Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grape Tartlets

Recently I was given a whole bunch of grapes. Well technically it was several bunches, and was more than I could eat. So, since necessity is the mother of all invention, I decided to try an incorporate them into some baking. So here this tartlet recipe was born.

I decided to use the grapes to make a jam/jelly type thing, then used it to fill some homemade tart cases. The pastry creates a 'buttery biscuit base' similar to shortbread, but the jam is the highlight. I'd make it again just to use on its own as a jam or a dessert sauce. I never knew or expected grape jam to be so good. It's sweet but not overly so and has a smooth tangy grape flavour, reminds me a bit of rhubarb jam in that it's nice and earthy with a mild tartness. If I ever inherit more of those grapes they will end up being bottled for sure. I don't think this recipe would work so well with certain store bought grapes, especially seedless ones, as you want a strong robust flavoured grape, nothing too sweet or watery. I'm not sure of the variety I was given, but you can see them in the pic below. They were ideal.

I'm now really keen to look more into making jams and preserves, I've only ever dabbled in it. However, the amount of sugar you need in a lot of recipes is quite scary. But no worse than store bought stuff I guess. Plus it'd be quite a handy skill to have, especially when there is an abundance of seasonal produce.

Anyway enough rambling, onto the recipe!

(makes approx 42)

2 cups plain flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup (225g) salted butter, chilled and cut into small chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
(note: you can use unsalted butter, just add 3/4 tsp salt instead of 1/4)
1/4 cup ice cold water

4 cups (680g) grapes
4 cardamom pods, crushed
Juice of one lemon (approx 3 tablespoons)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used some mandarin sugar which added extra dimension)
Pinch salt

Make the dough:  Combine flour sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (see the pic).  Add the ice water, a little bit at a time, and mix until the dough holds together. Knead the dough into a ball or two then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Dough keeps well in fridge so you can even prepare it a day or two ahead.

Make the jam: Add the grapes and lemon juice to saucepan. Cook over high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently, you can even mash them with a potato masher or spoon to help grapes release their juices. Next, strain this mixture through a sieve (you should end up with just under 2 cups juice). Return the juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for approx 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool, stir occasionally. Will thicken up even more upon cooling.

Make the tartlets: Remove dough from fridge, use extra flour to dust and roll out to approx 3mm thick. Use an appropriate sized cutter to cut out disks to fit in the bottom of lightly greased muffin or cupcake pans (I use a 9cm cookie cutter).  Fill the dough cases with a bit of jam liquid, for my sized tarts I used 1 heaped teaspoon of jam. Just note: too much jam will result in it bubbling over.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-25 min at 190 Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).

Makes 42


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