Let me just start this post by saying, that if you enjoy a buttery and nutty flavored pastry then this tartlet recipe is for you. If you like the taste and flavor of rye flour then you will enjoy this pastry.
I've been practicing making several different types of classical pastries at home but using whole grain based flours. They make a richer and more flavorful pastry base though they can be tricky to work with depending on the type of flour being used. In this pâte brisée recipe, rye worked just fine, I stuck with the , I did work as fast as possible and keeping things as cold as possible to get the butter mixed into the flour and keep gluten formation as minimal as possible. I used a little bit of vodka to provide the alcohol necessary to prevent gluten formation.
Cranberries have a natural tart and bitter flavor. I used sugar and red wine to balance the tartness but there was still the stubborn issue of its bitterness. Adding more sugar would be an obvious choice to hide the bitter taste but the filling would get too sweet and I didn't want that. Walnuts on the other hand, take away the bitterness and also make one rich and creamy cranberry filling (This cranberry walnut cream is delicious by itself and I think it would also be perfect as a holiday dip served with a little cheese on the side).
Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these tartlets,
- The trick to working with an all butter pastry crust such as the pâte brisée is to prevent gluten formation as much as you can and to get all that butter mixed into the flour as fast as possible. Ideally, pâte brisée is prepared by incorporating the butter into the flour with your fingers but a food processor really cuts back the time required to mix in the butter and also reduces gluten formation by reducing the amount of heat generated.
- To prepare ice-cold water, I take one or two ice cubes and dump them into about 1/2 cup of cold water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then I use the necessary amount of ice-cold water from this mixture.
- If you find the taste of an all rye flour pastry too intense, you can use an half and half mixture (5 ounces each) of all-purpose and rye flour. Everything else will remain the same.
- Marble and stainless steel surfaces are great to work pastry dough on. They stay cool and reduce the chances of the fat from melting and reduce gluten formation.
- Walnuts are a great way to get rid of the natural bitterness of cranberries and give a rich and creamy finish.
cranberry walnut cream whole-rye tartlets
yields: six 6 inch tartlets
whole-rye flour pâte brisée
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) whole-rye flour + a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
2 tablespoons ice-cold water
1 tablespoon vodka, ice cold
1. Attach the dough blade to the bowl of a food processor. Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl and pulse for a few seconds until the dough begins to form small crumbles. Pour in the water and vodka, and pulse until the dough is comes together. There should be no visible flecks of butter, it should be completely combined into the flour. Remove and transfer the dough to a clean surface and bring it together to form one large disc. Do this quickly and to reduce the chances of melting the butter with the heat of your hands. Wrap the disc tightly with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight.
2. After chilling the dough, unwrap and divide it into 6 equal parts. Take one part and wrap and keep the rest in the refrigerator. Using a scant amount of flour, roll out the dough into a 0.5 cm thick circle with a rolling pin. If the pastry begins to get too soft, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate for about 5-10 minutes until slightly firm. Line a six-inch tartlet ring with the pastry and trim the edges using a rolling pin. Smoothen the top surface of the edges with your fingers. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes before baking. Prepare the remaining five tartlets similarly. (At this point, you can also prepare all the tartlets and freeze them for 30 minutes, then wrap them with cling film, place them in an airtight container and return them to the freezer until ready to use).
3. To bake the tartlets, place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Place the tartlet shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the inner surface of each tartlet shell with parchment paper and then cover the surface with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process. Remove the tartlets from the oven and allow them to cool completely in the tartlet rings on the baking sheet. Remove the pie weights/beans and parchment paper lining the surface of the shell. Keep at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.
cranberry walnut cream
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/2 cup red wine (I used a merlot)
1 teaspoon lime juice, fresh
3/4 cup (5 7/25 ounces) brown sugar
1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, raw (with or without skin) (without skin will give a smoother cream)
1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
1. Place the cranberries, red wine, lime juice and sugar in a large thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high. Cover with a lid and cook for 7-8 minutes, stir occasionally. Once the sugar has melted and the cranberries have burst. Remove from stove.
2. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and blend for a few seconds until smooth. Clean the same saucepan and wipe dry. Remove and pass the pureéd cranberries through a sieve into the saucepan, Add the walnuts and vanilla to the pureéd cranberries and cook on medium-low for another 2 minutes with constant stirring. Remove from stove and transfer and blend the contents of the pan until smooth. Place the cranberry walnut cream in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use (You can also use an immersion blender to do both the blending steps)
Assembling the tartlets
1 tablespoon lime zest, fresh
1. Fill each tartlet shell with about 4-6 tablespoons of the cranberry walnut cream. Smoothen the surface with an offset spatula (dip the spatula in running hot water for a smooth finish).
2. Garnish with a little lime zest. Serve at room temperature.