Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nectarine Basil Tarts

This was the first time I used my home-grown basil so I was excited. It didn't necessarily have to be a dessert, but I found a recipe for an apricot basil tart that looked intriguing, so I decided to try it.

Disclaimer: if you haven't had a combo like this before (e.g. apricot-basil/strawberry-basil) be wary. It's one of those acquired tastes. My hubby has a much more mature palette than I do so he enjoys when I use ingredients like rose, lavender, etc. For me, they take getting used to. This is another one of those things. You can always just leave out the basil.

But if you're not sure and still want to try it, I recommend halving the basil amount so that the taste is more subtle. Or else skip the 15-minute wait time when soaking it.

P.S. The filling is enough for a modest layer of custard in each tart shell. If you want it overflowing with custard, double the filling.

Nectarine Basil Tarts
Makes 8

Crust: (Pierre Herme's, halved from HERE)
  • 185g unsalted butter, softened 
  • 5-1/2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-3/4 c flour
Filling: (adapted from HERE)
  • 1c whole milk
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4c packed basil leaves
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 nectarines, halved and pitted
  • jam (nectarine, apricot or peach are best)
  • 2-3 Tbsp sugar


Crust: Beat the butter until creamy. Then beat in milk, yolks, sugar and salt (this won't mix well, so don't worry if it looks funny). Slowly add the flour in 4 or 5 increments, roughly mixing after each time. Gather the dough, divide it in half, and shape them into disks. Cover these in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. (I did this the day before and left it in the fridge overnight.)

Spray your tart pans with oil. Take your first disk out and place it on a well-floured (I use powdered sugar) surface. Roll out to about 1/8-in width, cut out circles to fit your tart pans, and fit into the pans.
Do the same with your 2nd disk of dough and let the tarts chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut out squares of aluminum foil to cover your tart crusts and fill the middle with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 18-20 minutes, then remove the foil and pie weights. Bake for another 5-8 minutes until the tarts start to be golden brown. Let cool completely.

Filling: Pour 3/4 of the milk, the sugar and the basil into a small saucepan. Bring this to a simmer then remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes then strain out the basil leaves and pour the milk mixture back into the saucepan. In a small bowl whisk together the yolks, cornstarch and the rest of the milk until smooth. Very (very) slowly (so as not to scramble your eggs) pour the cornstarch mixture into the warm milk mixture, whisking the entire time. Bring this back to a simmer (continuously whisking) and stir until very thick, 2 minutes. Pour into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, smoothing the wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. Let chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Topping: Prepare a small pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 450F. Place the nectarine halves cut-side up on the pan and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tender. Let cool.

Assembly: Spoon your custard into the tart crusts and top with one nectarine halve, cut-side down. Melt a bit of jam in the microwave and brush your nectarines with it. Garnish with basil leaves.

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