Saturday 30 June 2012

Impressively Easy Entertaining: Raspberry Crumble Tart

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A few weeks ago, the BF had a bunch of his med school friends over for dinner. All together, we made 8, which was a larger party than we'd done before and a bit of a stretch for our dishes (we have all sets of 6), and I'd never met most of these people, so I was a bit nervous.  But we planned way in advance, ordering wines online and choosing side dishes from one of our favorite dinner party cookbooks (I have photos, and will try to post a couple of our fave recipes soon), and I spent days trying to decide what to bake for dessert. 

Should I make something dependable, like cookies, or something more impressive, like a pie?  Something American, to show my British guests what we have to offer, or something English, to prove my loyalty, or something neutral?  Pumpkin pieSnickerdoodle blondiesCarrot cake?

Apple crisp?  I wanted to try something new, so I could share it here, but I was afraid to take too much of a risk when serving people I didn't know (this is more my mom's thing: she always tries out new recipes on dinner guests, but she's more confident than I).

Still, I kept coming back to a recipe I'd bookmarked months before, from a blog called Technicolor Kitchen.  The post title was something like 'the easiest tart you'll ever make', and since I haven't had the most amazing track record with tarts, I thought I'd give it a shot – anyway, we had some blackening bananas that I was going to make banana bread with as well, and if the tart failed we could always serve that as a back-up.

So I took a crack at it, and what d'ya know – it worked!  It was the easiest tart I'd ever made (one of the top 15 easiest desserts overall, I'd venture), and it looked beautiful.  Of course, since it was kind of a complete package, unlike cookies, I couldn't test the taste before serving it at the party, so I went ahead and made the banana bread anyway.  Needless to say, our dessert table looked pretty impressive:

But would it taste impressive?  Dinner went well: nearly all the food was eaten and there were many murmurs of appreciation, but all I could think about was whether my tart would live up to expectations.  Then came the moment of truth.  The tart served up beautifully, especially once topped with a dollop or two of freshly whipped cream.  And the first bite was... really tasty!  I have to admit, I was nervous, but I was really pleased.  And judging by how quickly everyone else finished his/her portion (I was the last person still eating), I think they were pleased too. 

Raspberry Crumble Tart
     adapted from Technicolor Kitchen

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter a 25cm (10in) removable-base tart pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together: 
     2 c flour
     1/2 c ground almonds
     1/2 tsp salt

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until light and creamy:
     1 c (225g) unsalted butter, room temp
     scant 3/4 c  sugar

Beat in:
     1 tsp vanilla

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture.  Stop when the ingredients are fully combined but the dough is still crumbly (this happens pretty quickly, so keep a close eye on the mixer – you don't want to overmix and end up with a big ball of dough!).  

Refrigerate 1-1.5 c of the dough (depending on how much topping you like) and pour the rest into the buttered pan.  Press the dough into the base and up the sides of the pan, making it as even as you can with your fingers.  Prick the base all over with a fork and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown (mine still puffed up quite a bit, but I just pressed it down with the back of a spoon while it was still warm – you could also use baking beans but it won't get as browned).

When the crust is baked, remove the pan from the oven (leave the oven on) and sprinkle on top:
     2-3 c fresh raspberries
     2-4 Tbsp sugar (use more or less depending on the sweetness of your berries and the extent of your sweet tooth)

Distribute the reserved, refrigerated dough over the top on the berries, then sprinkle with flaked almonds and bake 35-40 minutes, until the berries go all soft and juicy and the topping browns slightly.  Cool the tart completely on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.  Serve with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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