Plum Crumble Tart

Help! I can’t make a tart!! (Scroll down to TIPS for helpful info.)

A person who loves words is sometimes also an over-thinker. Take this, for example. When I consider the word “tart,” I’m not sure which comes to mind first: “tart” as in a one-crust pie usually baked in a pan with a removable bottom or “tart” as in, “Whooee, boys, those apples got me puckering up” or “tart” as in, “a female who is attractive and has the air of being promiscuous, even if she isn’t.” (Thanks, URBAN DICTIONARY, for that last definition.) Now, part of the problem is the English language. I don’t think “tarte” (tart in French) or “torte” (tart in German) or “tarta” (tart in Spanish) pose quite the same predicament. (Is my verb-subject agreement correct in that last sentence? You decide.) But it might and I just don’t know it. While I speak a little of all three of those languages (I can order a glass of white wine in nearly any tongue), fluent I’m not. This week’s post, all about a plum tart that needed baking one afternoon, had my brain not only trying to figure out a recipe for the darned thing, but also kept me awake (well, perhaps for a moment or two…) considering the word, “tart.”

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38 Power Foods, Week 19 — Kiwi — Quick Individual Kiwi Tarts with Gingersnap Crust

An ultra thin ginger snap smothered with hot pastry cream serves as the “crust.”

How the Quick Kiwi Tart with Gingersnap Crust came to be…

While I love to bake a pie as much as the next woman (more than most, I’d guess), I also like nearly instant desserts that are luscious and don’t wear out the soles of your trainers.  (Like after you’ve cooked for company all day and still need dessert.)  I have a pocketful of favorites like a 30-second pumpkin custard (it’ll be in my soup book) and a blink-done  individual chocolate flourless “cake.” I also have no-bake favorites like a strawberry ice cream parfait layered with crumbled ginger shortbread and fresh peaches. In cases of real emergencies, I buy ice cream and cones–and not just for the kids.

But today I needed a kiwi something.  Not exactly in my bailiwick; I use kiwi in fruit salads or the occasional smoothie.  I kept picturing the industrial size, looks/tastes-like-Paris fruit tarts they sell at Marigold Bakery and Cafe in Colorado Springs.   The perfectly trained pastry chef turned out racks of these tarts daily–as well as many other pastries and breads.  You can’t count on him to spell your best friend’s name right on her birthday cake, but you can count on a piece of a tart at 3pm with your coffee or a full tart at 8pm for emergency company.  If you order ahead, you can get 12 for your son’s rehearsal dinner.  In other words, you can depend on that tart.  It’s topped with all the glories of many kinds of fruit.  But it’s not spring; it’s not summer.  Berries are over and I don’t need a BIG tart at all.  I need a T-tiny tart… (as my fine old friend Susan Gimarc would say)   Well, one for me and one for Dave.  Maybe two for tomorrow, though he usually gets all dessert leftovers.  But that’s it.  Enter the very petite and quick “Kiwi Tart with Ginger Snap Crust” made in a small ramekin.  The crust for each tart is one gingersnap at the bottom of a ramekin or small bowl.  Topped with hot pastry cream, the cookie doesn’t crumble, but softens into a beautiful crust made for a spoon.   Here’s how:

quick individual kiwi tarts with ginger snap crust   makes 4

Make a small pan of vanilla pastry cream (crème patissière, which is very like vanilla pudding). Recipe below.

Place one thin gingersnap in the bottom of each of four ramekins.
These are my favorite gingersnaps.  (Except for my own, of course)

Spoon hot pastry cream into ramekins.

If not serving right away, cover each tart with plastic wrap (pressing plastic down to cream) to prevent a skin from forming on the pastry cream.  Refrigerate for up to one day.  Otherwise, let cool a few minutes, and then go to next step:

Stand 3-4 slices of peeled kiwi in the cream. (Optional:  Heat 1 tablespoon apricot jam in microwave and brush kiwi with it.)  Serve immediately with extra ginger snaps if desired.

Ingredients List: 
3 kiwi fruit; each peeled and cut into four thin slices
4 thin gingersnaps, store-bought or homemade ( I like Anna‘s Ginger Thins.)
Pastry cream (below)
Optional:  1 tablespoon apricot jam
pastry cream recipe 
               from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins*

  • 1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract**

In a heavy saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks. Place over low heat and, whisking, bring to a boil.  Cook another minute and remove from heat.  Stir in butter, salt, and vanilla extract.

*There are many pastry cream recipes, but a lot of them make a large amount of pastry cream and many more use a larger amount of egg yolks.  Use whichever you like best. This one has a very simple and streamlined process, is tasty, and makes just enough for these four tarts.  You could also, of course, use a low-fat, light pudding or custard recipe if needed.  Difference between pastry cream and vanilla pudding?  I can’t tell much, though sometimes vanilla pudding doesn’t have eggs.  The difference, however, between pastry cream and custard is that custard is 1.  thickened only with eggs (no cornstarch or flour) and is 2. cooked in a water bath (bain marie) in the oven, while pastry cream or vanilla pudding is a stove top process.

**You can also flavor pastry cream with a little brandy or Grand Marnier–try 1/2 teaspoon first and add a second 1/2 if needed.

about those kiwi

Calories:  108 calories per cup of kiwi

Kiwifruit is one of nature’s perfect foods: low in calories, high in energy and an excellent source of antioxidants. Each one delivers a world of nutrition benefits, including:

  • Vitamin C: Each serving of kiwifruit has nearly two-and-a-half times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C, proven to boost the immune system and fight the effects of stress and aging.
  • No fat: Kiwifruit is fat-free, an important consideration in today’s healthy diets and a rarity among foods containing so many other nutritional benefits.
  • Fiber: Two kiwifruit contain more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal, the tasty way to maintain heart health, regular digestion and lower cholesterol.
  • Potassium: A serving of California Kiwifruit has more potassium than a banana, ideal for maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and for releasing energy during exercise.
  • Antioxidants: Kiwifruit is an excellent source of antioxidants which are important in reducing your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  • Low glycemic index: With a glycemic index of 52, kiwifruit is a fat-free, low-carb fruit that’s safe for diabetics and a smart part of any weight-loss diet.
  • Magnesium: Two kiwifruit deliver 30 mg of magnesium, which improves nerve and muscle function while boosting your energy level.
  • Lutein: Kiwifruit contains the phytochemical lutein, which works to prevent age-related blindness and protect eyes from various kinds of damage.
  • Folate: With nearly 10% of the recommended daily value of folate, kiwifruit is a good way to protect the health of mother and baby during pregnancy while helping prevent birth defects.
  • Zinc: Men will appreciate kiwifruit’s zinc content, which helps produce testosterone, while everyone can enjoy its other benefits like healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails.

Vitamin E: Kiwifruit is one just a handful of fat-free sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps lower cholesterol and boost immunity. (Info and photo:  Courtesy California Kiwifruit Commission)  


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 Today I’m baking oatmeal chocolate chips for the reception after the Historic Organ Recital at Prospect Park United Methodist (where I work as a choir director).  It’s 7:30 tonight, Friday, October 19.  See you there.  A favorite activity, I did it last week, too…

  •   a blog repeat, but fun:
    Saturday, I baked oatmeal chocolate chips for the authors in town for Opus and Olives, one of the premiere literary events in the Twin Cities held each fall  at the Crown Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. (Mark Shriver said he’d eaten his six all in a row; he’d had no food in hours while traveling!)  Dave and I also went the banquet and enjoyed a fine meal with great folks while we listened to the each author speak.  (My favorite was Cheryl Strayed, but then again, I adored her book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.)

    Happy Tuck

    I also meet today for lunch with a wonderful editor/writer who I hope will be doing some editing on the book, 30 Soups in 30 Minutes.  This week– test on turnip soup (lovely–no details given away here) and lots of work in Microsoft Word, which isn’t nearly so fun as drumming up new soups in my kitchen.  Not sure we’ll be done with this little ditty by Christmas, but who knows?

    Sing a new song,

    A Valentine-Strawberry Hazelnut Shortbread Tart or He Let His People Go, but "my" Church is in Trouble

    In the background, the blare of MSNBC

    “Egypt IS free.”

    Gives new meaning to, actually puts on the other foot… “Let my people go,” doesn’t it?

    The long term fallout and where the sparks thrown by the revolution will land are questions to which we have no answer.  But the far-reaching waves are now on the way.

    Think of other revolutions and their impact and the trail they left.   Think China.  Think France.  Think The United States.  I can’t fathom the legacy of this…

    At the same time, my denomination, PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, USA), is on the verge of a long-coming crisis as a  letter, signed by 45 pastors (all male but one), pretty much proposes a number of our churches splitting off from the denomination.  There’s to be a meeting in August in Minneapolis and we’re invited to talk things over.  But, it also says our church is dying and other hard, cold part-truths. (I have to ask how much this pales compared to what’s happening in Egypt…)

    While I’m familiar with the problems of my church (a treacherous phrase), one of which is a disagreement over ordination standards ( mostly homosexual ordination), there are some other points of difficulty, one of which is a disagreement over the denomination owning buildings and properties.   This makes me wonder what is the critical point here.

    You can read a well-thought out and well-written response…

    Here is Rev. Margaret Aymer’s response...

    As Christians, we are already so split up all over the world.   I think there are more than 30,000 denominations.   If we keep splintering off, we’ll just be left with splinters.

    Church of the Beloved’s “Hope for a Tree Cut Down,” contains a song (“Peace”)  with the lyrics:

    We need each other more than we need to agree.

    I also freely admit I’ve worshiped with the UCC for the past two years, with the exception of several months in an ecumenical church where I worked as a choir director.

     Did you come for food?!!! 

    It’s just about Valentine’s Day and this is the perfect, simple dessert for your sweetie.  I can never figure out what to give Dave for any gift-giving occasion, but he’s always thrilled with a dessert; that’s his gift every year.  Sometimes I ask him what he wants and he tells me.  Other times, he says, “Surprise me.”  This was a surprise.  I let him cut a piece after lunch; it’s his tart.  Ok, this could go a few ways; let’s not go there.

    If you’re interested in what kind of wine to have for Valentine’s Day, read this from the Wall Street Journal.

    Add a little raspberry sorbet

    Strawberry Hazelnut Shortbread Tart serves 6-8

    Original Recipe from THE SPLENDID TABLE’S HOW TO EAT SUPPER by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift; I’ve changed several things to suit my pantry.

    • Zest of 1 Cutie (clementine) or 1/2 an orange
    • 1/4 whole or chopped hazelnuts
    • 3/4 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 c sugar
    • Generous pinch of salt
    • 6 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 chunks
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1/2 t vanilla extract
    • 2t fresh lemon juice 
    • 3/4 c strawberry jam 
    1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
    2. Add cutie zest and hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.  Pulse several times until ground finely.  Add flour, sugar, salt, butter, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
    3. Pulse until the pastry dough comes together.  Turn out into a buttered 9″ cake or tart pan. (I used a Corning Ware quiche pan; you need to lower heat to 375 F for glass or Corning Ware.) 
    4. Press pastry dough evenly into pan, pushing it up the sides about 1/2″.  Don’t worry if it looks ragged.
    5. Place in preheated oven for 12 minutes or so until it just begins to brown.
    6. Meantime, mix well the lemon juice and jam.
    7. Remove the browned tart shell from the oven and spread jam mixture evenly over the crust.  Increase oven heat to 500F and put tart back in the oven for 4-6 minutes until jam is bubbling.   Do not wait until the oven has reached 500; put it right in. Careful, jam (high sugar content) burns easily.
    8. Remove from oven and let cool a bit on a rack.
    9. Don’t slice hot, but warm (or cold) is fine.   Slice into wedges or squares.
    Tucker just a year ago. 

    Happy Valentine’s Day,