March 11, 2017

pistachio blood orange tartlets

As soon as the month of March is in sight, I´m among those who will eagerly notice the slightest signs of spring: a green leaf here, a new blossom there, the sun rising a little earlier than last week, the choir of birds singing a little more enthusiastically in the morning. Actually, I wouldn´t mind skipping winter altogether, proceeding from golden October to bright spring days in the blink of an eye. I wouldn´t miss a thing. Or would I? Metereological adversities aside, admittedly there´s quite a few things I like about the cold season: say candles,  cookies, Christmas - and citrus. J´adore les agrumes! Oranges and blood oranges, tangerines and clementines, lemons,  limes & grapefruit - over the past months, the entire citrus clan subsequently moved into my kitchen, and helped me through the cold and grey: each sip and bite a little boost of sunshine. 

Now that today feels like spring for the first time,  the bowl that held piles of oranges and clementines will slowly empty over the next week or so. Next time I buy fruit, I´ll probably chose pears over tangerines, dump the blood oranges for the rhubarb, and the first strawberries are always a temptation on their own, one I can never resist to, even if  it will take tons of powdered sugar to bring out their real selves. The allure of the new will make me unfaithful, I know, my beloved oranges will end up being left behind - but before that happens, let´s celebrate together one more time. Let´s have tartlets. Orange, or blood orange and pistachio tartlets. Or lemon, or grapefruit, or tangerine. Anything goes with that scrumptious pistachio tart crust (actually, it´s all about the crust, but don´t tell!). It´s so simple and good. And then, let´s move on to spring!

Blood orange & pistachio tartlets (yields 6 tartlets):

pistachio tart crust:
175 g flour
50 g ground pistachios, from salted pistachios
60 g confectioner´s sugar
3 egg yolks
110 g unsalted butter
pinch of salt (only if using unsalted pistachios)
2-3 tbsp cold water

blood orange curd:
180 ml blood orange juice
juice from 1 lemon (25 ml)
2 eggs + 2 yolks
80 g butter
120 g sugar
blood orange zest if using untreated oranges

handful of chopped pistachios
1-2 blood orange, quartered, then very finely sliced
confectioner´s sugar

Make the crust: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), working at low to medium speed, mix all the ingredients except water until you obtain a fine crumble, 3-5 min. Then add water 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together. At the end, there should be no more visible butter flakes. Shape a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

For the curd, squeeze out enough blood oranges to obtain 180 ml juice, plus one lemon. If you have organic fruit, zest 3 of the oranges prior to juicing them. Combine all ingredients for the curd except eggs in a saucepan, set over moderate heat, and allow butter to melt. As soon as the butter has melted, add eggs and yolks, stirring constantly for 7-10 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool (continue to stir for 30 sec to 1 more minute once the heat is off to avoid curdling).

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350 °F. Grease 6 tartlets tins with butter and line them with the rolled out pastry. Make sure to work on a well floured surface, and using a well floured rolling pin etc as the dough is quite delicate.

Prick tartlets multiple times with a fork, cover each one with a circle of parchment and add some ovenproof weights.  Blind bake tartlets for a couple of minutes (about 7 min should do).

Remove parchment and weights, pour cooled curd into pastry shells. Bake for another 12-15 minutes approx. Leave to cool on a wire rack, unmould once cooled.

To serve, quarter 1 or 2 blood oranges and slice them very finely. On a parchment paper lined baking tray, dust orange slices with confectioner´s or brown sugar. Brown oranges under oven broiler under constant sight. Sprinkle tartlets with a few chopped pistachios and a couple of "burnt" orange slices.


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