Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple sublime Maple Syrup Tarts

What a little beauty this is - simple, elegant, unassuming in the looks department but packing a complex wallop with it's flavour - another one of those wonderful recipes that belies the simplicity of it's ingredients and method. These Maple Syrup Tarts are marvellous! They are like a cross between an English custard tart and a pecan pie minus the nuts. They are creamy, buttery, custardy, chewy and sweet without being cloying. If you like Maple Syrup make them as soon as you can. I found this recipe at
Kitchen Vignettes by Aubergine 
and decided to try a half recipe because I don't have much syrup and felt, and rightly so hooray!, that this might work well as mini pies.

Once again this year I have made my own maple syrup with sap from my one big old maple tree - it has been a strange sap season thusfar - it started really late because of the never ending cold and there's only been one day so far with it really flowing, the last 2 days it hasn't flowed at all even though it seemed like the conditions were right - above freezing and sunny but narry a drop has dripped so perhaps my syrup making days are already over for this year.
Sap freezing on the way to the pail. 

So - to the recipe: Enough for 10 small delights

PASTRY: Please do weigh your ingredients if you can - the result will be much more reliable!
Start with everything cold, cold, cold - I even put my flour and sugar in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before I start making the pastry!

5ozs/ 1 1/4 cups of white flour 

4ozs salted butter - hardened in the freezer  

2oz/heaped 1/4 cup of sugar 

about 2 to 4 fluid ounces/1/8 to 1/4 COLD water - the amount will vary depending on the weather and your flour 

METHOD: This is by hand and not in a cuisinart but if you want to use a machine adaption should be easy - you just swish a couple of times for each step until the dough comes together in a ball. 

1. Sift the flour and add the sugar and blend.

 2. Grate the hardened butter into the flour:
3. Gently work butter into flour until it resembles coarse meal or swish in a food processor to achieve the same.
4. Add some of the water and start squushing the pastry and keep adding bit by bit of water until it can be formed into a non-sticky ball - less water is better so squush hard until it comes together: 

5. Put into the fridge to rest for at least one hour - or as long as you like. 

6. Remove your dough from the fridge and allow it to warm slightly for a few minutes then roll out to about a 10" circle, cut as many circles as you can and then reroll the rest to end up with 10 circles - I am making these tarts in small muffin tins and used a 4" diameter glass to make my pastry circles to fit into the tins as seen below - note the pastry does not go all the way up the sides of the tin.
7. Now pop the pastry back in the fridge while you make the heaven that is the filling. By the way - I only have one muffin tin with six holes so I made mine in 2 batches of 6 and then 4. 

Have your oven at 325F
MAPLE SYRUP FILLING:
Enough for ten mini tarts but double this if you want to make a single 9" tart

2oz/ 1/4 cup of salted butter

4 fluid ounces/ 1/4 cup half and half/light cream

1/2 tablespoon white flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 large egg whisked

6 fluid ounces/ 3/4 cup maple syrup

1. Gently boil the maple syrup for a few minutes to thicken.

2. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter until it is melted. 

3. Mix in the cream.

4. Put the flour into the measuring jug you had the maple syrup in, and add some of the maple butter mix and whisk until smooth:
5. Then add the egg and whisk some more, then add the rest of the maple butter mix and the salt and whisk until smooth.
6. Take the pastry cases out of the fridge and pour the filling into the pastry cases all the way to the top.
 7. Bob into the pre heated oven and bake for about 35 minutes turning the tin around half way through to get an even bake.

8. Your tarts should look like this and if you jiggle them a little the centres should still have a bit of a wobble.
 9. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before running a palette knife around the edge of each tart to make sure they aren't stuck, then allow to cool completely in the tins.
As usual get the kettle on, kick your shoes off, put your feet up and enjoy a few of your new favourite recipe tarts!
Chewy top, creamy centre, slight weep as in most custardy tarts but a nice weep, yummy pastry - an all around delight!
I do hope I get some more maple sap so I can enjoy these again with my own syrup.
BTW if you like my Blue Rhapsody napkins as pictured in the background of these pics you can find them HERE!

Finally, finally, finally the seemingly never ending winter is over (better keep my fingers crossed there just in case) and nearly all the snow has gone - although you can see some in the background of this pic of my favourite ancient apple tree bare as can be
and the daffs are starting to show through the leaf mulch in the woods beside the house - I cannot wait for the first balmy day and the first blooming flower, this spring and summer I am going to absolutely, undeniably, cross my heart enjoy every single second of every day!
Happy Baking - please be in touch if you make these tarts and feel free to post your pics of such on my 
Facebook page - thanks!!!
Patricia
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My next post will be about my latest design
"Gilding the Lily"
Stay tuned!

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