This week I went tart crazy! I had an opportunity to cook for a friend who had surgery recently and who also happens to have a gluten intolerance. I cooked a full meal of stuffed bell peppers and rice, and for dessert I made these fruity tarts. The crust is gluten-free and made with almonds, walnuts, and cashews. It’s nutty, crunchy, and more flavorful than a traditional pastry crust in my humble opinion. The filling is passion fruit pastry cream.
You are probably familiar with passion fruit which can be found in juices, desserts, teas, and much more. This tropical fruit tastes a little bit like guava, but less intense, and it has a bit of tartness like kiwi. Growing up in El Salvador I became familiar with a few different kinds of granadillas, which is a general name for any fruit that resembles passion fruit. It looks like a maraca and it has pulp and seeds inside. I’ve been looking for fresh passion fruit to photograph and add to this post without much luck. My quest isn’t over yet though. But for now, frozen pulp will have to do. You can find it in Latino grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can use actual juice that has passion fruit in it.
I meant to make mango tarts to compliment the tropical flavor of the passion fruit, but my mangoes were not ripe enough, so I had to improvise and use other fruit I had in the fridge. As a cook you have to improvise all the time and make things work with what you have available. It’s impromptu experimentation that leads to new discoveries. My inspiration for part of the recipe was Pati Jinich’s Mango Tart, especially the apricot and wine glaze.
Passion Fruit Tart
1 ½ cups mix of nuts like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or pecans (peanuts are fine if you’re not allergic)
1 cup almond flour (or grind your own almonds)
¼ cup maple syrup or honey (sugar is fine, too)
¼ cup cold butter, cubed (½ stick of butter)
Passionfruit Pastry Cream:
½ cup milk (I had 2% in the fridge)
¾ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 egg yolks (I used the leftover yolks from this Swiss Meringue Recipe)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup thawed passionfruit pulp or juice
Any fruit you have available such as strawberries, mango, canned mandarin oranges, berries, kiwi, etc.
½ cup apricot jam
½ cup white wine or orange liqueur (you can use sub orange juice)
Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grind the nuts in a food processor. Next, add the rest of the crust ingredients and pulse until the mix gets crumbly. You do not want a ball of dough.
Use mini tart pans with removable rings. This mix makes 8 4 inch tarts or 1 large 10 inch tart.
Press some of the nut mix into the bottom and up the sides of each tart pan. Bake the crusts on a large cookie sheet for about 15-17 minutes or until slightly golden. Allow to cool completely in the pans.
You can work on the next two steps while the crusts are baking and cooling:
Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the apricot jam and wine. Mix to fully dissolve and simmer on low-medium heat until it reduces and becomes syrupy. This will take about 10 minutes. Cool and set aside. It thickens up a bit more when it cools.
Passionfruit Pastry Cream: In a bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Measure the milk and cream in a measuring cup and add the egg yolks. Whisk to combine the egg yolks and milk. Add the milk and egg mixture to the the sugar and cornstarch and whisk to combine. This is the easy method. No need to heat the milk first to temper the eggs.
Pour the cream mixture into a saucepan and set over medium heat and mix consistently with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Add the passionfruit pulp at the end and stir the cream a little more to incorporate into the cream. Cool and place in the fridge until ready to use.
To assemble your tarts, begin by filling the crusts with a couple of tablespoons of cream. Arrange the fruit on top however you wish. Have fun with the process. If making 1 large tart you may want to arrange sliced fruit in a circle starting from the edges and working your way towards the center.
Brush the fruit with the glaze. Refrigerate the tarts overnight to set. Gently remove cooled tarts from the tart rings before serving.
Light & Easy Peach Tart (Gluten Free)
Filling: About 2 cups of peach yogurt or greek yogurt mixed with a little honey (for 8 mini tarts)
Sliced peaches or plums
Glaze: ¼ cup honey & ¼ cup orange juice (no need to cook or reduce)
Follow the steps above to make the crusts for 8 tarts. Allow the baked crusts to cool to room temperature.
Fill each tart with yogurt and top with peaches and/or plums. Brush with honey/orange juice glaze. Sprinkle with some crushed nuts and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.