One of the many things I want to do this year is bake a bit more with fruit and ingredients that I haven’t used much before, if at all. I find I use chocolate a lot in recipes as it is so versatile and it tastes amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I adore chocolate, but there’ll be plenty of time to experiment with it further at Easter.
I know we’ve only just begun 2015, but so far this year I’ve used raspberries, strawberries and now blackberries. I’ve never really baked with blackberries before. I remember them from my childhood, we used to pick them at the side of the road and my mum would cook them with apples in a crumble.
I had no idea what fruit to use for these tartlets, but after seeing blackberries on a multi-buy deal at the supermarket, the decision was made for me. Blackberries are such pretty looking fruit and it’s normally raspberries you see in fruit tarts, so I thought these would make a nice change.
I knew that I was going to fill these tartlets with creme diplomat. This is a creme patissiere that is lightened with double cream, it makes the filling light and much more delicate. So I wanted another layer of flavour for the pastry in the tart.
I didn’t want to make chocolate pastry, as I thought a light coloured pastry case would compliment the dark colour of the blackberries, so I chose a cinnamon shortcrust pastry. I believed cinnamon would work well, as it’s something that is often paired with apples and blackberries. I’ve also made this pastry before on the blog and it tasted lovely, but I never posted the recipe.
To decorate these tartlets, I wanted to practice my sugar spirals instead of dusting them with icing sugar or gold leaf. To make the sugar spirals you need to heat sugar to caramel stage and have a bowl of cold water on standby. When the caramel has reached the right colour, put the bottom of the pan in the cold water to stop it cooking further.
Then using a teaspoon and a steel, take spoonfuls of the caramel and let it drop from the spoon in a thin stream. You need to watch the caramel, as it begins to cool it will fall more slowly from the spoon. As this happens you can begin to wind the caramel around the steel and form your spiral.
These are very delicate, so when they’re made you need to lay them on greaseproof paper. Keep making the spirals and if the caramel starts to set, just warm it again to soften it and then dunk the base of the pan in the water to stop it cooking.
These spirals don’t like moisture, so store them in an airtight container until you intend to serve the tartlets. If you put them on the tartlets and store them in the fridge, you wont have any spirals left, as they will dissolve.
The cooked tartlets are filled with the creme diplomat and topped with the blackberries. To give the blackberries even more shine, I heated some seedless raspberry jam until it became liquid and then dusted the blackberries with the jam. I used raspberry jam because I had some in the fridge already opened, but apricot or any other will work, as long as it’s seedless.
Top the tartlets with the sugar spirals and serve. If you want to make these tartlets yourself, here’s the recipe:
- ***Cinnamon Pastry***
- 120g Unsalted Butter (softened)
- 80g Icing Sugar
- 30g Ground Almonds
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Egg
- 200g Plain Flour
- 1tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ***Vanilla Creme Diplomat***
- 250ml Milk
- ½ Vanilla Pod or 1tsp Vanilla Extract
- 60g Egg Yolks (about 3 eggs)
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 25g Plain Flour
- 2g Leaf Gelatine
- 150ml Double Cream
- ***To Decorate***
- 400g Blackberries
- 100g Jam (Seedless Raspberry, Blackberry, Apricot etc)
- To make the cinnamon pastry, put the softened butter in a bowl, sift in the icing sugar and then add the ground almonds. Beat the mixture together until it becomes creamy.
- Add the egg and beat the mixture until the egg is incorporated, sift in the flour, cinnamon and pinch of salt and stir until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
- Shape the dough into a rectangle, wrap it in cling-film and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The pastry can be made a day or two in advance and just stored in the fridge.
- Next make the creme diplomat, place the 2g of leaf gelatine in a bowl of cold water and allow it to soak.
- Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, place it in a saucepan with the milk, or add the vanilla extract to the milk.
- Bring to a boil in a saucepan over a medium heat, then remove from the heat and let infuse for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine the sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add the egg yolks and whisk just until the sugar and flour is combined, do not let it get too pale.
- Whisk a third of the milk into the egg mixture to loosen it. Whisk in the remaining milk and return the mixture to the saucepan, straining it through a fine sieve. Cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
- As soon as the pastry cream begins to thicken, lower the heat and cook out the flour for a couple of minutes, stirring continuously. Then squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine and add it to the creme patissiere you have just made, stir it until dissolved.
- Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl and cover with a layer of clingfilm, pressing it down so it touches the surface of the cream. This will stop a skin forming. Allow to chill completely.
- When the creme patissiere is cool, whip the double cream until it's semi-whipped.
- Give the creme patissiere a stiff stir and then fold in the semi-whipped cream until fully combined. Place the creme diplomat in the fridge for at least 30 mins before using.
- Grease the 12 tartlet tins with a little butter and place them on a baking tray(s).
- Next roll out the pastry on a floured surface until around 3mm thick, using a pastry cutter, cut out 12 rounds to fill tartlet tins that are 7.5cm in diameter, pressing the pastry into the sides of the cases. Use a rolling pin to trim the excess pastry, by rolling it over the top of the case. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork a few times, repeat for the other 11 tartlets and then place the cases back in the fridge for 20mins to firm up before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 160C FAN, or 180C and cook the tartlets for 15minutes. The tartlets will shrink a little at the edges, but they do not need to be weighed down with baking beans etc, the holes in the base stop the pastry from puffing up.
- Allow the cooked tartlets to cool on a rack before filling them to the edge with creme diplomat. Decorate the tartlets however you like with the blackberries.
- Heat the jam with a tablespoon of a water in a saucepan and when it's turned to a syrup, use a pastry brush to coat the blackberries with jam to give them a glossy shine. Don't load the pastry brush with jam, just dab a little on at a time.
Are they any ingredients you would like to see me bake with? I have matcha, tonka beans and yuzu on my list so far, is there anything you’d like to see added?
Thanks for reading.