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Calling all tarts!

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I need your most fantastic, show stopping and hands-down-favorite tart recipe (please)! We're throwing a dinner party to welcome a new couple to our apartment building this coming weekend and I think a tart would be best as my bf will be commanding the kitchen the afternoon before the meal to prepare dinner. I'm pretty sure he's doing an asian style preparation of duck so I suppose I *could* take that into consideration when choosing my dessert recipe. But frankly, I don't care that much... I just want it to be fabulous enough to be everyone's favorite! Can you help me? I can return the favor with a recipe for my most recent fancy dessert success (a "party pavlova") if you're interested... TIA!

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  1. It's definitely not seasonal, but my favorite show-stopping tart is a caramel custard with chocolate chunks from Emily Luchetti's Passion for Desserts. If you're not afraid of making caramel, it's pretty easy. I don't have the recipe in front of me, but let me know if you want me to paraphrase it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cyberroo

      oooh, that sounds amazing! I'd definitely be interested if you have the time to paraphrase it in the next few days...

    2. Fresh fruit tarts are always a show stopper. Especially when the season is ripe with certain fruits...like berries or peaches or both. The traditional Pate Brisee is easy, filled with pastry cream (or a lighter sweetened cream cheese), topped with lucious fruits glistening with an apricot glaze. It look pretty and it's amazing to eat.

      1. I have a tart recipe where the bottom layer is a shortbread, middle like a caramelized pecan pie, top ganache. You drizzle even lines of white chocolate across the top and pull a toothpick through it for a pretty top. I can hunt it up and post it, if you want. It looks impressive and tastes great. For something more seasonal, I have a cream cheese tart that I top w/ lemon curd that's really good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Thanks chowser, they both sound amazing. I'd ask you for both but i know that's a lot of paraphrasing work, so could I trouble you for the pecan pie one? I appreciate your help!

          1. re: LAcupcake

            Luckily, I found it online (thank google):

            http://www.catalunatics.com/cooking/d...

            Just before the chocolate sets, I drizzled parallel lines of white chocolate and drew a toothpick through.

        2. Here's a recipe I've made before for a Pear and Hazelnut Frangipane tart. It's fairly labor intensive but boy was it a memorable dessert! It would likely go well with the duck and be terrific served with a dessert wine like a fruity sauternes.
          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

          4 Replies
          1. re: ExercisetoEat

            As I've been looking for tart recipes I've run across frangipane variations several times but I wasn't sure exactly what it was. Is it similar to a marizpan like texture? Thanks for your help!

            1. re: LAcupcake

              Yes, I would say it is pretty similar to a marizpan texture. If you look at the picture in the link you can see that the filling will puff up around the fruit and provide sort of a spongy/gritty (in a good way) complement to the soft fruit. The apricot glaze is a great finishing touch.

              1. re: LAcupcake

                Here is another frangipane tart thart which is both not labor labor intentensive (though I do make a hake a homemade crust) and uses fruit at the height of the season. Its filling also has as a marzipan-like texture.

              2. re: ExercisetoEat

                I concur with the Pear and Hazelnut tart. I made it once during pear season last year and The Boy has been begging for a repeat ever since.

              3. I don't know if you are looking for savory or sweet, but this recipe, for a "Fresh Fig, Mascarpone and Pesto Torte," is excellent!

                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                1 Reply
                1. re: DanaB

                  I'm in charge of dessert for this go round but I'll definitely save this for a future get together... figs are my absolute favorite!

                2. Dark Chocolate Tart with Orange and Toasted Almonds? I can send you the recipe with my adjustments. I've made this at least a hundred times, it takes two days but not too much time other than chilling, etc. It's a guaranteed winner.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: delaneymae

                    Ooooh, please do post the recipe! That sounds wonderful.

                    1. re: delaneymae

                      oh yes, please please please post the recipe if you have time! I looked for orange tart recipes (i think it would follow duck well) but nothing sounded that appealing. This sounds amazing!

                      1. re: LAcupcake

                        Dark Chocolate and Orange Tart with Toasted Almonds

                        For candied orange peel: remove peel from two large washed-and-dried oranges in thick strips. Slice strips to matchstick size, place in small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cook 30 seconds, drain. Return to saucepan, add 1/2 c. sugar and 4 T. water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until peel is translucent and syrup is thick, about 20 minutes. Watch closely after 15 mins, don't let it burn! Transfer peel to piece of waxed paper. (I recommend making this a day ahead, maybe while your tart dough is chilling?)

                        For Tart crust:
                        In food processor, process 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp), 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 t. cinnamon and 1/4 t. salt until smooth. Add 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, process until evenly combined. Add 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and process until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to a day.
                        Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 11-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper, invert dough over 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Peel off paper. Press dough into pan on all sides and bottom, using overhang to create double-thick sides. Prick all over with fork. Chill 30 mins.
                        Bake crust @ 375 degrees until sides look dry and bottom looks bubbly, checking after 9 mins. Cool on rack. (You may want to press some fallen sides up with a spoon before the crust cools completely.)

                        For filling:
                        Toss 1 cup slivered toasted almonds (coarsely chopped) (slivered not sliced!!) with 2 t. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon. Chop candied orange peel (reserve two or three pretty pieces for garnish) and add to almond mixture.
                        Place 1 1/2 c. heavy cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat, stir in 12 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate. Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur). Pour a little bit of the chocolate over the almond mixture, just to hold it together, then spread almond mixture evenly over crust. Pour remaining chocolate evenly over almond mixture. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with reserved orange peel strips.

                        Ya'll, you'll bring the house down with this one, it has never failed me. I think it would be inappropriate to report all the profane things that my family calls this tart. Just trust me.

                    2. Something for the Summer, I love this Lemon Blueberry Tart! It's a nice change from chocolate...

                      http://flickr.com/photos/71363164@N00...

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                      --Dommy!

                      1. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and suggestions... I don't know how I would get through dinner parties without the help of fellow CHers! I am currently waiting for my orange and chocolate tart to set (thanks delaneymae!) and I expect it to knock em dead. I also made mini tarts for a picnic tomorrow using chowser's suggestion of cheesecake and lemon (I did a marscapone nobake cheesecake layer topped with lemon curd)! And as I promised, for anyone who's interested, here is my last successful fancy dessert recipe for anyone who'd like it:

                        Pavlova (Meringue Cake)

                        For the cake:
                        Six large egg whites (or five extra large) at room temperature
                        1 ½ cups superfine baker’s sugar
                        1/8 tsp salt
                        1/8 tsp cream of tartar
                        1 ½ tsp cornstarch
                        1 Tbs red wine vinegar (or raspberry or white wine vinegar)
                        1 tsp vanilla extract
                        ¼ cup boiling water

                        Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (do not use a greased cookie sheet as any grease will keep your meringue from rising) and trace the outline of a nine inch circular cake pan with a pencil. Then flip the paper over so that you have a nine inch circle outline but the pencil won’t touch the meringue. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your mixer bowl and whisk by rubbing them down with half a lemon (to get rid of any possible oil residue). Mix sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, slowly start beating the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. When this mixture begins to get foamy (after a minute or so), add the sugar mixture, the vinegar and the vanilla and turn up the speed to really start beating the egg whites. As they begin to get fluffy, pour in the boiling water all at once and keep beating (for about 5 minutes or so) until the meringue gets glossy and forms stiff peaks. Spoon the meringue out onto your parchment paper with the traced circle and use a spatula (offset works best if you have one) to spread the mixture out into a circular cake shape. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes and then turn the oven down to 200 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes. Then turn off the oven (do not open the door) and let the cake cool down for one hour. Remove and let cool all the way before you remove the parchment. You can make this portion the night before if you keep it covered (I usually use an inverted bowl or large Tupperware to cover it).

                        For the topping:
                        1 pint heavy whipping cream
                        1 – 2 Tbs sugar (you can use brown, regular or superfine)
                        1 tsp powdered gelatin
                        ¼ - 1/3 cup liquor*
                        2- 3 cups of fruit
                        ½ cup nuts (optional)

                        Heat the liquor until warm and then stir in the gelatin to dissolve. Whip the cream and sugar until it holds stiff peaks and then fold in the liquor mixture. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours so that gelatin will firm up (this keeps your cream from being too runny and helps it hold the fruit).

                        *Note: I use amaretto and then choose sliced almonds as my nuts but you can get creative and do all sorts of combinations like add some cocoa powder and use Godiva liquor and chocolate shavings instead of nuts. Or you could use dark rum and tropical fruits and toasted coconut. Or a berry liquor with blackberries and pecans. You get the idea.

                        To assemble:
                        Plate the meringue cake on whatever dish on which you’d like to serve it. Spread with your cream mixture and top with berries, nuts, chocolate or whatever else you’ve chosen. Use a serrated knife to cut and serve the cake. It is best assembled just prior to serving (the cream and take the crunch out of the meringue if refrigerated too long). Enjoy!