Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Viva la Revolucion! I was once again looking for inspiration on IMBB for things to make to keep myself busy with an adult activity during our enforced confinement this winter and stumbled upon this "Mini Pie Revolution" event. This time the theme was for sweet creations.
Now, I have to admit here, that though I love this event and it was fun to do, I actually like a really good cupcake. Notice, I do qualify that as a really good one. I hope that doesn't get me booted out of the revolution altogether because I also L-O-V-E tarts in any shape or size. The mini tart idea though I am loving, so here is my contribution to the fight.
Though these mini tarts didn't turn out as pretty as I wanted them to I don't mind the more rustic look here, especially since they were so delicious. I thought of the flavor combination because of a local restaurant here that serves frozen custard concoctions called "concrete." It is basically a super thick milkshake made with their frozen custard and whatever flavors you choose to mix in. Probably one of their most popular combinations, and my husband's favorite is the caramel cashew so these tarts were the birthday dessert for our little celebration for him this year (and don't I get extra credit for replacing cake with mini tarts for a birthday!).
So, here you have it. A cashew nut crust with a beautiful creamy caramel custard with a sugary bruleed top. It was like getting that bruleed flavor all the way down to a tender nutty crust. Yum!
Caramel Cashew Creme Brulee Tartletts
Makes 12 mini-tarts (using regular size muffin tin)
For the Crust:
(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Pie & Tart Cookbook Basic Tart Dough Recipe)
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbsp very cold water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground roasted cashews
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk, water, and vanilla. Set aside.
To make the dough in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and ground cashews in the mixer bowl. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and mix just until the dough pulls together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball, and roll into a cylinder 12-inches long. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and place one piece each in the muffin tin. Press into bottom and up sides to create tart shell. Prick dough on bottom and sides a few times with fork.
Partially bake tart shells in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes or until mostly set. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees.
For the Caramel Creme (Custard):
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook)
(Oven should be preheated at 300 degrees with a rack in the center of the oven)
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
4 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp kosher salt
6 tsp sugar for brulee topping
Place 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar has caramelized and is golden brown, about 3 minutes, brushing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent crystallizing. Swirl the pan, dissolving the unmelted sugar; reduce heat to low.
Slowly whisk in the cream and milk. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan, and add the pod. Increase heat to medium high, cover, and bring to a boil; remove the pan from the heat.
In a bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar, the egg yolks, and salt; continue whisking until pale yellow in color. Slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this new mixture through a fine sieve set over a large liquid measuring cup; discard vanilla pod. Use a spoon or small ladle to skim the top of liquid to remove all visible air bubbles.
Pour enough custard liquid into each cooled tart shell almost to the top of the shell but not overflowing. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and place in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes or until set in the center and the custard is not longer liquidy.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack or refrigerate until ready to brulee and serve.
When you are ready to serve place about 1/2 tsp of sugar on the top of each custard tartlett. Use a kitchen torch to brulee and melt the sugar into a crackly crust.