I was trying to think of special recipe to showcase these marvelous black currants I received in my local box last week, and decided to adapt a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Earth To Table. In the book the chef makes a plum tart, but the idea seemed to fit beautifully with these precious little black currants, so I adapted the recipe for my own liking and it was scrumptious. This recipe does take a bit of work, but it is WORTH it, especially if you are having a dinner party and want a show-stopper dessert.
The recipe is done in four “parts”, the dough, the almond paste, the black currant topping and then the tart assembly. You’ll want to read the whole thing once over to get an idea of what you are doing, but then I would proceed with making the tarts in this order. Enjoy!
Black Currant Tarts
2 ½ soft whole wheat flour (or you can use all purpose)
3 T granulated sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup cold butter (I like to put it in the freezer for ten minutes before using)
2 large organic egg yolks (save the whites for later!)
½ cup ice water
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Take your stick of butter and roll it quickly in the flour mixture (this helps insulate the butter from the heat of your hands and helps to keep it cold). Using a box cheese grater, grate the butter into the flour mixture, and, using a fork, toss the butter thurougly through the crust.
2. In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the ice water. Add this to the flour mixture a few tablespoons at a time, kneading dough until it all comes together.
3. Shape dough into disk, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or make ahead and keep in fridge for up to two weeks)
1/3 cup soft butter (not melted, but soft)
1 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup icing sugar
1. In a medium bowl, mix the butter, almonds, and icing sugar with a fork until smooth and well-blended.
2. Resist the urge to eat this paste as is because it is delicious!!
3. Refrigerate until you assemble the tart.
Black Currant topping
2 cups black currants
2 T butter
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
2 T black currant wine (or any red wine will do, and you can also just use water)
½ T cornstarch
1. In a large saucepan, on medium heat, melt butter and brown sugar for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it smells delicious!
2. Add the black currants, stir gently to coat in the butter and sugar but trying not to break the berries.
3. Cook, stirring, for five minutes.
4. Add the wine, stir well, and cook for another five minutes.
5. Add cornstarch, sprinkling evenly across the mix, stir well, and cook on reduced heat for just a few minutes until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and keep at room temperature until time to assemble the pastries.
Assembling the Tarts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Remove the dough disc from the refrigerator, and, using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the wedge into 8 equal size wedges.
3. Put four of the wedges back in the plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for later use (unless you have a professional oven where you can bake more than one tray at a time!)
4. Grease and flour a baking sheet (or use parchment paper or a silicone mat if you have one) .
5. On a well-floured surface, roll the wedges out into rough circles, between 5-7 inches in diameter. Be sure to use plenty of flour on the rolling pin as well so the dough doesn’t stick.
6. Place the dough circles on prepared backing sheet. Place about 1 ½ T of the almond paste at the center of each of the circles and spread evenly, leaving a two-inch rim all the way around the circle.
7. Using your fingers, fold the edges of the circles up and allow them to fall naturally, forming a lip to the circle (see photo above).
8. Using the egg whites left over from the pie crust, whisk the whites with a tablespoon of water, and brush the lips of the tarts crusts with the egg wash. I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on the crust at this point as well, but it isn’t necessary.
9. Using a fork, pierce the center of each circle once or twice to prevent bubbling during baking.
10. Bake, at the bottom 1/3 of the oven, on 350 for about 20 minutes.
11. At this point, remove the tarts from the oven and spoon a few tablespoons of the black currant topping ontothe center of each, covering up the edge of the lip. Don’t pile them too high or they may cook unevenly, but do be generous- the berries make the tart!
12. Return to the 350 oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the topping is bubbling hot and the crust is nice and browned.
13. Remove the tarts, gently, with a spatula and let them cool on a wire wrack.
14. You may repeat the process again with the rest of the dough or save the ingredients for another day.
These tarts were a big hit at my dinner party and this is my new go-to pastry recipe. To really enjoy this pastry you must eat it with some fresh organic whipped cream on top! Bon Apetit!
-Nicole Marsh-Mueller loves to cook locally and organically for her family and blogs at The Armchair Housewife
photo credit: Nicole Marsh-Mueller