I smiled when I made these tarts. The enticing smell wrapping up the entire house. I smiled when I photographed them. The anticipation of tasting one slowly building up. I smiled when we finally shared one. My toes curling up with happiness. All we needed that day was a bit of dark chocolate and milk jam nestled in macadamia goodness. That day was Valentine's day folks.
Talk about posting behind schedule! The past three weeks have been a complete blur of editing and reviewing the manuscript for Foodography. Now is ultimate crunch time before going to print in a couple of weeks. I confess I got butterflies in my stomach when the first chapters came out from the designer all laid out and ready for us to comb through, dot our i's and cross our t's one more time.
Since this past November that I started writing, B. has been nothing but even more amazing than he already is. We're not into anything V-Day related but this time I wanted to do something extra special for him. He's been my rock throughout this whole project. He held me, both literally and figuratively, whether the words were coming in floods or whether I pondered over the same sentence for 30 minutes. So I wanted to make something special.
I remembered a decadent macadamia tart in an issue Elle a Table that I had brought back after my last trip home. I smiled realizing I had no problem finding a magazine but it's been weeks since I have been able to match a couple pairs of socks. Obvious discombobulated sense or priorities on my part, ehehe!
The base of the tarts is a lovely crust with ground macadamia nuts in it that gets filled with a sweet layer of milk jam and topped with a smooth layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache. Milk jam is very similar in taste to a slow simmered cream and caramel sauce and is super easy to make. It's simply whole milk, sugar and a pinch of baking soda simmered on the stove until they are reduces to a thick caramel sauce.
The process is as enjoyable and addicting as the end result. It fills the air around you with one of the nicest aromas. It is a specialty of the Normandy region of France, but one so good that it's been adopted throughout the country. Thank goodness! Being from Provence, I like to add a sprinkle of lavender buds or a little lemon zest once in a while to spice things up a bit. Just like romance...
After sharing one with him, I put the rest in the freezer and in the whirlwind of a shoot I completely forgot about them until one late night last week. We split one, not entirely thawed and he explained it tasted like a really cold ice cream sundae topping. I could definitely see how some pieces of that tart thrown in some vanilla ice cream would be absolutely delicious. And absolutely decadent. Something to share with your honey...
Macadamia, Milk Jam and Chocolate Tarts:
Makes six 4-inch tartelettes or one 9-inch tart
For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/2 cup (45gr) ground macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold water or milk
For the milk jam:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
For the chocolate ganache:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the rice and millet flours, the ground nuts and mix briefly. Add some water or milk, one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan or six 4-inch tart rings. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days before using. Let cool while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the milk jam:
Place the milk, sugar and baking soda in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. When the mixture is boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer until thick as jam, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The time will differ depending on the diameter of your pot, (the wider, the less time it will take) and the heat you use (electric stove set on medium low can present some differences).
Prepare the chocolate ganache:
Place the chocolate and salt in a non reactive bowl and set aside. In a heavy bottom saucepan set over high heat, bring the cream to almost boiling (really hot basically!). When hot, pour it over the chocolate and salt. Let stand for 5 minutes before slowly whisking the mixture to bring it together to a smooth and silky ganache. If it's not completely smooth, return to very low heat for a few seconds to melt the chocolate some more. Brands vary so this step may be necessary if the chocolate is not completely melted.
Pour 2 tablespoons of milk jam at the bottom of each tartlet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Spoon some chocolate ganache over the milk jam until you reach close to the top. Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving to let the ganache and milk jam set.