Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pecan & Dried Fruits Tartlets

In less than 3 weeks time I will be flying off back to Malaysia and I am excited and stressed at the same time. I don't remember flying was so dreadful when I was younger but now, I simply feel claustrophobic even before I board the plane. I just hope my 2 kids behave and co-operate with me and each other during the whole period of 16 hours coop up in a small space with other strangers and the minutes and hours just tick tock away as I blink my eyes and they sleep at their normal bed time! I am just thankful that I don't have to carry a loadful of diapers and milk bottles anymore this time round.

I love the season of Thanksgiving and X'mas in New England. As I browse through catalogs of boxed and food gifts and the home stores with multiple choices of festive goodies that simply gets my cooking and baking spirit soaring, I feel sad that I will miss out on buying and giving out homemade cookies and baked goods as I did last year. I haven't been back to Malaysia for 2 years and everytime I go back, I cannot recognize much anymore of the hometown that I grew up in due to the rampant expansion of roads, malls and buildings mushrooming everywhere and everyone else is always in a rush to somewhere between places and friendly faces are getting less and less in a once very laid back and easy place.

To get my festive mood going, I made something which is more representable of the season's palate. Tartlets with a hint of nutmeg filled with the wonderful Pecan, dried figs and cranberry, drenched and baked in maple syrup. It took me a while to start serious baking again and I was unable to give up the summer flavors of fresh berries and mousse type cakes and without them, I was so lost for ideas! Actually, I intended to bring the packs of pecan and dried figs for my relatives back in Malaysia but funny, they looked so tempting and hence that was how these tartlets came to be!

Pecan is a very rich tasting nut and quite similar to walnut in chunkiness. Besides fresh fruits, I love nuts too and none but all types are my favorite! The maple syrup binds all the nuts and fruits together and gives out a slight burnt aroma which is nutty and sweet to the palate. Nothing is light about the ingredients but that is the taste of the end of the year holiday season, rich, thick and fulfilling. Maybe they don't look so colorful as my other summer cakes and tarts, tastewise they are better during these cold months!


Tart Shells :
1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
4 oz (1 stick) cold and malleable butter
1 egg

1)Sift the flour, almond meal, confectioner sugar and nutmeg powder into a large bowl.
2)Cut the butter into smaller pieces and drop them into the flour mixture or use a food processor. Coat the flour with the butter pieces and crumble till resembles coarse crumbs. Do not over process.
3)Beat the egg lightly and pour into the flour and butter mixture. Process and mix till the mixture comes together as a dough. Remove and flatten to a disk and place in plastic bag and let it rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
4)Grease 5 of 4 inch tartlet pans with butter and leave aside. Prepare parchment paper and baking beans.
5)Preheat oven to 375F. Place rack at bottom of the oven. Roll out the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper to 1/2 inch thick and cut with a large bowl, larger than the whole of the tartlet pans. Transfer the cut out dough to the pans and tuck in the sides first with your fingers to fit. Trim edges. Continue with the rest of the dough and pans.
6)Place parchment paper and baking beans onto the dough in the pans. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, remove paper and baking beans and continue to bake for another 10 mins. Once done, remove the tart shells from the oven and lower the oven to 350F.

Filling :
1 cup Pecan halves, toasted for 7 mins
1/4 cup dried cranberry
1/4 cup dried figs (about 6 figs, each quartered)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup maple syrup

1)Mix the nuts and dried fruits together in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and flour and stir to mix.
2)Mix in the melted butter and beaten eggs and stir to mix and stir to distribute out the nuts and fruits.
3)Lastly pour in the maple syrup and coat the filling.
4)Using a spoon, divide and distribute the filling between each tart shell, making sure that each has all the ingredients. Spoon the liquid from the maple syrup into the tart shells too. Fill to the top.
5)At a 350F oven, bake the tartlets for 40 mins, rotating the pan the last 15 mins to get an even baking. Remove, and let them cool on the rack.
6)Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.

Makes: 5 tartlets (measuring 4 inch each) or a 10 inch tart for 6 servings

1 comment:

Mritunjay Kumar Singh said...

May I tell you that I am enriched with this wonderful information. Nice info.

Brazil nuts
Dried fruit and nuts
Bulk dried fruit