Chai Brûlée Tartlets

I’m pretty darn happy about this creation. These little tartlets combine two of my very favourite things, custard tarts and crème brûlée! Infusing the cream with chai makes a spiced custard that really is a cut above the rest. They’re delicious topped with fresh raspberries or slivered pistachios. They do keep for a few days but I would recommend doing the ‘brûlée’ stage before you want to serve them otherwise the caramel will soften. If this does happen, then sprinkle the tops with a little more sugar and blowtorch to reform a caramel.

1

Recipe (makes 8 tartlets)

Ingredients

For the pastry
  • 200 g Plain Flour
  • 125 g unsalted butter (cold & diced into small cubes)
  • 20 g ground almonds
  • 40 g icing sugar
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
For the custard
  • 300 ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6-8 green cardamom pods
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger (julienned)
  • 2-3 cloves
For the brûlée top
  • 1-2 tsp caster sugar (per tartlet)

Method

For the pastry
  1. Grease your little tart tins with soft butter and place in the fridge to chill.
  2. Place ground almonds, flour, orange zest, icing sugar & cubed butter into food processor and pulse until fine ‘breadcrumbs’ form.
  3. Mix your egg yolks with the vanilla paste. Pour this eggy mixture into the food processor. Pulse until the mixture starts to form into clusters. You may need to add a few drops of chilled water to help everything come together. Make sure you don’t add too much liquid, otherwise your pastry will shrink in the oven.
  4. Tip your craggy pastry dough onto a work surface and bring the dough together to roughly form a block of pastry. Don’t worry if it looks messy, you don’t want to handle the dough too much. Just get the dough to form a shape that will be easy to roll out later on. Clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 190c or 170c fan. Roll out your pastry on a slightly floured surface. 5mm thickness is ideal. Cut out discs of pastry and line the tartlet tins. You can use a serated knife to trim the pastry down and neaten up the edges. Most people prefer to do this after blind baking but I find it a little easier to do this now.
  6. Line your tartlets with crumpled baking parchment and fill with baking beans, rice or dried pulses. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and beans. Bake for a further 5-10minutes until the pastry is cooked. Leave to cool whilst you make the custard. Lower oven temp to 150c or 130c fan.
For the custard
  1. Pour your double cream into a saucepan and add the fresh ginger and spices. Warm the cream to a simmer and then take off the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 15-30 minutes. Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a jug.
  2. Whisk your caster sugar and egg yolks and pour the infused cream until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla and stir through. Place the custard back into the jug.
  3. Carefully fill your pastry cases. Its easier to pour the custard into the pastry cases once they’re already on a baking tray in the oven. Fill the cases as much as possible but don’t worry if you have any you can’t use up all of the custard. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the custard is mostly set. There should be a slight wobble in the centre of the tarts. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Brûlée, Brûlée!
  1. Scatter 1-2 teaspoons of sugar over each tartlet and blowtorch to form a caramel. You can use a hot grill to melt the caramel but keep an eye on the tarts as they will burn easily!
     

Notes:

  • The amount of dough needed for this recipe really does depend on the size of your tartlet tins!
  • I did have excess pastry dough, but I was happy with this as it meant I had a lot of room for error! Extra dough can be clingfilmed and frozen or reused to make biscuits! Reform any dough scraps together, re-roll and cut out desired shapes. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake at 190c or 170c fan for 10 minutes or until golden brown at the edges.

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