Everywhere I travel inspires new dessert ideas, but I am starting to think that like in music, the same beats keep popping up. I have been blessed this year to have taken back to back European trips, to Paris and Italy, with a little detour to Switzerland and discovered that similar tarts appear everywhere.
I am a huge tart fan. If someone forced me to focus on one area of pastry, I will always choose tarts. When I appeared on Food Network’s dessert competition show, Sweet Genius, my best parve tarts were featured in my profile at the beginning of the show. Tarts have everything going on: they are crunchy and creamy, often colorful and occasionally nutritious. There is no end to what you can put into a tart shell and even multiple options for crust textures and flavors. I make tarts all year round, changing my fillings with the seasons.
One day while skiing in Italy, we skied into Switzerland which was a big thrill for my four kids, especially for the two who were born in Geneva. As I examined the dessert offerings for ideas, I saw an apple tart in which the apples were sitting in some cream in a puff pastry crust. It was my plum tart from The Kosher Baker, but with apples. In the last few years, I have been able to find fresh plums all year round so I can make a fruit tart in the winter that tastes a bit like summer.
I probably felt at home in Italy because the Italians love chocolate. They put chocolate or Nutella filling into everything they can. In the mountains I saw another familiar tart: one filled with layers of chocolate. One Thanksgiving a few years ago, when asked by my mother what pies and tarts I was making, I saw her sad face when I listed the pumpkin, pecan, pear and apple tarts/pies I had planned. My mom doesn’t think any dessert without chocolate is ever worth the calories. So I created for her a chocolate tart with a chocolate chip crust. There really is a tart for everyone.
8 to 12 servings
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17.3 ounce box)
6 ripe plums
4 tablespoons parve margarine, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon parve whipping cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Move an oven rack to the lowest shelf.
2. Place a 9 or 10-inch tart ring or tart pan with a removable bottom on top of a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Take some soft margarine and with your finger, rub the margarine around the inside of the ring or sides of the tart pan or ring.
Take the sheet of puff pastry out of the freezer. Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
3. Unroll the pastry on top of a piece of parchment sprinkled with a little flour. Roll the pastry about 1 inch larger than your tart ring or pan. You will need to sprinkle some flour on your rolling pin so the pastry does not stick to it. Place your hand under the parchment and flip the pastry over into the tart ring or pan, using your fingers to gently press the pastry into the corners. Peel the parchment off the pastry. Again, use your fingers to make sure the pastry is in the corners and then drape any extra dough over the top of the ring or pan. Roll your rolling pin along the top of the ring or pan to cut off the excess dough. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes while you prepare the plums and filling.
4. Take each plum, cut in half around the pit and then slice each half into 1/4-inch slices.
5. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the margarine in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften, but not completely melt it. In a bowl, place the whole egg and yolk, 1/3 cup of sugar, and vanilla and whisk. Add the flour and baking powder and whisk well. Add the softened margarine and whipping cream and mix well. Remove the pan from the freezer and spread this mixture evenly inside the tart ring or pan.
6. Take the plum slices and, starting on the outside of the pastry, place the slices on their sides, in concentric circles. Pack the plums in tightly. Bake on the bottom oven rack for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar on top. Place back in the oven on the middle rack and bake another 10 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.
7. To serve, if you used a tart ring without a bottom, slide the tart onto a serving plate and then pull off the ring. For a tart pan with a removable bottom, place your hand under the bottom and lift the tart up and out of the ring. Store covered with plastic at room temperature for five days.
©The Kosher Baker: 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
5 tablespoons parve margarine, frozen 30 minutes and then cut into tablespoons
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¾ cup parve whipping cream
1/3 cup parve plain soy milk
½ vanilla bean, scraped
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 large egg yolks
1. To make the crust, place the flour, confectioner’s sugar and margarine into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for 10 seconds, until the mixture resembles sand. Add the egg yolk, water, and vanilla and process just until the dough comes together. Do not mix too much. Place dough on a large piece of plastic wrap. Gather into a ball, cover and then flatten. Chill in the freezer one hour or overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place an 8-inch tart ring or tart pan with a removable bottom on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Grease the ring or pan with a little margarine.
3. Remove dough from freezer and let sit until it softens a little so it can be rolled. Place a piece of plastic wrap larger than the ring on the counter and sprinkle with flour. Place dough on top. Cover with a piece of parchment and roll on top of it to roll out the dough until it is at least one inch larger than the tart ring. Place your hand under the plastic, lift the dough and place in the tart ring using your finger to gently press the dough into the corners. Remove plastic and use a rolling pin to roll over the top to trim off excess dough.
Freeze 10 minutes. Line dough with foil or parchment and beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Lift up the edges of the foil or parchment to remove it and the weights and bake another 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. This can be done in advance and frozen until use.
4. Bring the cream, soymilk and seeds of vanilla bean to boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk. In a separate small bowl, whisk the eggs. Add ½ cup of the chocolate mixture and whisk in. Place this mixture into the saucepan with the chocolate and cream and whisk well. Scoop into the tart shell and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool and then chill in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.