Filled with peach curd redolent of roses and topped with a cloud of fresh basil whipped cream and a single nasturtium flower, these fairy food tarts celebrate summer in the south: the lightening bugs, juicy peaches, bounty at the market, and the long, sultry evenings. They are unique enough to remind me that life isn’t ever boring, that fruit and the tremulous energy that makes up all matter is itself quite magical, and that the alchemy of a homemade dessert is the province of good witches.
- 5 x tartlet shells, made with fully-baked buttery pastry or short crust of your choosing (see Note)
Peach curd (see Note)
- 3 large peaches peeled and pureed, about 1 heaping cup of peach puree
- ¼–1 tsp rosewater, to taste (see Note)
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1-2 lemons worth of juice 1-3 tbsp, to taste
Basil whipped cream (see Note)
- 4-5 large basil leaves torn into pieces
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Peel peaches with a paring knife, remove pit, and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.
To make curd, combine all ingredients except butter in a heat proof bowl and whisk constantly over a pot of simmering water, 20-30 minutes, until thickened and it coats back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in butter one tablespoon at a time. Strain curd through a mesh sieve (I skipped this step and didn’t mind, but straining will result in a finer texture) and chill. As noted below, it will thicken further as it chills.
Make whipped cream while the curd chills. Combine sugar and basil leaves in the bowl of a mini food processor and grind until completely combined to make “basil sugar”. This can also be accomplished with a mortar and pestle. Pour cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until soft peaks begin to form and slowly add basil sugar with the mixer running until the sugar is dissolved and you have stiff peaks.
Fill cooled pastry shells with the curd and either pipe or spoon the basil whipped cream on top. Garnish with edible flowers and basil leaves. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
• This recipe makes enough curd for about 5 tartlets or 1 full sized tart.
• The pastry shell is the one I’ve been using of late, from the wizard himself, Chef Keller. Recipe found here.
• You whip the curd for a healthy amount of time, 20-30 minutes, to get it quite thick. But remember that it will thicken further as it cools. Be tenacious. It’s worth it.
• Ease into the rosewater, maybe starting at as little as ¼ teaspoon, as a little goes a long way. I was overly zealous the first time (used perhaps a tablespoon?) but happen to be a mad flower eating sort so I didn’t mind, actually liked it. You might mind though, so easy does it and use it to taste. Tasting the curd is fun. Because it is good. So taste until it’s the way you like it.
• Basil whipped cream is wonderful. Make at your own risk. I ate so much straight out of the bowl I was worried I’d have to make more for the tarts. Also, for a less rustic presentation pipe your whipped cream if it pleases you. I, for one, used the “spoon method”.
• While magical decorated with edible flowers, they look lovely with just basil leaves and are delicious with nothing at all. That said, with prettily piped whipped cream and various edible flowers of all colors, these would be excellent fête fare.
Recipe from Local Milk by Beth Kirby, with photographs by Beth Kirby.