Monday, July 29, 2013

Crustless almond melon tarts

These almond tarts hardly take over half an hour to make because they are crustless. I suddenly found that this way I like them way more that the classic version in short pastry shells. You can use more traditional apples, pears or cherries instead of melon. I never thought about using melon here before a month ago. Turned out that it does a great job here, everybody seems to love the dessert, but I'll better tell you the whole story.

Last month has brought so many changes into my life that after being silent for a while I'm not sure where to start telling. I'm on a long summer break from my regular Moscow cooking classes. They kept me busy for one and a half years since I quit my consulting job. Through this time I kept thinking about many other projects I wanted to start. In the summer as always the demand for cooking classes went down and it felt like a chance.

I started getting involved in everything I saw interesting. I wrote my first article to Gastronom food magazine. Second one in on the way and so is one for Seasons magazine. I wrote a book. A true cookbook of mine, which I'm now working to get published first in Russian and then hopefully in English. Shortly in August I'm going to Calabria to develop a gastronomic tour around the region.

I fell in love. Suddenly and instantly this changed my life so much that it feels like, say, moving to a new country. It's so hard to believe that we met less than a month ago. That was him by the way who suggested melon. That was also him who made these beautiful pictures. We made the dessert at a recent Spanish cooking class at FatDuck and then at our special dinner at Prostie Veshi gastropub and wine bar. Hosting such a dinner was another entirely new experience for me. And I couldn't help getting surprised how unanimously positive the reaction to these almond tarts was. So let me finally stop these endless talks and share the recipe with you.

Crustless almond melon tarts

serves 8

200 g ripe cantaloupe melon (cherries or pears also do a great job here)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons ground almonds
1 tablespoon icing sugar
2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Almond custard (frangipane):
150 g soft unsalted butter
150 g sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
150 g ground almonds
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon port or sherry
1/2 teaspoon bitter almond extract

Peel, deseed and slice the melon 4 mm thick.

Brush individual tart pans (muffin pans will also do) with melted butter and dust them with ground almonds.

Combine butter, salt, sugar, ground almonds, eggs, flour, port and almond extract in a food processor. Process until combined, do not overmix.

Divide almond mixture among the tart shells. Arrange melon slices on top. Sieve icing sugar over and sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes until the tarts are set and golden on top. Let cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Take out of the pans and serve. A slice of fresh chilled melon makes a good compliment.


Tarte aux poires normande (French pear almond tart)
Turkish baked halva (sicak helva)
Moroccan dates with pistachio marzipan
Spanish churros


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