I am a tart kind of a girl. I really enjoy the whole concept of tarts. Crust, filling and topping it’s like having the best of everything in one dessert. Especially in the summertime, when there are so many types of fruit just begging to be used, there is often nothing easier than whizzing up a tart crust, making a filling and simply topping it all of with the sweetest of fruits.
Having said that, I have to admit that not every tart crust is edible and not every filling makes me jump with delight. How often have I had a tart where the filling was incredibly divine but the crust was either, too soggy, too greasy, too chewy, or if my luck was really running out, all three. Then there were times were, in my opinion, the crust was quite palatable, but the filling had a lot left to desire.
A while back I started experimenting with several types of flavors, ingredients and ideas. In the beginning I had a bit of trouble keeping track of all the ideas and all the possibilities I came up with.
Normally I have my big brainstorms at night. Just before my eyes shut I am hit with a fantastic idea. Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night because I just figured out the solution to an issue I was brooding over for the past few weeks. Tom has gotten used to these outbursts in the middle of the night. Mainly because the ideas were so darned good they normally left him stumped. My problem was trying to remember each detail of my brainstorms the next morning!
A little while back as I was getting into bed,I found a small notepad and a pencil lying on my night-table. I had to smirk – trust Tom to come up with that great idea!
The notepad is almost full now – a few sides are filled with several illegible scribblings for my ideas with this tart. The notepad is simply ingenious as I can see the ideas evolving each morning and am inspired to improve on them during the day.
As I just mentioned a few of the pages contain flavor ideas, ingredient pairings and other options for this tart. It took me a while and a lot of testing till I found what seems to be the perfect tart.
Now, I have not re-invented the wheel here and I am not shouting Eureka! But I am shouting “Bloody delicious!”
For the crust I used simple store-bought caramel biscuits, which were perfect for their lightness and crispness. I experimented with a few types of cookies and self made dough types too. Although I came up with a really great dough recipe, for the flavor combination in this tart the caramel biscuits were really the best. I also tried gingersnap cookies and while they made a lovely alternative, I preferred the delicate caramel flavor, which highlighted the entire tart wonderfully.
Then I tackled the filling. I am not really a buttercream person. As a matter of fact if it is not a Daring Baker’s challenge I hardly ever make buttercream. I also do not like the extremely rich cream or cheesecake taste in my tarts. Maybe that will explain why I do not often indulge in a cheesecake. As I mixed and played around with several different types of cheeses and dairy products I finally came across the perfect combination of rich and tangy, not too sweet but deliciously satisfying. Mascarpone gave it that richness without that cream flavor, quark gave it a lightness and the goat cream cheese made it exquisite.
Once I got the right consistency and taste of the filling, I wanted to tackle the spice. Vanilla somehow did not make it - it gave the filling a sweetness I was not really looking for. I went with cinnamon but it was not very summery. The third time I made the filling my choice fell on cardamom. What a difference a spice can make! This was just perfect. At this stage I was really getting excited. After all I had been playing around with the creation of this tart for 3 weeks and I was getting the feeling Tom and Soeren were beginning to get tired of all the variations.
The fruit of choice was the easiest. Peaches were on my mind since the beginning of this tart. They were so sweet, juicy and ripe that it was a true pleasure simply biting into each fruit. I had to feature them on this tart - pure! No addition of any preserve! All I did was add a sprinkling of my favorite nuts, pistachios and a small handful of chopped mint. Et voila! Was this my perfect tart?
Almost - as I was just about to add the filling onto the crust, I did have one more brainstorm. Unusually for me it was late afternoon - but I believe this final addition really made the cake exclusively decadent!
A sprinkling of fleur de sel.
Printable version of recipe here.
For the crust
230 - 250g plain caramel biscuits, finely ground
50 - 75g butter, melted
For the filling
For the topping
3-4 ripe peaches, pitted and cut into thin slices
Handful of pistachios, chopped
Handful of mint leave, chopped
For the crust
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C. Blend the melted butter and ground caramel cookies in a bowl until the crumbs are evenly coated and moistened. Tip the mixture into a 22 cm diameter tart pan and using your finger press the mixture evenly. Use a small bowl or the measuring cup to really even out all the biscuit crumbs on the base and the sides.
Bake the crust in the oven for approx. 8-10 minutes or until it starts to brown. Take out and allow to cool completely.
For the filling
In a mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients, except the fleur de sel, until smooth. Adjust sweetness according to taste. Finally add the pinch of fleur de sel.
Spread the cream cheese filling in the crust and cool in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes until the filling sets.
Arrange the sliced peaches on top of the filling in concentric circles. Sprinkle with pistachios and mint leaves.
All the effort that went into the creation of the tart was so worth it. There was not one part of the tart that did not taste spectacular. Tom and Soeren are my usual judges and they are quite critical. However, they had only praise for this cake. I took the leftovers to work and my colleagues, who are aware of my food mania, were really blown away.
The best compliment came from the Prof., my boss. I am pretty darned sure he was not expecting this. When I told him I had one slice of tart leftover and his name was written on it he said "I hope it's not one of these American layer cakes!" It made me laugh loud and I said "What do you think?" He followed me into the kitchen and I gave him the slice, which he took into the office. After a few minutes he called out from his office, which is across the corridor, "This is incredible!" "It's just how I like my cake, crispy crust, sweet/savory filling and sweet fruit!" THAT was my ratification that I am not the only one on the look out for the perfect tart.
You might like cakes and tarts from WFLH:
From around the blogs:
- Dhanggit's Kitchen - Nutella Dulche de Leche Tartellette
- Addicted Sweet Tooth - Raspberry Tartelette
- Jenny Bakes - Honey Peach Tart with Fresh Peach Ice Cream
Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:
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