(polvorón) cherry tartlets. These are no ordinary cherry tartlets, and it all lies in the crust. Inspired by my (authentic Mexican) polvorones, the whole wheat flour and pecans are toasted pre-baking. And my-oh-my, what a sweet treat it makes.
Ever since I made polvorones (otherwise known as Mexican wedding cakes) for Christmas, I have been dying to try out their essence as a tartlet crust. In recap, toasting the flour and pecans before incorporating the ingredients gives this (press in) crust an incredible aroma as soon as mixing with the butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract (preferably Mexican). All this even before hitting the oven.
And so these tartlets were born. I have made them twice, once with only cherries (taking advantage of their short winter appearance) and the second time incorporating some cranberries. Truth? I could not pick a favourite. The cranberries add a lovely tartness that complements the sweet polvorón crust wonderfully… but I am a real sucker for pure cherry-ness as well. So lets call it a (pretty great) tie.
I recommend making the crust not too thick, and while there is no real need to blind bake these (unlike with pâte brisée, these retain their shape quite well) do not forget to prick the base with a fork pre-baking. But if you are looking for a perfect tartlet, I suggest you blind bake them for half the time and then remove the waxed paper and beans for the remaining time.
Enjoy solo (as we all did), or pair with a good scoop of vanilla ice cream. I will definitely be making these again once summer cherries hit the shelves.
I also want to take this moment to wish you all a happy new year, and may 2013 bring true joy and happiness (!!!)
click through for recipe
for the polvorón crust
100 g (3/4 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
30 g (1 oz) pecans
50 g (7 TBS) powdered sugar*
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
70 g (5 TBS) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract (preferably Mexican)
for the cherry compote
1 kg (2.2 lb) cherries
45- 60 mL (3-4 TBS) agave nectar, to taste
60 mL (1/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
180 mL (3/4 cup) water
For the polvorón crust, toast the whole wheat pastry flour in a skillet over low heat, stirring constantly until fragrant and golden (10-12 minutes). Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool completely. Do the same with the pecans, but place in a food processor. Add the powdered sugar and pulse until finely ground. Add to the bowl with the toasted flour, add the cinnamon and salt and whisk thoroughly to combine.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the vanilla extract. Add to the flour and pecan mixture and with your hands rub until it comes together. I have found that at times it is necessary to add 1 tsp (or 2) of milk to make it come together (depending on the flour you use). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the cherry compote. Pit the cherries (without a cherry pitter you can do so by pressing them on a chopping board with a chef’s knife). In a pot, put the water and agave nectar to boil. Add the cherries and lemon juice and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 15-20 minutes). If doing half-half cherries and cranberries, add the cherries first and allow them to soften slightly (about 8 minutes), then add the cranberries and cook until they have all popped. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Press in the polvorón dough into four 12 cm (4.5 in) tartlet cases. Prick the bottom with a fork and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until lightly brown. Place on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To assemble, simply spoon a generous amount of the cherry compote onto the tartlets and serve solo, or accompanied by a good scoop of vanilla ice cream.
makes 4 x 12 cm tartlets
* I make my own powdered sugar by running evaporated cane juice (or organic cane sugar) through the blender until powdered.
IMPORTANT NOTE: while I provide measurements in both grams and cups throughout my recipes, I tend to favour weighing the ingredients for greater precision. Measuring by cups depends on too many variables (starting with how you pour the flour) and can be imprecise. I therefore highly suggest following the metric measurements for best results.