depends on the wideness of the pot and the amount of heat you use. You’ll need about 1 lb (500 g) rhubarb for this recipe.
Double-smoked bacon adds a special twist to this recipe, but good-quality ordinary bacon works just as well. Serve the tart as a first course with a scattering of arugula. If wild leeks aren't available, the white and light green parts of conventional ones, thinly sliced, can also be used.
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter cut in cubes
¼ cup cold water
1½ teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup (5 ounces) double-smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups coarsely chopped wild leeks
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup whipping cream
¼ cup milk
1 large egg
1¼ cups grated white cheddar cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Place flour and salt in a food processor. Scatter over butter and process with on-off motion until mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs. Remove from processor and place in a bowl. Combine water and vinegar and add just enough liquid to bring dough together. Knead gently until dough forms a ball. Wrap pastry in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch tart pan. Cut off any overhang. Place in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes or until very firm.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place tart pan on a baking sheet. Line pastry with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pastry is set. Remove weights, prick base of tart with a fork and bake 5 minutes longer or until pastry is dry to the touch. Set aside to cool. Turn oven temperature down to 350 F.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat to make the filling. Add bacon and sauté for 2 minutes or until fat is rendered. Pour off fat. Add leeks and continue to sauté until leeks are softened (about 3 to 4 minutes). Pour in white wine, bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes or until fully evaporated. Set aside to cool.
Combine cream, milk and egg in a large bowl and beat until uniform. Stir in cheese and leek mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Fill tart shell. Bake tart in the lower third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until filling is slightly puffed and golden. Serves 4 with leftovers.
This classic pie is always a favourite with the family. If you’re using regular blueberries you will need 2 extra tablespoons of flour. Freeze the pie unbaked if you wish and bake from the frozen stage for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Organic vegetable shortening is available at health food stores and some supermarkets. If you cannot find it then use all butter or regular shortening. The organic shortening makes a wonderfully flaky crust.
Prep time: 20 minutes (pastry prep time is an additional 10 minutes)
Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes (pastry is ready 55 minutes after chilling)
Serves: 4 with wonderful leftovers. (The pastry recipe makes enough for 2 9-inch single crust pies, or one 9- or 10-inch double crust or one single crust with a lattice topping.)
All-purpose flaky pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in 12 pieces
1/4 cup cold organic vegetable shortening, cut in 4 pieces
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
6 cups wild blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling on pastry
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or fingers, cut in butter and vegetable shortening until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle over water and vinegar, a little at a time, tossing together with a fork until the pastry is moist enough to hold its shape when a little piece is pressed between the fingers.
Gather pastry into a ball. It should not feel sticky; divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each slightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or overnight.
Flour a board and a rolling pin. Roll out each portion as needed.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Roll out larger piece of pastry and line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
Combine egg yolk and milk in a bowl. Reserve. Mix together berries, sugar, flour and lemon zest in a bowl.
Brush egg-milk glaze over pastry base to prevent leakage. Fill pastry case with berries. Dot with butter.
Roll out second half of the pastry into a 11-inch round and place on top of the pie. Crimp edges together decoratively or just seal together.
Brush pastry with remaining glaze and sprinkle a little sugar all over.
Place pie on middle shelf with a baking sheet underneath to catch any spill over and bake for 15 minutes.
Turn temperature down to 375 F (190 C) and cook for a further 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is cooked and the berries are bubbling. Cool on wire rack.
If you're short on time, you can also fill these pies with whipped cream or traditional marshmallow fluff. The discs can be large or small.
3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cup full-fat mayonnaise
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup salted caramel (recipe below)
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine white sugar, brown sugar and mayonnaise in a stand mixer and blend until smooth (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add a quarter of flour mixture, blend in and add a third of chocolate mixture. Continue alternating, blending well after each addition. Chill for 1 hour or until mixture has firmed up slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of batter onto a parchment-lined (or greased and floured) baking pan about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
Combine butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend until smooth. Slowly add salted caramel and mix until well blended. Chill until ready to use. If it hardens too much to spread, let it warm up slowly at room temperature.
Spread one chocolate disc with caramel filling and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Top with another chocolate disc to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining chocolate discs and filling. Chill for 30 minutes to set. Makes about 30.
Always the finest way to serve chocolate, this is often called chocolate volcano because of its rich, solid exterior and oozing saucy interior. Serve with whipped cream. The mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking to allow it to come to room temperature. Make sure the muffin tins are well greased for easy removal of the cakes. This makes more than 2 cakes, so if you can restrain yourself from eating them all, they make a decadent breakfast.
225 grams (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Butter 5 deep, non-stick large muffin cups and set aside.
Melt chocolate and butter together in a heavy pot over low heat. Cool slightly.
Beat together sugar and egg yolks with an electric mixer until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Pour in chocolate-butter mixture and beat together for 5 minutes or until chocolate lightens in colour and thickens.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold into egg yolk mixture along with flour.
Divide batter between muffin cups. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are just cooked and centre is still liquid.
Cool for 5 minutes in tins. Carefully remove to serving dishes. Serve with lightly whipped cream. Serves 2 with leftovers.