Behind the scenes: The making of the Elegant Tart that was Easy

Don’t you just love Bank holiday weekends?  Knowing that you have that extra day to switch off from the daily grind is a good feeling.  You can do whatever you wish without the need to rush in fear that the impending Monday work day is coming far too soon.  Hence why yesterday allowed for an indulgently slow, pottering paced Saturday.

I had been in the kitchen for most of the day cooking and concocting things that either I had saved because they needed much time and patience or were not on of my “urgent” must tries list.   So far I had made My Version of Chicken Dhansak (recipe will be coming soon.  Certainly is a must try, it turned out great!), I finished labeling the Chuunda bottles (sweet & spicy mango chutney/pickle) that I had made the night before- a bit of an experiment- flavour guessing was from memory and my memory did me proud! I also made some sushi rolls by request and was finally, albeit at a  leisurely pace, clearing up while the dinner was simmering away. I went into the garage to put some things away in the freezer and low and behold, whilst trying to rearrange the freezer to make things fit (the woes of culinary experimentation), my box of pastry discs I have made ready for rolling and baking caught my eye.   Seeing that I hadn’t made anything sweet so far and it was an excuse to lighten the freezer load (or so I’d have myself believe) I pulled out a disc of rich, dark, perfectly chocolate pâte sucrée with the intention to make something decidedly chocolate-y.  I don’t make dessert on a daily basis, but I do like to make something on the weekend and I had more than enough time to whip something up while dinner finished off.

I hadn’t decided what the filling was going to be, but as I speedily rolled out the dough after warming the disc in my hands slightly, into the tin it went with some well worn crumpled parchment paper  reserved solely for this purpose and on to that dumped in an obligatory elegant fashion (it is a tart after all) was a jar of baking beans that crashed down onto the crumpled paper with an alien sized hail stone thud before I finally put the tin into the oven to blind bake.  Phew! And breath…..  My habit of run on sentences never ceases to end.  For the record,  I do breath far more regularly when speaking than it may appear from my writing.  During this process of working at the speed of lightening, but still managing to take in sufficient oxygen,  in my head I had planned an almond frangipane filling with a hint of orange zest and warm toasty cinnamon…oh and maybe even some dark melted chocolate drizzled over. Deliciousness was in progress!

Alas, silly me forgot to check my stock levels of ground almonds!  When I did, I then realised I had run out from making scores of macarons  the previous weekend and that I was still awaiting delivery to replenish my larder.  However, this did not mean disaster or disappointment, as I have said before, one of my favourite things to happen is when I get the opportunity to make something up.  I decided I wanted to try and produce a similar texture to frangipane and so I went back in the garage to find something to make this happen.  There stood two  tins of condensed milk that were staring at me, enticing me with their dulce de leche ways, urging to be used and so it was decided that they would definitely  make the cut.  I grabbed the cans and decided I would base my concoction around my favourite Treacle Tart recipe with the addition of  some orange zest because I was entirely in the mood for a chocolate & caramel-ly orange flavoured tart and for good measure,  a dash of warmth from some cinnamon; it’s not like the flavours didn’t complement the dreary drizzly May we’ve been having so far!

The result was a resounding success: deliciously fantastic, super speedy to make & above all, foolproof.

Who knew that wholesome, elegant, easy and  tart were words that could belong together in the same sentence to mean something that is so utterly delicious?! Before you ask….yes, “dramatic” is the flavour of my mood today.

The deep, rich flavour and colour of the chocolate pâte sucrée beautifully complemented the filling, however I think that any good all butter pâte sucrée would work with this.  What I love about this recipe in particular is that the texture, although similar to a frangipane filling, it is slightly drier and chewy due to the condensed milk and  because there is no other sugar other than from the condensed milk for the filling, the tart is not too sweet lending itself to an array of topping options if you so please.  All in all, the lightness and the subtle sweetness of the filling make this tart more versatile in how you can serve it.  I highly recommend you have a go.  You can also try out different flavourings for the filling such as cardamom, lemon, lime, etc  in place of the orange & cinnamon. Try drizzling with some dulce de leche or some melted chocolate  Enjoy experimenting!

My Elegant Easy Tart 

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of condensed milk (approx 800g)
  • 75g  fine porridge oats (chop in food processor if you only have jumbo)
  • 100g- 125g stale white bread crumbs chopped finely (add the extra 25g if you want to achieve a lighter drier texture)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 30g butter
  • zest of 1-2 oranges depending on the size
  • 1  tsp of cinnamon (to taste)
  • Enough  chopped pecans of flaked almond to garnish the top of the tart (about 1/2- 3/4 cup)
  • an 8-10 inch pâte sucrée/sweet short crust pastry tart that has been blind baked.  I used a chocolate pâte sucrée recipe that complemented this well, but a plain, vanilla, lemon or orange zest tart shell would all work too.  My recipes for tarts are for trade quantities and so I need to scale one down to update this post with.  In the meantime, you can use your favourite recipe for pâte sucrée/ sweet short cut pastry.

Method

  1. Once your tart shell is done, pre-heat the oven to 165C.
  2. Empty the cans of condensed milk and the butter in a non-stick pan and heat until melted and incorporated.
  3. Add the bread crumbs and porridge oats, cinnamon & orange zest and stir well.
  4. As soon as the mixture has cooled down slightly add the eggs mixing well to ensure the egg doesn’t curdle.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tart and top with the nuts of your choice.
  6. Cook until golden about 20-25 mins.
  7. Allow to cool slightly before serving.  You can drizzle the tart with some dulce de leche, chocolate or whatever takes your fancy to make a formal dessert as it tastes wonderful warm with some vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream.  When at room temperature, this makes for an excellent addition to an afternoon tea.
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