… the rules are simple… take all your dessert, chocolate, cake, sweet or pudding based cook books, place them in a pile and randomly select one book… from this book, flip it open to a random page and bake that exact recipe…
This is the latest challenge from Dom’s The Belleau Kitchen. Some of you might remember mentioning Dom in another post. The book that chose me was Leith’s Cookery Bible, a book I acquired over a decade ago and have hardly ever referred to. It’s practically pristine in condition.
The page open on Pâte Sablée, French sweet pastry. That’s it. It is actually a challenge as I’ve never made this pastry and upon perusal of this book, I was wondering why I didn’t refer to it more often as it is a wealth of culinary information. I realised that I would have to make some filling for the tartlet cases I decided to make with this pastry and it being literally a day or so after our party, I literally had nothing much left in the house. In the end, I did find 4 limes and a measuring cup with solidified (previously) melted 70% chocolate in it. It was one of those ‘Oh, so that’s where it went’ moments.
The pastry was actually easily enough to make. I used my Kenwood tabletop mixer set to pulse. Due to its high butter content, you really need to chill this pastry before using it. I chilled it for about 20-30 minutes. You don’t want to chill it for too long as it will turn hard and almost impossible to roll.
Lime Meringue Tartlets
Now, had I not given some pastry dough to the Small Shouty One for her to make grape jelly tarts, I reckon I would have has enough for 12 tartlets. I absolutely abhor rolling out pastry. I really do so I devised this method of dividing the dough into 10 equal portions and rolling them out individually to line my 10 tartlet tins. That way, I was ensuring that I wasn’t over-rolling the dough, risking it being tough.
The dough really does melt to the touch quite spectacularly so do avoid handling it too much. Roll each dough portion to around 2mm and line the tins. Gently press down into the edges and grooves. Prick the dough with a fork. Take a square of thin aluminium foil and press down into the tin, lipping it over the edge so to protect the dough when baking.
Chill in the fridge for about 1/2hr to an hour. Once chilled, blind bake them in a preheated oven set to 180C for 20-25 mins. After that, peel off the foil and bake for a further 5-10mins. The times do vary on the thickness of your pastry but do ensure the tartlet cases are crisply baked throughout but allowing for the fact they will continue to cook even after you take them out of the oven.
285g plain flour
A pinch of salt
225g butter, softened
2 egg yolks
110g icing sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
-You can do this by hand by sifting the flour and salt onto a clean surface. Make a well in the centre for the softened butter. Dump the yolks & sugar on top of the butter, along with the vanilla.
-Using the tips of your fingers (one hand), just peck together the butter, yolks and sugar. Once it’s a soft paste, incorporate the flour and lightly knead until smooth.
As I said above, I just pulsed it all together in my Kenwood mixer.
I adapted a lemon curd recipe from the same book to make a lime curd. The recipe is as below.
4 organic limes
225g sugar (I found this too sweet – I reckon you can reduce it to 215g) 3 eggs ( I had 5 egg yolks leftover so I used this instead)
-Grate the zest of limes, squeeze the juice. Add this into a pan with butter, sugar and eggs. Heat gently and stir all the time until mixture becomes thick like paste. Strain into a clean bowl. Cover with cling film.
There are 2 ways you can do the meringue top. If you want it soft with a little chewiness to it, follow the first recipe. I reduced the sugar considerably as I found the lime curd quite sweet.
Meringue Top version 1
2 egg whites
80g caster sugar
In a double boiler, heat the egg whites and sugar together to 140F (NOT Celsius). Take it off the heat and whisk in your tabletop mixer until the bowl and mixture is cold.
This mixture us enough for 6 tartlets. Double the recipe if you want to make 12.
Bake at 160C for 20-25 minutes.
Meringue Top version 2
This recipe will produce a sweeter but crisper meringue top.
2 egg whites
110g caster sugar
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar until well mixed and glossy and stiff.
As above, this mixture is enough for 6 tartlets.
Bake at 150C for 35-40 minutes until the peaks are crisp and coloured slightly.
Chocolate Almond Tartlets
I used up some leftover chocolate I had in the fridge. I took 100g 70% chocolate and added to it 200ml double cream which has been heated up. Allow the chocolate to melt in the cream and stir well. Fill 6 tarts equally with this mixture.
I then took 59g of flaked almonds, placed them in a lined baking tray and sifted some icing sugar on them. Bake in the oven at 150C for about 10 minutes until it is slightly coloured.
Distribute the almond flakes between the 6 tartlets.
Chill the tartlets in the fridge.
The pastry cases were divine. They were crisp, crumbly, buttery without being greasy. They kept their crispness well over a couple of days (we ate them all by then).
The lime meringue tartlets really did well with the beautifully scented lime curd and I personally think the chewy meringue top suited the tartlet better and the crisp tartlet case provided the crunch needed.
The sweetness of the tartlet case compensated for the almost bitter chocolate filling and the sweetened flaked almond added an interesting texture and flavour to the tartlet.
This will definitely be the go-to pastry dough for me from now on.