Lychee & Raspberry Tart
There's a lot of work in this elaborate designer tart - rich sweet pastry flavoured with rosewater, praline, an unsual lychee creme patissiere and tiny macaroons, plus fluffy mascarpone creme - so allow plenty of time.
- For the sweet pastry:
- 200g plain flour
- 80g icing sugar
- 100g salted butter, chilled and diced
- 2 large free-range egg yolks
- about 2 tbsp rosewater
- a little beaten egg, for brushing
- For the praline:
- 150g whole blanched almonds
- 100g caster sugar
- For the macaroons:
- 75g icing sugar, sifted
- 75g ground almonds
- 75g caster sugar
- 2 large free-range egg whites, at room temperature
- red edible food colouring gel
- For the lychee creme patissiere:
- 500ml full-fat milk
- 6 large free-range egg yolks, at room temperature
- 100g caster sugar
- 3 tbsp cornflour
- 25g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 x 425g tin lychees in light syrup, drained and finely chopped
- icing sugar, to sprinkle
- For the creme mascarpone:
- 1 large free-range egg, at room temperature
- 30g caster sugar
- 2 tsp raspberry liqueur
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 1/2 tsp agar flakes
- 175g mascarpone, well chilled
- To finish:
- 150g fresh raspberries
- 3 tbsp seedless (or sieved) raspberry jam, heated
1. To make pastry, put the flour and icing sugar into the bowl of a food-processor and 'pulse' a couple of times to combine. Add the diced butter and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. With the motor running, add the yolks and rosewater through the feed tube. Stop the machine when the dough comes together in a ball. If there are dry crumbswork in a little more rosewater. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the praline by putting the sugar and nuts into a medium-sized heavy-based pan and setting over a fairly low heat. Stir occassionally with a metal spoon until the sugar starts to melt. When all the sugar has melted turn up the heat to medium and cook until the mixture starts to colour, then stir gently until it turns a good chestnut-brown colour. Immediately pour onto a well-oiled baked sheet and leave to cool and set. When cold and set, crush or coarsely chop into pieces the size of your little fingernail. Set aside until needed.
3. Roll out the pastry on a floured worktop and use to line a 23cm deep loose-based flan tin. Prick the base and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.
4. Bake the pastry case 'blind' for 12-15 minutes then remove the paper and beans, lightly brush the inside of the pastry case with beaten egg then tip about half of the praline into the case and press onto the sides and base. Return the pastry case to the oven and bake for a further 10-12 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp. Leave to cool but do not turn out. Leave the oven on.
5. To make the macaroons, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds; set aside until needed. Gently heat the caster sugar with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water in a small pan until dissolved. Meanwhile, put the egg whites and a litle red colouring gel (just dip a cocktail stick into the small pot) into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Bring the sugar syrup to the boil and boil rapidly until it reaches 118c/245f on a sugar thermometer, then slowly pour onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream while whisking on full speed, to make a thick, glossy meringue. Continue whisking until the meringue cools to room temperature, then fold in the icing sugar mixture.
6. Spoon the meringue mixture into the piping bag fitted with the 2cm plain tube and pipe tiny macaroons - about 2.5cm across - on a lined baking sheet (you'll be able to pipe about 48 macaroons). Leave to stand for 15 minutes to form a crust, then bake for about 12 minutes until firm but not turning brown. Leave to cool on the sheet.
7. Next make the creme patissiere by heating the milk in a medium pan. Then set a heatproof bowl on a damp cloth (to stop it wobbling), add the egg yolks, sugar and conflour and whisk for a couple of minutes until smooth, light and thick. Whisk in the hot milk, then tip the whole lot back in the pan. Set over a medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture boils and thickens to make a smooth custard. Once the custard has thickened, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes before stirring in the butter and lychees. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle the surface with icing sugar to prevent a skin from forming, then cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
8. Meanwhile, make the creme mascarpone. Put the egg and sugar into a medium heatproof bowl and set over a pan of boiling water and whisk with an electric hand-held mixer until frothy and just slightly too hot for your finger to bear comfortably. Add the liqueur, rosewater and agar flakes, then continue whisking until the mixture is thick enough to leave a ribbon-like trail when the whisk is lifted; take care not to let the mixture get too hot and start to scramble. Remove the bowl, set it in iced water and mix until cold. Whisk in the mascarpone, the cover and chill until ready to assemble.
9. Lightly brush or paint each raspberry with hot raspberry jam and leave to set on a sheet of baking paper.
10. To assemble the tart, unmould the pastry case and set it on a serving platter. Stir the creme patissiere until creamy, then spoon into the pastry case and spread out evenly.
11. Carefully spread the creme mascarpone over the top of the creme patissiere. Arrange the glazed raspberries on top in straight parallel lines, leaving a raspberry's width between each line. Finish with the macaroons - you won't need them all - and rest of the praline. Serve as soon as possible; best eaten the same day.