Finally the most torturous 365 days in recent history can be referred to in past tense and humanity has stepped into what one can only anticipate to be a more smooth sailing chapter. In short, happy new year! In conjunction with the new year and the accompanying notion of a fresh, clean start to old endeavours, I made some updates to the blog and a promise to myself to invest more time and energy into what truly matters and brings joy to me.
The first update is a recipe index! I deliberately didn’t create one when I started this blog because I wanted a linear reading experience without the distraction of excess pages and columns, but with the 50 odd posts that are currently up and plenty more to come, I have to admit that locating a specific recipe has become a needlessly time consuming task. I love how organized and aesthetically pleasing the layout is so please check it out and tell me what you think.
The second update is an option to sign up for newsletters! I understand that there are readers who do not have a WordPress account and cannot sign up for blog updates using the function that I had installed, so I’m taking matters into my own hands and sending out newsletters created and customized by yours truly. Click the link to receive updates on new blogposts and new site features – there will be much more of those this year.
And now I have to tell you about these tartlets, which I’m equally enthusiastic about. They have a crunchy praline layer on the bottom, followed by a praline-chocolate cream on top of which sits a disk of vanilla bean white chocolate ganache that is enveloped in a glaze studded with vanilla bean seeds. I’ve always wanted one of those mousse silicon moulds to make this sort of tart with its perfectly circular, dipped-in-the-shiniest glaze topping. Minimal yet impactful designs are guaranteed to catch my eye and have me obsessing over them until I adopt them in some manner. I’ve also been looking to pick up a new pastry technique so I was excited to embark on my first attempt at glazing, which is ridiculously fun and satisfying once you get the glaze to be the right pouring consistency. I might never frost a cake again. Every baker needs to join the club.
Vanilla Praline Tartlets
makes 5 three-inch tartlets
For the tart dough:
102 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams icing sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
64 grams unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 large egg yolk
For the praline:
150 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
100 grams sugar
50 grams water
For the crunchy praline layer:
100 grams praline
15 grams milk chocolate, melted
40 grams feuillantine (or crushed cornflakes to substitute)
For the praline milk chocolate cream:
10 grams milk
35 grams heavy cream
20 grams milk chocolate, chopped
1 gram gelatin leaf
70 grams praline
For the vanilla bean ganache:
250 grams heavy cream
100 grams white chocolate, chopped
1 gram gelatin leaf
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the vanilla bean glaze:
30 grams water
20 grams heavy cream
50 grams white chocolate, finely chopped
0.5 grams gelatin leaf
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Make the tart dough: Put the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the pieces of butter and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely. Add in the egg and pulse to combine. Shape the dough into a flat disc and cover with plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge for at least an hour.
Evenly roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s roughly 3~4mm thick. Divide the dough into portions, press firmly into the tartlet moulds and trim off any excess dough. Prick the bottom of the crust and return to the fridge for at least an hour. Bake at 170C for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the crust has taken on a golden brown color. Set aside to cool.
Make the vanilla bean ganache: Soften the gelatin leaf in water. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Pour over the white chocolate and let the mixture stand for about a minute before stirring until smooth. Stir in the softened gelatin leaf until combined. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Divide the ganache evenly amongst five cavities of a silicon mould each measuring 8 cm in diameter. Freeze overnight.
Make the praline: Toast the chopped walnuts at 180C for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes or so.
Combine the water and sugar in a large pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Without stirring, heat the mixture until it turns to a golden brown caramel. Stir in the walnuts, ensuring that they are evenly coated with the caramel. Scrape the caramel-nut mixture onto a silicon mat and let it cool and harden. Break up into chunks and process in a food processor until you get a nearly smooth paste.
Make the crunchy praline layer: Stir the praline, melted chocolate and feuillantine (or crushed cornflakes) together. Divide mixture evenly amongst the baked and cooled tart shells. Set aside.
Make the praline chocolate cream: Soak the gelatin leaf in water until softened. Heat the milk and cream to a simmer. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Let the mixture stand for about a minute then stir until homogenous. Add the gelatin and stir until combined. Stir in the praline. Pour mixture on top of the crunchy praline layer. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Refrigerate until the praline chocolate cream has firmed up.
Make the vanilla bean glaze: Soften the gelatin leaf in water. Heat the water and heavy cream in a microwavable glass jug until hot. Stir in the chopped chocolate, then the gelatin leaf until combined. Stir in the vanilla bean paste. Allow the glaze to cool until it thickens. You don’t want it to be too thin and runny or the ganache will peek through the translucency.
Assemble the tartlets: Retrieve the vanilla bean ganache from the freezer. Place the frozen rounds on a wire rack that sits atop a tray lined with plastic wrap (to make picking up the excess glaze to reuse easier). Working quickly, pour the glaze evenly each round and quickly use a spatula to even the tops. Allow any excess glaze to drip off. Place a round of ganache on top of each tart.