Nothing says I love you like a tart

A few months ago my friend Y made me a delicious starter of a baked fig stuffed with goats' cheese. Ever since then I've wanted to make a savoury little tart based on the same principal. A crisp polenta pastry shell filled with a goats' cheese custard and topped with a honey-glazed fig. Yum. After buying some fig-infused balsamic vinegar last week I even had the basis for a complimentary salad dressing. I was all set until, that is, Valentine's Day got in the way.

Firstly, when I came to buy the cheese I was seduced by the heart-shaped coeur Neufchatel rather than the non-seasonally shaped goat's cheese. Knowing that it would still pair with the figs I decided to forge ahead. However, my plan to make the tarts for Mr Almanzo's Belly on Thursday evening was scuppered when I was informed that I was going to have dinner cooked for me and of course I didn't refuse the offer. So, planning to make the little fellas on Saturday I went to buy my figs on Friday. Well, the people of North London are a romantic bunch. I can only imagine how many plump little figs sacrificed themselves as aphrodisiacs for the big night, and as a result there weren't any to be found for my little tarts.

Being the adaptable person that I am, I decided not to let the lovers of North London beat me and found some little golden apricots. Apricots are a great match with camembert and given that Neufchatel is quite similar I thought it would work well. In the end I was very pleased with the result. Given the time of year, the apricots didn't have their full plump summer flavour but topped with a little honey to bring out their sweetness they were still a good match for the flavoursome cheese. I decided to use a polenta pastry because I really enjoy the texture that the polenta creates. It makes a grainy and crispy crust which offers a satisfying contrast to the smoothness of the filling.

Once everyone has returned to being grumpy with each other and the the thought of performing seductive St. Valentine's rituals with figs has been long forgotten, I will definitely try a fig based tart. Until then, these are a great idea for a light lunch or starter.

Coeur Neufchatel and Apricot Tarts
200g plain flour
50g polenta
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg
pinch of salt

4 eggs
1/4pt milk
1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
1 coeur Neufchatel cheese crumbled/chopped into small pieces*
4 fresh apricots
salt and pepper

  1. I made the pastry by blitzing the flour, polenta and salt with the butter in a food processor until fine crumbs formed. I then added the egg and processed the pastry until it started to clump together. You can, of course, do it by hand. If you find the pastry is not binding you can add more beaten egg or even a little ice cold water/milk.

  2. Finish bringing the pastry together with your hands (don't over handle it though). Wrap it in cling film and chill for a couple of hours. You can do this further in advance if it makes life easier.

  3. Once the pastry has chilled, roll it out between two sheets of cling film. There will be enough for one 8 inch tin or about 6 mini tins.

  4. Line your tin(s) and chill for another hour or so.

  5. Prick the base of the tarts and pop baking beads or weights in the centre. Bake in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 10 minutes. Remove the baking beads and bake for a further 10 minutes at 180 degrees.

  6. Meanwhile make the filling. Beat your eggs with a fork and mix in the milk and cheese.

  7. Add the rosemary and mix gently. Season with the salt and pepper.

  8. Pour the cheesy mixture into the shell and top with your apricot halves/slices and add a dot of honey. Bake in the 180 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

* Stupidly I didn't weigh the cheese, but it was a standard whole coeur Neufchatel. To be honest you can probably be quite flexible with the amount you use, much like an omlette.


Tartelette said...

The tarts sound absolutely delicious. Apricots and fresh cheese are a great combination!

glamah16 said...

Oh Yeah!

Joy said...

I think the addition of fresh fruit actually negates the calories from the cheese as well!

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