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Blackberry And Almond Shortcrust Tartelettes

Blackberry Tartelettes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008I am warning you this is another loaded post but having a food blog makes you part of an awesome group of people worldwide and when this community reaches out for help…I just jump because they have given me so much already.

I never thought I’d say this but I am exciting to see June. I usually love May and all the promises that Spring carries. That lighter feel in your step, the days being longer and filled of beautiful sunsets, the trees in full blooms, produce getting a new skin at the store…But as much as the first half of May was filled with joyous and sweet moments such as Marcela’s visit or my birthday, the end of May turned quickly bitter-sweet as well as full and empty at the same time. Before I forget…I am having a bad case of what B. called "Gruyere Head": the lovely apron in the first picture was a handmade gift of Holly’s mother-in-law and I have been starring at it for a couple of weeks now, unable to put it on, afraid I’d stain it…I know aprons are meant to be worn…give me some time, ok?!!

We lost a dear friend, another one got diagnosed with a very invasive form of cancer and while my uncle and aunt are here visiting, we got news that our beloved great aunt Marcelle passed away.We found comfort in just sitting there over a cup of coffee and a pastry discovering different perception on events and people. All throughout May, the “aaws” turned to “yikes” so June is a welcome sight indeed.

I know that things won’t get better just because it is a new month, but the wonderful human interactions I have had in May have given me the strength to make sense of it all. I guess getting one year older does have a purpose beside another …My heart and soul are filled to the rim and just want to explode. Since I am a big believer of paying it forward, I was thrilled when Bee of Jugalbandi asked if I wanted to put a prize for bids in the fundraiser she was organizing for Bri of Figs With Bri. As a long time reader of her blog, I have enjoyed her cooking journey and was touched by her letting us know about the hard truth behind the words. Bri, wonderful and funny Bri has cancer, breast cancer.

I can hear you " Hey, Tartelette, I thought you just said June was going to be better!"….Well they are…because one more time we can move our derrieres and help a friend, offer comfort and support and do something. I have seen throughout this month what a amazing and kick ass community food bloggers are and I know this fundraiser is going to be a success. I also know that there is nothing like food to bring people together so of course this post is not without a sweet recipe. For details on how to help Bri, read the end of this post where you will find all the info necessary.

These little blackberry tartlets with a crunch sweet short crust were a true "baume au coeur", medicine for the heart this past week. Sharing one of my favorite recipes with my aunt and uncle while talking about aunt Marcelle, my ailing grandfather and the family history, was a moment I won’t be quick to forget. Picking the blackberries together under the scorching sun, mixing the ingredients for the dough while sipping lemonade and being rewarded with tasty little bites for dessert. We sat in silence, each thinking about the last time such a thing happened and how bizarre and crazy life can turn out to be. I sure feel better after a few bites of these!

Blackberry Tartelettes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008Blackberry & Almond Shortcrust Tartelettes:
Makes 6-8, depending on your tart molds.

Printable Recipe

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. Reroll the scraps and cut into strips to use as decorative patterns once the shells are filled and prior to their last baking time. Let cool to room temperature before filling with the blackberries.

Blackberry filling:
1 pint fresh blackberries
zest and juice from one lemon
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tb. cornstarch

In a heavy saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat over medium until the blueberries release their juices and the whole mix start to thicken, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Divide the filling among the tart shells, lay strips of the remaining dough over the tartlets. Brush with a little milk and bake another 20 minutes at 350F. Let cool completely before removing them from the tart shells.

Blackberry Tartelettes-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Bri is going through the expected rounds of chemo and other treatments as well as trying other healing alternatives such as holistic methods, which are unfortunately not covered by her health insurance. We thought we’d give them a break and a little boost with their medical bills. Hence, the team organising the JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi, "Yellow for Bri" has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.

Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer. The entries can be viewed HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise. There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer.

After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site. Your donation can be made securely goes directly to Bri’s account. This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details HERE. You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicising this campaign.

Mint Pana Cottas With Blackberry Coulis

Pana Cottas-Copyright©Tartelette 2008 Thank you, thank you to all of you who visited Kate and myself and leaving wonderful birthday wishes. Wow! You do know how to party!! For your comments, the dancing and singing ecards to the thoughtful emails: thank you.

We ended up gathering the usual troops, a.k.a the neighbors and the kids and grilled, drank had a fire and s’mores…and of course cake, which the twins had to adorn with those not so great never ending magical candles…argh!!! To say that my head was heavy this morning at work was an understatement but I could not get out of those appointments. However, I had planned on taking the afternoon off and take a nap, go to the beach, be productive…You know….While resting my head on the couch pillows I started to remember a conversation with our neighbor C. about pana cottas. Was there that much vodka involved that I can’t remember if I did or did not volunteer to teach her pana cottas? Ouch! That was going to be a long day… I felt a pinch and a tuck on a my brain "Hello Tartelette Smackelette! Remember! What exactly did you say? What time? How many? What flavor?" C. called and asked if I needed something from the store since she was going that way:

Me: "Painkillers?"…
C: "Oh you don’t remember do you, that’s ok we can reschedule"
{I hate rescheduling…do it now while the spirit of the moment is there. Problem.}
Me: "You know what? Whatever I said we’d do, let’s do it….it was legal right?"
{Cross fingers, take a deep breath, pray you did not volunteer yourself for another impromptu dinner for 20}
C: "Ok, now you are scaring me…You said Pana Cottas were easy and now I am freaking out!"
{My blood pressure just got back to normal, hers is now through the roof. Well done Helen!}
Me: "no no no…easy peasy….promise. Here’s the list of stuff to get. I’ll go behind the house and get blackberries."

That was just part one of the adventures. I did try to get the blackberries, I did, I promise….but looking and bending down trying to pick out the ripe ones proved to be a rather painful adventures, my head, my stomach and the vodka from the night before all colliding at the same moment. That’s when my best guys arrived and saved the day! Indeed, C’s twins came armed with baskets and in 20 minutes had blue hands, blue tongues, blue shirts and about 2 cups worth of blackberries. In the meantime I played with the computer a little, as I am trying to put a page up and a map to keep you abreast of the Traveling Eggs adventures, but bear with me on that one, time is not on my side (as if we all did not have that issue, right?!). Allright enough about our little village whereabouts and on with the pana cottas….I am not always that talkative (shshh mom), it must be old age!!

Pana Cottas-Copyright Tartelette 2008 Pana Cotta is probably one of my favorite desserts. It is rich and yet seemingly light to the palate, versatile so you can flavor or top it anyway you like. Refreshing with fruits or comforting with caramel, the possibilities are endless. Since the mint is growing like crazy (does getting old give one a greener thumb?), I infused the cream and the milk with a good handful of it and cooked down the blackberries to a puree with some sugar and lemon. We did not have quite enough for 4 glasses so I used some leftover curd from the birthday cake for one of them. Guess who got that one 🙂

Mint Pana Cotta With Blackberry Coulis:

Serves 4

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin bloomed in 2 Tb water (means to pour the water over the gelatin and let it sit while you prepare the pana cotta)

Combine all the ingredients, except the gelatin, in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let the cream to steep for 20 minutes. Pass the mixture through a sieve or a chinois, heat the gelatin in the microwave for 8 seconds and quickly stir it in the cream mixture. Divide it evenly among small dishes, glasses, etc…Let set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Blackberry Coulis:
2 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tb lemon zest

Bring all the ingredients to a simmer on medium high heat and cook until the blackberries are soft. Process to a puree with a hand held blender or in a food processor. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and strain the seeds out, discard those. Let cool completely before you divide the coulis on top of the pana cottas. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Pana Cotta-Copyright©Tartelette 2008
Because its calcium rich components like cream, milk, blackberries and lemons, I am sending these to a favorite blogger of mine, Susan from Food Blogga , who is hosting a great event to raise awareness about osteoporosis entitled Beautiful Bones. Thank you for opening up to us and organizing this Susan!