Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gluten-Free Tart Crust and Two Fillings

My husband's family all lives in town, and we celebrate everything with dinner. We all trade hosting duties. The host provides the main course and the rest of the guests provide the rest. There are only 9 adults who attend regularly these days, so it's a manageable size and everyone loves the entertainment that our toddler provides. One of the family has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease and tomorrow will be the first family celebration since then. We're all in agreement that we want to make a meal that the entire family can enjoy (rather than make a special, different meal for our celiac sufferer). I'm often on dessert duty and was excited to see what I could come up with. Though it would be easy to make a dessert that never would have had gluten in the first place, I wanted to experiment with a dessert that traditionally would contain the offending substance.

I can take no credit for the gluten-free tart crust recipe except for that of being able to find it on the Internet (via glutenfreegirl, I think). I wasn't sure if I should reproduce the recipe here or send people to its source at Hey, that tastes good! In the end, I decided to reproduce it here for convenience while giving full credit to Jill Elise (and her sources, The Joy of Cooking and Smitten Kitchen's version of Dorie Greenspan).

I was really impressed with how it came out. If I didn't know it was gluten-free, I couldn't guess. Maybe it's a bit crisper, but flavor-wise it's what I would expect from a pâte sablée.

My original plan was to fill this tart crust with the glorious raspberry tart inspired by Ruth Reichl's recipe in Tender at the Bone. The magic of the recipe she learned in France is that half the raspberries are baked into the tart and the other half are left raw and piled onto the tart. The combination of fresh raspberry and jammy cooked raspberry is divine. However, the recipe itself gave me problems. I consider myself an intermediate baker and a good direction-follower (in baking, anyway). Yet each time I made this tart, it refused to set in the middle. Enter Deborah Madison. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone has a prune tart that I thought would be easily and deliciously adapted to a raspberry tart, and I was right.

I've also had chocolate pie on the brain. Cook's Illustrated periodically tries to upsell me by sending me sample copies of their sister magazine Cook's Country. I find this magazine a bit too country for me, but this particular sample issue had a recipe for French Silk Chocolate Pie and I found my mouth watering. When our dinner gathering switched to brunch, I opted to change my tart to a chocolate one instead of having to procure raspberries from somewhere other than our favorite vendor at the farmers' market. The recipe is a bit of a pain in the ass because of all the time spent with a hand mixer over the stove, but I think it was worth it. Next time, I'd be tempted to add a slug of whisky (not sure where in the process, though, probably along with the eggs so the alcohol could cook out) or a bit of strong coffee.

GLUTEN-FREE TART CRUST
Most of the recipes at Hey, that tastes good! use a rice flour mix. I made up a bunch to have for family dinners. The only difference in the proportions I'm giving here is that I use all brown rice flour instead of a 50-50 mix of brown and white, mainly because I don't want to have two kinds of rice flour on hand. She does a combination for economical reasons, which would be more important to me if I needed to cook gluten-free all the time. You will only need 3/4 cup of the mix for the crust, so you may wish to halve her usual amounts.

RICE FLOUR MIX: 2 c. brown rice flour, 2/3 c. potato starch, 1/3 c. tapioca

The dough was quite sticky (perhaps I overprocessed) and made more than could fit in my removable-bottom tart pan, so you may want to keep aside some of the dough to make tartlets. Mmm, tartlets.

CRUST INGREDIENTS
3/4 c. rice flour mix
3/4 c. ground almonds (almond meal)
1/3 c. powdered sugar
large pinch of salt
scant 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
4 oz. (1/4 lb, 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS
  1. Pulse dry ingredients in a food processor briefly
  2. Add the cold, cubed butter to the food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarse with lumps the size of peas
  3. While the processor is running, add the beaten egg. Mix just until the dough comes together
  4. Pat the dough into your tart pan and prick it all over with a fork
  5. Freeze for half an hour (Note: I always want to use my Pyrex pan for tarts, but I love this freezing method to help prevent shrinking. I switched to my metal pan because I don't want to risk shattering by putting the Pyrex directly from the freezer into a hot oven. I may be over-cautious but I'd hate to risk it)
  6. While the dough is cooling, preheat the oven to 375 (I think that next time I'd do 350)
  7. When the dough is cooled, place a large, greased piece of aluminum foil on it, shiny side down (to prevent overbrowning)
  8. Place the tart pan on a baking tray (for convenience) and bake in the oven for 25 minutes
  9. If you're going to make the raspberry tart, remove tart crust from oven, take off the foil and cool. Proceed with raspberry tart recipe
  10. If you're making the chocolate tart, you will need to bake the crust completely. At the 25 minute mark, remove the foil and continue baking. Start with 10 minutes and increase as needed until the crust is golden brown all over. (It tends to be darker than a traditional crust, possibly because of the almonds). Cool and proceed with the chocolate tart recipe
RASPBERRY TART

INGREDIENTS
1 fully baked tart crust
4 c. raspberries, halved (it's okay for 2 c. of the raspberries to have been frozen, but do thaw them first. You really need fresh raspberries for the topping, though)
1/2 c. crème fraîche
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1 c. ground almonds (almond meal)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cover the bottom of your par-baked tart crust with 2 cups of raspberries (fresh or previously-frozen)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients
  4. Pour over the raspberries in the tart crust
  5. Bake until the custard is set (puffed and golden), about 35 minutes
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely (I like this tart best cold)
  7. Just before serving, heap the remaining 2 cups fresh raspberries on top of the tart
FRENCH CHOCOLATE SILK TART
You could also use just a regular (or gluten-free) pie crust instead of a tart crust

INGREDIENTS
1 fully-baked tart or pie shell
1 c. whipping cream (cold)
3/4 c. evaporated cane juice
2 TBSP water (hmm, I forgot this when I made it and it seemed to turn out okay)
8 oz. 70% (or more) cocoa chocolate (I used Theo's Jane Goodall bars)
1 TBSP vanilla extract
8 oz. (1/2 lb, 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and then refrigerate
  2. Melt the chocolate and set aside (I used the microwave and started with 2 minutes at 70% power)
  3. Set a small amount of water in the bottom of a double boiler to simmer
  4. In the top of the double boiler, combine the eggs, sugar and water and set on top of the barely-simmering water. Ensure that the bottom of the bowl does not make contact with the water
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat the eggs, water and sugar in the double boiler until it is thick and creamy. The temperature of the mixture needs to reach 160 degrees to make sure the eggs are absolutely safe. This took longer than the 7-10 minutes suggested by Cook's Country, possibly because I was too conservative with the water temperature
  6. Turn off the stove and remove the top of the double boiler to set it on a counter. Continue beating with the electric mixer until the custard is at room temperature and very fluffy, about 8 minutes
  7. Now add the chocolate and vanilla extract to the room temperature custard and mix until well-blended
  8. Beat in the softened butter, a few pieces at a time, until the mixture is glossy and smooth (I only had 7 TBSP of butter on hand and didn't miss the extra 1 TBSP at all)
  9. Now, fold in the chilled whipped cream until there are no white streaks left
  10. Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell. If there is any left over, just put it in little bowls to chill and eat as pudding later
  11. Refrigerate the tart and any pudding cups at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours
  12. Serve with whipped cream and garnish with fresh berries if in season (cherries, raspberries, strawberries, even blueberries would be good)

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