For Valentines Day, I decided to have another Blumenthal adventure. Scouring the book for possible recipes, I came across one for Violet Tarts and was seduced by the image & idea – I love to play with colour! I scaled down the original recipe by a third but found out that it yielded far too much pastry which I only used half of. I’ve stated enough to make 12 tartlets (about a sixth of the original quantity). Thankfully, I managed to find a jar of crystallized violet petals in Waitrose.
After a wonderful & romantic day walking around Henley on Thames, my Boyfriend tackled dinner whilst I made dessert. Overnight petal infusion was required so unfortunately we weren’t able to savor this purple-treat. Instead I made up an experimental cherry chocolate tart – which looks better than it tastes…I was very impressed with dinner – pan fried salmon with root vegetable gratin, absolutely delicious! I love to cook but it’s so nice to be cooked for once in a while.
My hideously sweet cherry & chocolate tart
Anyway, I only managed to complete my tartlets this afternoon. However, I hadn’t read the recipe properly and realized that a vacuum chamber was needed…my violet syrup was runny & hadn’t caramelized at all! So I decided to turn it into a crème patisserie instead. My caramel looked more turquoise than violet and I probably changed the recipe significantly so that my tarts taste nothing like Blumenthal’s intentions. By adding more golden syrup than required masked the delicate violet flavour, but still had slight floral undertones. Nevertheless these were fun to make & tasted great. I’m tempted to try a rose version next time.
Violet Caramel Tarts
Adapted from Heston Blumenthal ‘The Big Fat Duck Cookbook’
10g unrefined caster sugar
85g T45 Flour (plain flour for pastry)
pinch of salt
½ a hard boiled egg yolk, passed through a fine sieve (this provides added bite)
15g whole milk
1. Cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy. Add the flour & salt and mix until incorporated into the butter.
2. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix to incorporate. Add the milk & mix until the mixture comes together as dough. Wrap in Clingfilm and chill overnight.
3. Place the dough on a cold surface and roll out to a thickness of 2mm. using a fluted ring cookie cutter (I used a flower shaped cutter) cut our circles of the dough and place these into a shallow cupcake pan. Prick lightly with a fork and place a piece of foil weighted down with a small coin. Chill for 30mins.
4. Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1. Bake the pastry shells for 15mins, then allow to cool and harden. Remove the foil & coins, then store in a cool dry place until needed.
60g crystallized violet petals (I only used 20g as violets are expensive)
0.2g malic acid (I used a drop of cider vinegar)
Place all the ingredients in a container and mix together using a hand-held blender, then over and refrigerate overnight. Pass through a fine chinois or sieve and set aside.
80g violet syrup
2 tbsp whipping cream
½ tsp unsalted butter
1 ½ tbsp inverted syrup (I used golden syrup)
1 egg yolk
½ tsp arrowroot
1. Place violet syrup, cream, butter, golden syrup in pan.
2. Gently bring to boil and simmer for 2-3mins. Remove from the heat and mix with a hand-held blender for 2 mins, or until well emulsified. ..(Then I read that the caramel had to be placed in a vacuum chamber, so improvisation was needed…)
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolk & arrowroot. Pour over cooled liquid, whisking, then put back into pan. Heat gently to thicken the caramel. Cool over ice bath and bring down to room temp, stirring continuously.
4. Pour violet caramel into the prepared pastry shells. Sprinkle crushed crystallized violets and fleur de sel.
Violet syrup, Making the caramel