I'm back baking again after taking a long break from the non-stop Chinese New Year baking. Chinese New Year was a busy and hectic period of cleaning, baking and eating. I'm so glad it's over. It is my mum's birthday and it's definitely a great reason to bake something for her. I wanted to do something I've never tried before - shortcrust pastry.
This sweet shortcrust recipe is taken from Desserts by Pierre Herme book. I decided to try the recipe from this book as this recipe uses almond powder, which other books do not. The result is good - the crust is flavourful and crumbles in your mouth. Since this is my first time making shortcrust pastry, I had a little problem rolling the dough. It kept breaking. Even though I floured the countertop and rolling pin generously, I failed to unroll it nicely over the tart pan. I had to do a lot of patchwork. It's okay - it turned out pretty and tasty. Will try again next time to improve my skill.
Next, I decided to use chocolate ganache instead of pastry cream to fill the tarts. The kids, niece and nephew love chocolate. Instead of chocolate cake again, it's chocolate fruit tart. The fun part was decorating the tart with fruits and it sure looked pretty. And it's simply delicious too.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
141g unsalted butter, softened
75g icing sugar, sifted
50g ground almond powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
245g plain flour
- Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on low speed until creamy.
- Add the sugar, almond powder, salt, vanilla extract and eggs. With the mixer still on low speed, beat to blend the ingredients, scraping down the paddle and the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough may look curdled - that's all right.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in three or four additions and mix only until the mixture comes together to form a soft, moist dough - a matter of seconds. Don't overdo it.
To shape and chill the dough:
- Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 pieces for an 8 inch tart pan.
- Gently press each piece into a disc and wrap each disc in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days, before rolling and baking.
** Note ** The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen up to one month.
To roll and bake:
- Place a butter tart ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep close at hand. Work with one piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
- Working on a lightly floured surface (marble is ideal), roll the dough into a thickness of between 2 and 4 cm, lifting the dough often and making certain that the work surface and the dough are amply floured at all times. (Because the dough is so rich, it can be difficult to roll, but a well-floured surface makes the job easier. If you are a novice at rolling, you might find it easier to tape a large piece of plastic wrap to the counter and to roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. If you do this, make sure to lift the top sheet of plastic wrap from time to time so that it doesn't crease and get rolled into the dough.)
- Roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll it onto the tart ring.
- Fit the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the ring, then run your rolling pin across the top to cut off the excess.
- If the dough cracks or splits as you work, don't worry - patch the cracks with scraps (moisten the edges with water to "glue" them in place) and just make certain not to stretch the dough that's in the pan. (What you stretch now will shrink later.)
- Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork (unless the tart will be filled with a runny custard or other loose filling) and chill it for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius. Fit a circle of parchment paper or foil into the crust and fill it with dried beans or rice.
- Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, just until it is very lightly colored. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment paper and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool.
170g bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
192g heavy cream
- Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl large enough to hold the chocolate and the heavy cream.
- Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it just reaches the boiling point.
- Pour the heavy cream over the bowl of chopped chocolate. Let it rest for about 3-5 minutes before gently stirring them together until smooth.
- Leave it to cool at room temperature until ready to pour into the baked tart.
Pour the chocolate ganache to just below the top edge of the tart. Leave it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate ganache before topping it with any fruits you desire.