Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A is for: Apricot & Basil Tart {guest post}

My loyal blog readers...you are in for a treat this week. I know I often deprive you of desserts, so this week, I'm treating you to TWO things to satisfy your sweet tooth. In addition to the Easter-themed amaretto cream chocolate strawberries, I present this lovely Apricot & Basil Tart, courtesy of Jullie Anne Caparas (who you might remember from the Yellowfin Tacos). Thanks Jullie Anne...these look amazing!
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Hi everyone! I just thought I’d share this unique recipe I came across recently. It was just a regular night in the middle of the week…but I was seriously craving dessert. Ordinary cake or brownies wouldn’t do, I wanted something different. Ultimately, I made this interesting tart after a suggestion from my sister (my usual taste-tester when I try new recipes and a lover of apricots). It also caught my attention because I absolutely LOVE using basil in desserts. Its floral notes and mint-like quality go great with sweets. So, here’s to all of you that are hoping to maybe fancy up your mid-week meals or just want a funky dessert to try: Apricot Basil Tart!



Combine ¾ cup of the milk and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Before adding the basil to the milk, I like to roll and squish the leaves between my palms. Bruising the leaves helps to release more flavor into the milk. Once it all simmers, turn off the burner and let the basil steep for 15 minutes. While that’s going, whisk together the remaining milk, the egg yolks, and cornstarch in a separate bowl. Remove the basil leaves from the pan once the 15 minutes are up and squeeze the excess milk back into the pan. 


Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the warm milk, and then bring it all to a simmer over a medium flame. While the mixture heats, make sure to whisk continuously. Do this for about 2 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream starts to come together (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon), take it off the heat and whisk in the butter. DO NOT overcook the pastry cream. It can be an easy mistake to make because it still looks smooth while you’re whisking, but it’ll become thick and rubbery as it cools. Cover with plastic wrap (directly on the surface of the pastry cream) and cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.


Next, prepare the shortbread crust. This recipe is very interesting. It uses a hard-boiled egg yolk and potato starch, but the final product reminds me of a Christmas sugar cookie! It’s delicious! As for the potato starch, I found it in the Organic/Natural Foods section of my grocery store, but baking aisles also carry “Potato Starch Flour." However, “Potato Flour” is NOT the same thing, so don’t buy that. First, preheat your oven to 375F. Then, in a separate mixing bowl, beat the hard-boiled egg yolk, butter, and confectioner’s sugar at medium speed for about 2 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Next, add the flour, potato starch, and salt. Mix at a low speed JUST until combined.

The original instructions specifically called for a rectangular tart pan, but I used a smaller round pan and a muffin tin because I also wanted to make mini tarts. To do this, just split the dough in half, spread one half evenly throughout an 8-inch tart pan, and divide the remaining dough into the muffin tin (about 6-7 mini tart shells). 

Chill the prepared pans for at least 30 minutes. Afterwards, bake the shortbread until golden brown for approximately 20-25 minutes. Then, place the pans on a cooling rack. You want the tart shells to be completely cooled before filling them.

The final component of this tart is the roasted apricot. If you can't find fresh apricots, canned halves will do just fine. Buy them canned in JUICE or LIGHT syrup, but don't confuse them with canned PIE filling. Also, make sure to drain them very well, and maybe even pat them dry with a paper towel. I chose to forgo the sprinkling of sugar in the original recipe because my mom (another one of my usual taste-testers) is diabetic and I didn't want to make the fruit way too sweet. 



I just placed the apricots on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brushed them with 1/2 of the specified jam, then roasted for 15 minutes in a 450F oven. They still turned out yummy, but not cloyingly sweet! (If you do use canned apricots, decrease the cooking time by half. The already tender peels/smaller size may cause them to burn on the baking sheet.) Once they're out of the oven, brush the apricots with the remaining jam. You want these to cool completely before using too.


This next part is my own addition to the dish. Personally, I wanted a topping to go with the tart, something to offset the sweetness of the pastry cream and the glazed fruit. I happened to spot this Australian cream cheese while I was grocery shopping (Apricots, Almonds, Australia...perfect for "A" week, right?!) and decided to run with that. I paired it with mascarpone cheese to accent the almonds. I also folded in some whipped cream to lighten the whole thing and achieve the "fluffy" topping that I wanted. If you can't find Moondarra Cheese, simply double the amount of mascarpone as a substitute. (A quick side note: this mascarpone cream would be AMAZING as a cake frosting/filling!)


Now, you're ready to put your tarts together. Remove the shortbread crusts from their pans. Reserve some pastry cream for the minis, then use an offset spatula to evenly spread the basil pastry cream throughout the round tart shell. Distribute the roasted apricot halves on top of the pastry cream (again, reserve some for the minis!)



For the round tart, slice and serve individual portions with a dollop of the mascarpone cream. To assemble the mini tarts, use an ice cream scoop to pour the reserved pastry cream into each shortbread cup. Top the cream with a single apricot. Then, use a star tip & decorating bag (or a ziplock bag with a corner snipped off) and pipe mascarpone on top of the apricot. Garnish with basil.
Apricot & Basil Tart

by Jullie Anne Caparas
Keywords: dessert vegetarian apricot basil marscapone cheese tart

Ingredients
    For the Basil Pastry Cream:
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 5 tablespoons white granulated sugar
    • ¼ cup (packed) fresh basil (leaves AND stems)
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    For the Shortbread Crust:
    • 1 large hard-boiled egg yolk
    • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ¼ potato starch
    • 1 ¼ tsp Kosher salt
    For the Apricot Topping:
    • 6 fresh apricots, halved
    • 3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup apricot jam, melted
    For the Mascarpone Topping:
    • 1 4.2-oz. package Moondarra Apricot-Almond Cream Cheese, room temperature
    • ½ cup Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
    • 5 ounces heavy whipping cream
    • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
    Instructions
    For Basil Pastry Cream:
    1. In a saucepan, combine 3/4 cup of the milk with the sugar and basil; bring to a simmer. Remove the milk from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove the basil and squeeze any milk back into the pan; discard the basil.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of milk with the yolks and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly whisk the egg yolk mixture into the warm milk; bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking constantly until very thick, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until melted. Scrape the cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.

    For Shortbread Crust:
    1. Spray a 14-by-4 1/2-inch rectangular tart pan (or round tart pan) with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the hard-boiled egg yolk with the butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, potato starch and salt and beat at low speed until just combined. Using lightly floured hands, press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the side of the tart pan. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes, or until chilled.
    2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the crust for about 25 minutes, until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack and let stand until cooled, about 1 hour.

    For Apricot Topping:
    1. Increase the oven temperature to 450°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the apricot halves cut side up on the paper and sprinkle all over with the sugar. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the apricots are tender and lightly browned. Let the apricots stand until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.

    For Marscapone Cream:
    1. In a mixing bowl, combine Cream Cheese and Mascarpone Cheese. Cream together until well combined. Add Confectioner’s Sugar, and cream until thick and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk Heavy Whipping Cream until medium peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture, and then beat until well combined (about another minute).

    To assemble the tart:
    1. Unmold the crust and transfer it to a serving plate. Using a small offset spatula, spread the cream evenly in the crust. Arrange the apricots on the cream, cut sides down, and brush with the melted jam. Cut the tart crosswise into strips or wedges and serve at once with a dollop of Marscarpone cream.
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    1 comment:

    I would LOVE to hear what you think. I read every comment and get a little giddy when I see someone has left one on the blog. Thanks for stopping by!