Fruit tart with rum cream, chocolate and blackberries

rum cream tart

The recipe today reaches back, way back, for me. It combines many elements that I find appealing in a dessert… fresh fruit, a cookie or shortbread type crust, whipped cream and chocolate.  Honestly, this is a dessert that lends itself more toward a fancy ladies tea than anything else. Baked as small individual tarts and artfully embellished with various summer fruits it’s a pretty and pleasing sweet for a wedding or baby shower spread. And I have made it for that purpose in the past, but for a dinner party a big ‘ole tart works just fine and is much faster to put together. While there are several steps and I do end up using lots of bowls, spoons, spatulas and such, none of the techniques are difficult and the resulting tart (or tartlets) are very well worth any trouble.

My Dear Hubby just went bananas for this dessert, surprising me to be honest. I think the rum cream filling is superb and works well with many types of fruit. The added layer of chocolate  helps keep the pastry crust from becoming soggy and hey, who doesn’t like chocolate? But I will confess,  you can skip the chocolate layer if you so desire, just be sure to assemble the tart at the last moment or you’ll have a ‘soggy bottom’. And if you don’t care to glaze the berries that’s okay too – it  just makes the fruit shiny and pretty.

The biggest secret to this recipe is the fruit. Use the best fresh fruit you can find – so ideally this is a summer dessert here in the USA. However, we’ve been getting some very good, large blackberries and raspberries here at our local grocery, so while I splurged here in December, you (and Dear Hubby) reap the reward. Enjoy!

Rolling in or rather, out the pastry. This pastry dough is very buttery so it must rest in the refrigerator before being placed into action under the pin....

Rolling in, or rather out, the pastry. This pastry dough is very buttery so it must rest in the refrigerator before being placed into action under the pin….

Line the tart pan with the pastry, trim the edges and prick the bottom and side a with a fork. This will keep the pastry flat while it bakes. You can also use pastry beans/beads but the fork method works great for me.

Line the tart pan with the pastry, trim the edges and prick the bottom and sides with a fork. This will keep the pastry flat while it bakes. You can also use pastry beans/beads but the fork method works great for me.

Mixing the egg, rum and milk.

Mixing the egg, rum and milk.

Mix the egg/milk mixture into the "dry" mixture. Then cook this slowly over heat to get the rum pastry cream.

Mix the egg/milk mixture into the “dry” mixture. Then cook this slowly over heat to get the rum pastry cream.

Here the rum pastry cream is cooking and I am whisking (or stirring)  continuously. Once it just starts to boil, remove form the heat and...

Here the rum pastry cream is cooking and I am whisking (or stirring) continuously. Once it just starts to boil, remove from the heat and…

chill OVER ice water. Keep stirring or whisking until it is cooled. Refrigerate while you make the other parts.

chill OVER ice water. Keep stirring or whisking until it is cooled. Refrigerate while you make the other parts.

The layer of chocolate  acts like a barrier to the rum cream and fruit so the crust stays "crustier" longer.  Plus chocolate goes together so well with fruit like berries...

The layer of chocolate acts like a barrier to the rum cream and fruit so the crust stays “crustier” longer. Plus chocolate goes together so well with fruit like berries…

Pour the warm chocolate into the cooled crust. Use a spatula or back of a large spoon to smooth the chocolate layer. Refrigerate the tart at this point. It must be cool before adding the top rum cream layer.

Pour the warm chocolate into the cooled crust. Use a spatula or the back of a large spoon to smooth the chocolate layer. Refrigerate the tart at this point. It must be cool before adding the top rum cream layer.

Fold the sweetened whipped cream to the cooled rum pastry cream. You can stir in about a third of the whipped cream if the pastry cream is thick and heavy. Then fold in the remainder of the whipped cream.

Fold the sweetened whipped cream to the cooled rum pastry cream. You can stir in about a third of the whipped cream if the pastry cream is thick and heavy. Then fold in the remainder of the whipped cream.

Spread the finished rum cream on top of the chocolate layer of the tart. Now we're ready for those berries!

Spread the finished rum cream on top of the chocolate layer of the tart. Now we’re ready for those berries!

Top the tart with the fruit and brush with the glaze. You can also glaze each berry by dipping it in the glaze and then placing it on the tart. I think the former technique is easier, though.

Top the tart with the fruit and brush with the glaze. You can also glaze each berry by dipping it in the glaze and then placing it on the tart. I think the former technique is easier, though.

The whole finished tart.

The whole finished tart.

Here's a close up of the sliced tart so you can see the layers better.

Here’s a close up of the sliced tart so you can see the layers better.

Fruit Tart with Rum Cream and Chocolate

Pastry

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus extra
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-2 tbl cold water

In a large bowl stir flour with salt and sugar. Cut butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in egg white and just enough water to make a dough. Gather dough and warp in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up until 4 hours. When ready roll dough out on a lightly floured surface and line a 9 or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick pastry with a fork many times and place back in refrigerator while the oven preheats to 400 degrees. Bake pastry crust 12-15 minutes, and cool in the pan placed on a rack.

Rum Cream

  • 1 tbl gelatin (1 packet plus a little more)
  • 2 tbl sugar
  • 2 tbl flour
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbl confectioners sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tbl rum
  • salt (dash)
  • ice water

In a sauce pan mix gelatin, sugar, flour and dash of salt. In a medium bowl whisk egg yolk, milk and rum until very well combined. Pout this into the gelatin mixture and heat slowly over low heat, whisking continuously. Turn up heat to medium and continue to whisk. Cook until the mixture thickens and just begins to boil. Remove from heat and set pan over ice water and continue to whisk until the mixture is cooled. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

In a mixing bowl whip the heavy cream and confectioners until peaks form and the cream is whipped. Remove the rum cream from the refrigerator and stir well –using a whisk if it has set. Fold sweetened whipped cream into the rum cream until well combined. Cover and refrigerate.

Chocolate Layer

  • 1 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi sweet or bitter sweet – use your favorite good quality chocolate)
  • 1-2 tbl Crisco or other solid vegetable shortening

In a heavy bottomed pan or double boiler heat chocolate chips slowly, stirring as they melt. Add shortening and continue to stir until the mixture is smooth to your liking. Pour warm chocolate into cooled tart pastry and spread to smooth. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes or until chocolate filling is completely cool. Spoon the rum cream on top of the cooled chocolate. Refrigerate.

Glaze and Assembly

  • 1 pint fresh berries* (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries or a combination) washed and dried
  • ¼ cup light colored jelly, jam or preserves (apricot, peach, persimmon, etc)
  • 1 tbl water

In a small saucepan heat jam and add the water. Stir. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place fruit on the tart evenly and/or in a pattern if you like. Brush each berry with the warm glaze, careful not to drip the warm glaze on the rum cream. Alternately, you can brush glaze on each berry and then place the berries on the tart.

Serve immediately or can be held in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour or so. Makes 10-12 servings.

*Top the tart with whole berries to avoid a runny tart. Sliced fruit will drain onto the rum cream and while it will still taste fine, it may make a messy dessert, especially when sliced.

Lovely and amazing: fresh fig stuffed with pecan, chevre & honey

It has certainly been quite the chore finding figs this summer, but I am happy to report that I did find a few of the brown turkey variety last week. Unfortunately this was not enough to make preserves, obviously, and just devouring the whole lot by myself seemed, well, downright selfish. So, I decided to prepare these fresh beauties one of my favorite ways, stuffed with chèvre and toasted pecans and lightly roasted. A flourish of local honey drizzled over the top adds a touch of sweetness. Fresh figs do not need much in the manner of fussy accompaniments or tricky preparations, and I was not about to mess up the delicate flavor of my few precious figgy fruits.

This recipe make both a tasty appetizer or a light dessert. You can use plain goat cheese or a flavored one, like the honey infused variety I used here. I adore pecans and pairing them with figs just seemed the right fit, if you know what I mean. But walnuts are good too. I enjoyed these figs with a Pinot Noir, but I would think that most any light to medium bodied wine (red or white) would pair well with this recipe.

Fresh figs – these are brown turkey, probably the most common variety grown here in the South.

Ingredients of four: figs, goat cheese, pecans and honey.

Step 1: Mix the toasted nuts and the softened cheese.

Step 2: Slice the figs in a cross across the top but not all the way through the fruit.

Line the figs up on an oiled baking sheet.

Step 3: Stuff each fig with a bit of the pecan/cheese mixture and roast for a few minutes in a preheated oven.

Step 4: Remove the roasted figs from the oven onto a platter and drizzle with honey. Snappity snap, there you go!

Simple Stuffed Fresh Summer Figs

  • Large fresh, ripe figs (at least 12)
  • 1 – 4 oz package chevre (goat cheese) regular or honey-infused
  • 1/3 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Warm honey (1/4 – 1/3 cup)
  • Vegetable oil – I use grape oil

Preheat oven to 425°. Wash and dry figs. Lightly oil a baking dish. In a small bowl mix the goat cheese and nuts. Quarter the figs, cutting three-quarters of the way down (but not all the way through). Stuff each fig with the cheese/nut mixture. Bake the figs in the oven about 6-7 minutes. Remove and drizzle with the warmed honey. Serves 4.

Real Southern-style Banana Pudding.

Hey, it’s summer and it’s sizzling here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. We have family down for a long weekend and we’ll all be heading to our historic town for their annual festivalapolooza… the “Beaufort Water Festival”. Actually it will be the first one I’ve attended, so I’ll be checking out the vibe and get back on the blog with some insider’s information and a recap. It lasts 2 weeks with events and different things going on every day. Should be fun if we don’t all melt in the heat but hey, that’s July in the South so it’s par for the course.

In the meantime, here is a recipe for a Southern favorite, banana pudding. It utilizes my Mama’s southern custard recipe with the addition of homemade whipped cream plus vanilla wafers, bananas and a surprise meringue topping. The meringue is not my original idea. At last year’s Music to your Mouth Festival, I encountered the banana pudding from Crook’s Corner (Chapel Hill, NC). What made it the bees knees was this meringue topping, so hats off to them for actually adding a new twist to this old favorite. I would say the key to banana pudding is the homemade custard and the vanilla wafers. I always use Nabisco “Nilla Wafers” and I would never even bother making it unless I had homemade custard. Does that make me a banana pudding snob? Then guilty as charged.

The ingredients for authentic banana pudding. I cut off the image so you can”t see the confectioner’s sugar and the cream of tartar at the bottom. Sorry about that!

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled custard – makes it just that much richer.

First layer the wafers in the bottom of the serving dish.

Then spoon on the custard and the banana slices. Then repeat the entire process.

Make the meringue with egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Whip it all until stiff peaks are formed.

Spread the meringue on a greased piece of parchment on a baking sheet.

After baking a few minutes you get a crusty sweet topping for your ‘nanner pudding.

Close-up of the finished, plated pudding. A cool and rich dessert perfect for summer.

Southern-Style Banana Pudding 

  • custard – 1 full recipe’s worth (see below), chilled
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbl. confectioners sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3 tbl. sugar
  • 2-3 large bananas, ripe but not brown
  • vanilla wafers

In a mixing bowl whip the cream until frothy, add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to whip until fluffy. Fold into the custard.

In a large and deep baking dish layer layers vanilla wafers to cover the bottom. Spread ½ the custard and add a layer of sliced bananas on top of that. Repeat the layers. Cover and chill until just before ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whip the eggs whites with the cream of tartar until frothy. Continue to whip the egg whites, adding the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the meringue is light, fluffy and hold it’s shape when the beaters are lifted.

Lightly oil or butter a piece of parchment and place on a baking sheet. Spread the meringue on the parchment and bake until lightly browned – about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and scoop immediately to top individual portions of the banana pudding.

Note: If you are serving a crowd and expect all the banana pudding will be eaten you can spread the meringue on top of the chilled banana pudding and bake the entire pan at once.

Custard

  • 3 large eggs, well beaten
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 2 tbl. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan or double boiler, scald the milk and allow to cool slightly. In a small bowl mix the sugar and flour. Whisk the sugar/flour mixture into the eggs. Make sure this mixture is well incorporated and smooth. Spoon or scoop out about ¼ cup of the egg mixture and quickly whisk this into the scalded milk. Repeat and mix well.

Place the milk back on the heat and whisk the remaining egg/sugar mixture into the milk as it heats. Keep whisking and heating until the mixture come almost to a boil and coats a spoon when it is dipped into the hot custard. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. *Allow to cool slightly and place in the refrigerator.

Cover the slightly cooled custard with plastic wrap that touches the top of the custard. This should prevent a “skin” from forming on top of the custard.

Something delicious this way comes… blueberry streusel cobbler

Hey there, it’s blueberry season across the USA ya’ll. Blueberries are my favorite fruit and I am always on the lookout for new delicious ways to make use of them, especially in the summer when they are fresh. Of course, they lend themselves best to desserts and baked goods and that’s how I first enjoyed them as a kid. Being Southern I also have a love for that most quintessential of southern desserts, the cobbler.

I enjoy a cobbler of the crispy, pie crust like variety as well as the more gooey, cakey type. My favorite recipe of the latter is probably well known to you if you’re a southern cook, as the “1-cup cobbler” recipe. Over the years I have taken this recipe, played with some of the ingredients and created a variation I find perfect for blueberries. This goes together in a snap.

It works well with blackberries too or a mixture of both. Top it with a big dollop of real whipped cream, good quality vanilla ice cream or for an authentic taste of the south, homemade vanilla custard (which I posted a few weeks ago).

Ingredients for this recipe plus the baking dish I use.

The streusel topping is made by mixing 4 tablespoons softened butter with the oatmeal, some Demera sugar, flour, cornmeal, a little salt and allspice. It will be crumbly.

Melt the butter right in the baking dish (and use the preheating oven for energy efficiency). Add in the sugar, the flour mixture and the vanilla.

The cobbler “mix” is also crumbly before adding the milk.

Add the milk and stir but do not over mix. There will be some lumps.

Blueberries go on top, looks like I missed a tiny piece of stem. Oh well, good for digestion!

At last the streusel topping goes…on top!

Out of the oven. Serve immediately. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap or foil and store in the refrigerator. You could also prepare this in individual portions by using small ramekins (should fill about (8) 1/2 cup size) and bake for 20-22 minutes.

Blueberry streusel cobbler

Streusel topping:

  • 4 tbl. unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 2 tbl. cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose four
  • ½ cup Demera or light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. allspice

Mix all ingredients together. The topping will be crumbly. Set aside while you make the cobbler.

Cobbler:

  • 6 tbl. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 ½ -2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe streusel topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. Melt butter in an ovenproof baking dish and stir in the sugar, flour mixture and vanilla extract. It will be crumbly. Stir in the milk until just mixed together – it will have lumps. Top evenly with the blueberries and then sprinkle streusel on top of that. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.