The Musette: spiced caramel tart

During the summer months we like inviting friends round for lazy Sunday lunches. You could call it a picnic on the terrace except that I can serve dishes I wouldn’t necessarily take to an extenal picnic, largely because of logistics. In keeping with the warm temperatures, I like to offer a selection of cold appetisers, main courses and desserts most of which can easily be prepared in advance, particularly the day before.

This spiced caramel tart recipe is simple to make, but the beautiful just-set texture of the filling elevates it to showstopper status. It looks innocent enough but really packs a flavour punch. Be sure to properly caramelise the sugar to achieve the required rich, deep and nutty flavour.

Ingredients (serves 10)

Sweet shortcrust pastry

  • 300g (2 3/4 cups) all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 200g (2 sticks, less 1 tbsp) ice-cold, unsalted butter
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 organic egg yolks, for egg wash

Spiced caramel filling

  • 150g (1 1/2 cup) caster (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 750ml (3 cups) cream
  • 3 sheets gelatine, (6g)

Method

1. Preheat an oven to 210°C/190°C Fan/(410°F)/gas mark 7. Lightly grease a 20cm (8″) loose-bottomed tart tin, sprinkle evenly with flour and set aside.

2. To make the pastry, combine the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can also do this in a mixing bowl by rubbing the flour and butter together using your fingers, then stirring in the sugar once a breadcrumb texture has been achieved). Continue to mix until the dough just starts to come together, then turn out and lightly knead until smooth – do not overwork, or the pastry will be tough.

3. Roll the pastry out to a 3mm thickness. Using your rolling pin, roll up the pastry and drape over the tart tin. Very gently press the pastry into the edges, using a rolled up scrap of pastry to assist you. Line with ovenproof cling film, baking paper or foil, fill with a blind-baking mixture (you can use rice, baking beads, coins whatever) and blind-bake for 15–17 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the blind-baking mixture and brush the tart with egg yolk – this will help to seal the case. Return to the oven for a few minutes until golden brown all over, then remove and allow to cool.

4. To make the filling, add the sugar, nutmeg and vanilla seeds into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Heat the cream in a separate saucepan and soften the gelatine in iced water.

5.  When the sugar has melted into a golden caramel, remove from the heat and pour in the warmed cream, whisking vigorously – take care as the hot caramel will spit.

6. Remove the gelatine from the water and squeeze out any excess liquid. Add to the caramel mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl set over an ice bath.

7. Once the mixture has cooled slightly, pour into the tart case and allow to set in the fridge (at least 4 hours but preferably overnight).

8. This sweet, rich tart needs no adornment but, if you feel the need………….just go ahead.

Sculpture Saturday #13

This equestrian statue of Louis XIII is made from marble and was done Jean-Pierre Cortot (1821). It’s been on duty in the centre of Square Louis-XIII (Place des Vosges) since 1825, replacing an earlier statue, commissioned by Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu which was destroyed during the French Revolution.

If you want to join in this challenge hosted by the Mind over Memory blogger:-

  • Share a photo of a sculpture
  • Link to the Mind over Memory’s post for Saturday Sculpture

Go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

The perfect present: goats on Zoom

I may have mentioned on more than one occasion that I’ve not seen much of my beloved, despite our close quarter’s confinement, other than at meal times. He’s become a Zoomster: webinars, panel discussions, meetings with colleagues, friends or family. I could barely hear myself think, so he was kicked out of the shared office to the spare desk in the lounge from whence he’s held court ever since!

I was idly scrolling through something, as you do, when I found this website. Bingo! I could get a goat to join my beloved on one of his interminable Zoom calls.

Now, in my view, there’s nothing that can’t be improved by the addition of a goat, preferably a baby goat. This would be a perfect present for my beloved and maybe yours?

Looking through the roster of goats from Cronkshaw Fold Farm in Rossendale, I’d be inclined to book Lisa for my beloved, I think they have a lot in common:-

Lisa is constantly hungry, angry and demanding – no surprise as her twin kids run riot in their pen daily, jumping all over her and demanding food. Lisa enjoys napping and drinking wine, though her kids rarely give her the chance to either.

What to expect from Lisa:

– Passive aggressive bleating

– Ferocious hunger

– Lack of any form of patience or tolerance of anything

If, on the other hand, I were to treat myself, I think I’d pick Terrance:-​​

According to his bio, Terrance is a sweet young man who just wants the quite life. He has to live in the lad pad with the other boys and tolerates their company.

What to expect from Terrance:

– A genuine desire for chin scratches

– A deep interest in what you have to say

– Soft velvety ears

Which goat would you pick?

What’s more, this is all in a good cause. The money will go towards installing renewable technologies on the farm. You’ll be doing something to help tackle climate change all the while you’re hanging out with the goats.  What a great idea!