Ginger Brûlée Tarts

We couldn’t resist sharing this bakery favourite from our first book! At the bakery, we use a 45% fat cream that is often hard to find in shops; the recipe below uses cream with a 35% fat content, which results in a softer brûlée filling. If you prefer, leave out the blowtorch step and serve the tarts simply filled with the ginger custard—just sprinkle a few pistachio nuts on top.

Ginger Brûlée Tarts
 
Ingredients
  • 720 ml (25 fl oz/3 cups) thin (pouring) cream (35% fat)
  • 5 cm (2-inch) piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 cardamom pod, bruised
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 80 g (2¾ oz/⅓ cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 20 x 8 cm (3¼-inch) blind-baked Sweet Shortcrust Pastry shells (recipe follows)
  • 1½ tablespoons pistachio nuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Put the cream, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon stick in a saucepan over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat, pour into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and chill overnight for the flavours to infuse.
  2. Reheat the cream mixture to simmering point in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl. Add the sugar and whisk for about 30 seconds, until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the infused cream through a fine sieve, discarding the spices, then whisk into the egg yolk mixture.
  4. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water.
  5. Stir with a whisk for 10 to 15 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and thick, scraping down the side of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula. You may need to stir a few minutes more to reach desired consisteny. Keep stirring at all times or the mixture will curdle.
  6. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for 2 minutes to cool. Over the next hour, whisk every 10 minutes until cooled. Clean the side of the bowl with a spatula, lay plastic wrap on the surface of the mixture and chill overnight to set. To cool faster, place over an ice water bath and stir frequently. This will cut down your chilling time to 25 minutes.
  7. Using a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain nozzle, pipe the custard into the cooled blind-baked pastry shells, just slightly overfilling each one. With a small pallet knife, scrape the custard so it’s flush with the top of the tart shells. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  8. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon caster sugar over the top of each tart and burn with a blowtorch to caramelise the top. (We used 2 teaspoons for better caramelization).
  9. Sprinkle a few pistachios on top to serve.
Notes
The ginger brûlée cream will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, but the filled tarts will not last longer than a day.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry (Sweet Pâte Brisée)
 
Yield can vary depending on the size of your tart pan(s) and how thin you roll out your dough. Makes one 28 cm (11¼-inch) tart, two 23 cm (9-inch) tarts, twelve 10 cm (4-inch) tarts, or twenty 8 cm (3¼-inch) tarts
Ingredients
  • 400 g (14 oz/1¾ cups) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1.5 cm (about ½-inch) cubes
  • 20 ml (½ fl oz/1 tablespoon) vinegar, chilled
  • 100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar, chilled
  • 170 ml (5½ fl oz/⅔ cup) water, chilled
  • 665 g (1 lb 7½ oz/5⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, chilled
  • 5 g (⅛ oz/1 teaspoon) salt
Instructions
  1. Remove the butter from the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start mixing—the butter should be just soft, but still very cold, so it doesn’t melt through the pastry while mixing.
  2. Put the vinegar, sugar and water in a bowl, stirring well.
  3. If mixing the dough by hand, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and toss the butter through. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine.
  4. If using a food processor (we recommend this method if using European butter), put the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor and add the butter, pulsing in one-second bursts about three or four times to partly combine. You should now have a floury mix through which you can see squashed pieces of butter.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean bench and gather together. Sprinkle with the sugar mixture and use the palm of your hand to ‘smear’ this mixture away from you across the bench (a pastry scraper is a useful tool here). Gather together again and repeat this smearing process twice more, before gathering the dough again. You may need to smear once or twice more to bring it together—you should still be able to see streaks of butter marbled through the pastry; this gives a slightly flaky texture to the final product.
  6. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape into two round, flat discs, 2 cm (¾ inch) thick. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  7. Working with one portion of pastry at a time, remove the pastry from the refrigerator a few minutes before you wish to roll it. Sprinkle a little flour on the bench and rub a little flour over a rolling pin. Working from the centre of the pastry, gently roll the dough away from you, then turn the dough about 30 degrees and roll out again.
  8. Repeat this process until you have a flat round disc, about 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick. Sprinkle extra flour over the bench and rolling pin as needed, but use it as sparingly as possible—if too much flour is absorbed into the dough, the pastry will end up with poor flavour and texture. Bear in mind that you are trying to flatten the pastry into a disc, not ferociously stretch it out in all directions. Stretching will only cause the pastry to shrink excessively during baking.
  9. Transfer the pastry to a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the gluten to relax.
  10. To make one 28 cm (11¼-inch) tart shell, roll out the pastry to 4 mm (3/16 inch) thick and cut it into a 30 cm (12-inch) disc.
  11. Knead the excess dough back together and roll it out again to get a few smaller discs to keep in the freezer.
  12. To make two 23 cm (9-inch) tart shells, roll out the pastry to 4 mm (3/16 inch) thick and cut it into a 25 cm (10-inch) disc.
  13. Knead the excess dough back together and roll it out again to get a second disc.
  14. To make twelve 10 cm (4-inch) tart shells, about 3.5 cm (1¼ inches) deep, roll out the pastry to 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick. Cut into eight or nine 15 cm (6-inch) discs. Knead the excess dough back together and roll it out again to get the balance of the 12 discs.
  15. To make twenty 8 cm (3¼-inch) tart shells, roll out the pastry to 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick. Cut into twelve 11 cm (4½-inch) discs. Knead the excess dough back together and roll it out again to get the balance of the 20 discs.
  16. At Bourke Street Bakery, we prefer to use loose-based tart tins and moulds, which have sides that are at an angle of about 90 degrees to the base. The right-angle offers more support than sloping sides and makes it easier to remove a fragile tart. Again, it is important not to stretch the dough when lining the tins.
Notes
This pastry will have a slightly uneven edge around the rim of the tin, resulting in a tart that looks rustic and home-made, which is what we aim for at Bourke Street Bakery. If you are after a perfectly even effect, this is not the pastry to use—this dough has water in it, which means it will shrink as the water evaporates during baking; the following method is to help counteract this shrinkage.

The number of tarts you end up with will vary, depending on how thinly the pastry is rolled. The pastry can be frozen for up to 2 months, so it makes sense to line all the shells with foil (ready to blind-bake), store them in the freezer, then blind-bake them as you need them. You do not need to thaw them first.

 

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