Loquat Creme Brulee Tartelettes
The family is packing for their upcoming departure tomorrow morning, so I thought it’s be best to stay at out of their packing jitters and tell you about the Loquat Creme Brulee Tartelettes we had last night….I am all about peace…. with tarts.
Back at the beginning of May when Marcela was visiting, we took a walk downtown and kept bumping into dozens of trees bearing a yellow/orange fruit that looked like a cross between an apricot and a plum. I thought about loquats but quickly discarded that thought. Really, what would be the odds to in the Lowcountry?! They grow and flourish in California in April and May, but it seemed like the first time I had ever seen one in town…but again locals are not the most observant people in their own town sometimes, and that day I had my camera in hand looking for the peculiarities of the city.
The loquat tree takes its origins in Southeastern China and was later introduced to Japan where it has been cultivated for over a thousand years. It is believed to have come to America via Chinese immigrants settling in Hawai. (source Wikipedia). We picked a couple off of a tree and scrupulously peeled them, not sure if we were indeed on the right loquat track. I figured that if the squirrels and the birds were feasting on them, it was safe to join them (yeah, I know, weird justification…!). The fruits was sweet and sour at the same time, like an apricot crossed with an Italian plum with a touch of lemon. We kept on walking and found another tree on the street with a sign giving us the confirmation that it as indeed a Eriobotrya japonica, or loquat tree.
We were not equipped for loquat picking that day (ladder necessary) and I vowed to either sneak into somebody’s yard at night or find a person somebody living in town. I started talking about them to one of my clients who lives downtown and she exclaimed that she was going away for the weekend and I was most welcome to go loquat picking at her house because they would otherwise just fall and rot in her driveway. Her waste, my taste….Yippee!! Once off the tree and cleaned of all lovely little bugs, it happens that the fruits turn "bad" very very fast. Not being one to particularly love stomach aches and given that loquats are high in pectin, I opted to make jam with the loot I had left.
Dinner time rolled around last night and no dessert was planned…gulp! We were peaking in the fridge and freezer to come up with something, when I remembered having enough almond shortcrust dough leftover from the blackberry tartelettes, a few egg yolks and a jar of loquat preserve. Loquat Creme Brulee Tartelettes were now on the menu! You can substitute the almonds in the tart dough with any nuts of your liking and do the same with the preserve.
Loquat Creme Brulee Tartelettes:
Makes 6-8 depending on your tart molds
For the tart shells:
1 stick plus 1 Tb. butter, cut in small pieces
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
In a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients. Add the butter and pulse again. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the mixture comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.Roll between sheets of plastic wrap and cut out circles larger than your tart shells, fit the dough into the molds and cut out the excess. Prick with a fork, cover with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before filling with the loquat preserve.
2.5 pounds pitted and chopped fresh loquats
3 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
Combine loquats, sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a large sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thick. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add lemon juice and cook 1 minute longer. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 15 minutes on a boiling water bath. If you need to read more about canning, here is a great site: National Center For Home Food Preservation.
Creme Brulee Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
2 tsp (packed) lemon zest
1 tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 Tb brown sugar for the top
Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, cream, yolks, and eggs in a bowl until pale. Add lemon zest. Pour filling into tart shells filled with the preserve. Bake until filling is slightly puffed at edges and set in center, about 30 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Remove from rings or tart pans.
Sprinkle tart with 2 tablespoons sugar. If using an oven: broil tart until sugar melts and caramelizes, turning sheet for even browning, about 2 minutes.
If using a torch: start slow and high up to melt the sugar and gradually get your flame closer to finish the burnt effect.
April June 4, 2008 um 4:41 pm
I have never heard of loquats! I am very curious!
Anonymous June 4, 2008 um 4:49 pm
They look absolutely delicous. You are too clever with what you whip up in no time. Great photos.
Anonymous June 4, 2008 um 5:16 pm
It’s always inspiring to see the desserts you come up with. This one is no different. I love the idea of making preserves with them too. If only these grew in Michigan…
Anonymous June 4, 2008 um 5:42 pm
Wow, these are immpressive. I’ve never had loquats. What a cool deesert.
Rosa's Yummy Yums June 4, 2008 um 5:44 pm
Those tartelettes must taste incredibly good! An amazing fruit!
jennifer June 4, 2008 um 5:51 pm
never heard of loquats! neat! the inside reminds me sort of a fig jam. are they at all like figs?
ServesYouRight June 4, 2008 um 5:52 pm
That picture of the note on the tree is priceless! Such a delicious adventure! Many thanks for sharing 🙂
Marce June 4, 2008 um 5:57 pm
great memories, and lovely dessert, but you forgot to tell them about the English gentleman who stopped by to help us. I need to remember to link to this post when I write my post about Charleston (I´ve already started with NY, so I´m hoping I can finally get to it next week).
[email protected] June 4, 2008 um 6:06 pm
ooo lovely, don’t think I’ve ever had a loquat, wonder are they called something different here.
Cannelle Et Vanille June 4, 2008 um 6:13 pm
I have never tasted a loquat. I am so intrigued… I love a creme brulee tart so these must be magnificent! Enjoy the last day with the family!
Warda June 4, 2008 um 6:22 pm
Now I am completely confused. If these fruits are nèfles, then I always thought that they are called Medlar in English!
My grandmother used to have a nèfle tree in her backyard, and I loooooooove it. My mother makes a killer nèfle tagine with almonds paste and lamb…souvenirs, souvenirs!
Too bad we can’t find them here in Michigan.
Oh well! I have your lovely photos to warm up my heart.
BTW, when are you going to come to Michigan so we can make couscous and M’semmen and tagines together?
Suzana June 4, 2008 um 6:37 pm
I have no idea what a loquat tastes like but those tartelettes look more than edible! You must have had some very happy eaters around your table!
LizNoVeggieGirl June 4, 2008 um 6:56 pm
I wish everyone in the family a safe departure/trip!!!
Wow, I never knew ANY of that about loquat trees – interesting!! And kudos to you for coming up with such a DELIGHTFUL treat at the last minute – once again, Helen, you are truly an inspiration!!
Ann June 4, 2008 um 7:40 pm
Okay, this is the 2nd reason in 2 days I’ve come across to buy a torch – clearly, a girl needs a torch! Thanks for the excuse. 🙂
Anonymous June 4, 2008 um 7:52 pm
I love loquats! What an inspired idea.
Sophie June 4, 2008 um 8:44 pm
sounds like loquats have a pretty interesting flavor combo. Love the name hehe :).
Anonymous June 5, 2008 um 1:13 am
Creative! I’m so curious as to what these loquats taste like. Love the sign, I wonder if anyone actually took the time to stop and pick some?
Manggy June 5, 2008 um 1:42 am
Haha! That’s very quick thinking! Beautiful tartelettes! 🙂
Anonymous June 5, 2008 um 1:58 am
I’ve never had a loquat, but I’d love to try one… These look like beautiful desserts, I would have never guessed they were a last-minute effort!
Christy June 5, 2008 um 2:58 am
Oh you are so lucky! I’ve never seen or tasted a loquat before; although I have heard that they are pretty common in Japan, but also very much seasonal. Thus most of the loquat harvest are either dried or preserved.
I admire you being able to come up with an original and delicious dessert so quickly!
My Sweet & Saucy June 5, 2008 um 5:25 am
I’ve never even heard of a loquat before, but that dessert sure looks delicious!
Garrett June 5, 2008 um 6:58 am
That’s a funny thought, you running around into peoples' yards looking for a tree to steal some fruit from. This loquat is definitely a new fruit to me, but these tartelettes look fabulous!
Anonymous June 5, 2008 um 9:50 am
Like almost everyone else, I’ve never heard of loquats, but they sound lovely!
Love the look of the tarts! Yum 🙂
Eva June 5, 2008 um 10:14 am
It’s really amazing to see what you’re able to come up with – even if you’re totally busy! Wish I could do that, too…
Botacook June 5, 2008 um 11:27 am
J’adore tout simplement tes photos. On a juste envie d’attraper cette cuiller et de goûter à cette magnifique mini-tarte!
J’avais déjà goûté la nèfle du Japon à la Réunion ; là-bas, on l’appelle bibasse. C’était bon mais pas exceptionnel ; peut-être que c’est meilleur une fois cuit?
Marianna June 5, 2008 um 12:14 pm
wow, does that look amazing or what! My mother has grown up with loquat jam (and also candied loquats) quite often in the kitchen, she introduced it to me a few years ago- she loves it and so do I now!
LyB June 5, 2008 um 12:49 pm
As always, I’m in awe of your creativity! And your photos are getting more and more delicious looking, if that’s even possible! 🙂
Patricia Scarpin June 5, 2008 um 2:23 pm
I used to have loquats when I was little, Helene, but never knew they could be transformed in something so luscious!
That Girl June 5, 2008 um 7:22 pm
How could I have been reading your blog for so long without realizing you were in South Carolina? One reference to low country and I am instantly brought back to summer vacations…and our upcoming fall trip!
Ivy June 5, 2008 um 7:24 pm
Yum! I love anthing having to do with creme brulee. 🙂
Anonymous June 5, 2008 um 10:58 pm
You are just magical! I’m completely smitten with these tarts, and the sign on the tree!
Anonymous June 5, 2008 um 11:19 pm
It’s like you couldn’t decide on a sweet, so you made them all; but you put them together in the most bladder -weakeningly delicious looking way.
I’ve never had or even seen a Loquat before, but can see myself loving them from your description alone.
PheMom June 6, 2008 um 2:26 am
I love that you can just find these things! First the blackberries and now this! So fun! Those little tarts look wonderful!
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 3:22 am
These are so beautiful!
Michelle Engel Bencsko June 6, 2008 um 4:03 am
What an appropriate time for you to make an appearance on my blog! I just LOVE creme brulee! I have to giggle because my grandmother is also a Frenchwoman (gourmande? peut-être) married to an Irish American and she can also quote Erma Bombeck. So, I guess that means we’re practically related!
Thanks for your thoughts!
Mrs.French June 6, 2008 um 5:06 am
The photos, the story….perfection. Oh and if you could just send one of these my way that would be perfect too.
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 11:13 am
I want taste this, it looks so good and a fruit I have never tasted is a dream!
AprilDawn June 6, 2008 um 11:40 am
My first time to your blog and you have me wishing I was eating with you tonight 😉
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 1:00 pm
How awesome to find something new (practically) in your own back yard!
You’ve got me itching to hunt for unique local produce.
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 1:03 pm
Love the concept of creme brulee in a tart shell!
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 1:47 pm
In Israel loquats are grown commercially as well as in every other garden. We usually eat them fresh as they turn brown in cooking.
Anonymous June 6, 2008 um 3:01 pm
These are absolutely beautiful. One of my favorite desserts to make is creme brulee! Now I need to try it in tartelette fashion.
Peabody June 7, 2008 um 8:18 am
There is one fruit I will have to be on the lookout for since I have never heard of it. Looks good though.
Anonymous June 9, 2008 um 5:26 am
My grandma used to have a loquat tree in her backyard. Every now and then we would eat the fruit but I’m not sure anyone ever cooked with it. Alas, it came down with some disease and had to be pulled up. I wish it was still there for me to use in some recipes.
Susan from Food Blogga June 9, 2008 um 10:02 pm
Yes, we have loquats at our SoCal farmers' markets, and now you’ve given me a delightful way to use them. I’ve only eaten them fresh, so I’m quite excited by this!
steph- whisk/spoon June 9, 2008 um 10:25 pm
the sign on the tree cracks me up! i’ve never had a loquat, but i’d love to try one of those tarts!
Anonymous June 10, 2008 um 8:55 pm
I love your loquat tartelettes…apart from looking stunning, as always, they must be delicious with the loquat filling!
Sha June 12, 2008 um 8:05 pm
Pour ma part je n’ai pas souvenir d’avoir goûté ce fruit à la Réunion (dommage). Je me laisserais donc plus que volontiers tenter par tes tartelettes…
Shining Windows March 26, 2009 um 12:54 pm
Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen May 6, 2010 um 12:20 am
This is SO great. I am going to a girlfriend's house on Saturday, who has three huge loquat trees in her backyard. We've been waiting for them to ripen and I've been diligently try to think of what to do with them. And then I found this post! Brilliant! Thanks so much!