Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dark chocolate tarts with red dragonfruit and blueberries

My love affair with dragonfruit is only recent. The first few experiences years ago left me unimpressed - I thought at the time, not much flavour for such a flashy exterior! I then had the fortune to try the fruit straight off the cactus plant on which it grows, at an exotic fruit farm in northern NSW... and WOW! So sweet and with a delicate perfume that excites the senses. When it's good - it's really good! It's a beautiful fruit to look at, a deep bright magenta inside and out. There are also smaller yellow-skinned white-flesh varieties - these are super sweet. Although the fruit is perfect when eaten alone and doesn't require any accompaniment or embellishment, I wanted to take advantage of that beautiful colour... and what better than with a decadent dark chocolate tart?! The pastry is full of almost bitter dark organic cocoa and the filling a creamy rich dark chocolate. Sugar is used very sparingly in this recipe, the key is to exhibit the complex flavours of chocolate, the berries and the dragonfruit… perfect with an espresso!

A few notes on preparation. The dragonfruit does not come in the ball shape shown in the photo above! To create the balls I used a 1/8 teaspoon measure to scoop balls out of the dragonfruit - more on this in the method section below. For those of you that have never made sweet pastry, the key is to keep all of the ingredients very cold, including the flour. I learned this the hard way, after serving hard pastry to my poor unsuspecting guests a couple of times! :)

Makes 400g pastry, I made this into 4*7cm tarts and 1*23cm tart (there is enough pastry for 16*7cm tarts, if you have enough tins)

1 large red-skinned red-fleshed dragonfruit
1 punnet blueberries (about 150g)

150g flour
25g good quality dark cocoa
pinch of salt
75g butter, cold
40g icing sugar
1 egg, beaten lightly

200g soy cream (dairy cream is ok if you prefer it)
50mL soy milk (dairy milk is ok if you prefer it)
150g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
4Tbsp rapardura sugar (you may add more, depending on your taste!)
1 egg

To prepare the pastry, mix the flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl. Add the cold butter and rub with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Incorporate the icing sugar and then the egg. Knead gently for a minute and then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the small tart tins, take little apricot-sized pieces of dough and roll out.

Line each tart tin and carefully trim the excess pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Prick the bottom of each tart with a fork and then refrigerate the tarts until the oven has preheated, at least 15 minutes. Then blind-bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through.

While the pastry is baking, prepare the filling. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan and heat until the chocolate has melted through. Cool slightly then stir in the egg but avoid whisking as it creates air bubbles.

Once the tarts are out of the oven, fill each tart with the chocolate mixture.

Bake the tarts at a low temperature (50C) for 15 minutes or until set. While the pastry is baking, prepare the dragonfruit. Peel the skin off the dragonfruit (no need to use a knife, it peels off like a banana). Using a semi-spherical metal 1/8 teaspoon measure as if it were a melon-baller, scoop small balls out of the dragonfruit.

Arrange the blueberries and dragonfruit balls on the tarts and serve immediately. Enjoy!