Passion Fruit Tartlets with Toasted Almond + Coconut Crust

Passion Fruit Tartlets with Toasted Almond + Coconut Crust

Summer has arrived; now is the time for beach days, barbecues, and rum drinks!  I've also started to notice more tropical fruits at the grocery store, which means I've got the chance to make some exciting variations on traditional treats.

This time, I tried out some passion fruit tartlets with toasted almond and coconut crusts.  I drew inspiration for these golden jewels from the traditional French tarte au citrone, a simple lemon curd tart.  Its appeal comes from its very bright, sweet, yet tart filling.  The luxurious curd is just solid enough to stand up when cut, but it instantly melts in your mouth.

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I substituted the lemon with passion fruit (and more sugar to balance it out), and I created a toasted almond and coconut shortcrust to add to the tropical flavor.  The crust was easy to manipulate, and it didn't shrink while baking as pâte sucrées often do.  The flavor was nutty, and the coconut gave it a unique, tender texture.  Meanwhile, the curd filling was very bright, creamy, and just sweet enough.  I was able to find passion fruit concentrate at my local grocery store in the hispanic foods section, but you could also make your own purée from fresh fruits.  The optional meringue topping added some nice contrast and a little more sweetness, if that's your thing.

Overall, these tarts are a fun twist on a classic, and they only take a couple of hours to make.  So if you're in the mood for something a little different, give them a try.

Passion Fruit Tarts with Toasted Almond + Coconut Crust

Yields six 3.75” round mini tarts

Ingredients

Toasted Almond + Coconut Crust
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut (Bob’s Red Mill or Let’s Do Organic!)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces; 1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 large egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons water

Passion Fruit Curd
1/2 cup liquid passion fruit concentrate or purée
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces; 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (optional: save the whites for a meringue topping)

Optional: Meringue Topping
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

Crust
Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Pour the sliced almonds onto an unlined baking sheet and toast them for 30-35 min, until lightly golden.  Stir them halfway through to flip them over.  Next, grind the toasted almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor on high speed until finely ground - at least 10 seconds.  You can also use a small spice grinder like this for a finer texture.  Then add the finely shredded coconut, flour, and salt and process for another 10 seconds on high speed.  Use a spatula to scrape up any of the mixture that may have been compacted into the corners of the bowl.  Next, add the cubed butter pieces and pulse repeatedly for a second each time until the mixture has a sandy texture.  In a small mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and water.  Then with the food processor running on low speed, pour in the egg mixture and combine until it just starts to lump together into a dough.  It will feel like clay when it’s ready, and it will be very crumbly, so you won’t be able to roll it out.

With lightly floured hands, press some dough into the sides of a mini tart pan.  Once the edges are filled, press a bit more dough onto the base of the pan until it's covered with about 1/4 inch thick layer.  Smooth out any bumps or seams, then cut any excess dough from the top edges.  Repeat with the other 5 pans.  There will be just enough crust, so be sure to pick up any scrap pieces of dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and freeze the prepared tarts crusts for about 10 minutes, until firm.  Once frozen, dock the base of each tart with a toothpick, then bake them on the center rack for 20 minutes, until golden brown.  They may puff up a little in the oven, so you can very gently press on them to help them deflate, if needed.  Allow them to cool completely (at least an hour) on top of a wire rack while still in the pans.  Then once cool to the touch, carefully invert the pans to release the tart shells.  Discard the pans and move on to your filling.

Curd
Set a fine mesh strainer on top of a large bowl and place it and a rubber spatula next to the stove.  In a small, non-reactive pot (see Note 1), heat the passion fruit concentrate (or purée), sugar, butter, eggs, and egg yolks over medium-low heat and whisk gently.  Once the butter has melted, whisk the mixture constantly until it thickens.  This will take 10 minutes or so, and you must whisk constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling inside the mixture.  The curd will be thick enough when it can just start to stand up on itself when you pull out the whisk and drizzle some of the curd onto itself.  Immediately pour the mixture through the mesh strainer and use the spatula to help press it through.  Discard any remaining solids left in the strainer.

Pour the still hot mixture into your cooled tart shells.  This recipe makes just enough curd for the six tart shells, so you’ll want to get every last drop out of the bowl with a spatula.  After you fill each shell just below the rim, gently shake the tarts back and forth to settle and flatten the surface of the curd.  Allow the tarts to completely set before cutting, about an hour.

Optional: Meringue Topping
Combine the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water (a bain marie), making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.  Whisk the mixture continuously while it heats up to 160°F.  Check the temperature frequently with a digital instant read thermometer or a clip-on candy thermometer.  It will only take a minute or two to get the mixture to temperature.  Once the mixture is heated through, remove it from the boiling water and wipe the condensation off of the bottom of the bowl.  Using a stand or hand mixer, whip the mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Then add the coconut extract and whip for a few seconds to combine.

Use an offset spatula to spread the mixture over each tart, or use a piping bag to create a more polished design.  You can also use a kitchen torch to gently toast the surface of the meringue, if desired.  Since the meringue was cooked in the bain marie, you don't have to worry about leaving it un-baked.

The tarts can be kept up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Notes

  1. You’ll need to use a non-reactive pot or saucepan for this step.  Use stainless steel or enamel, which don’t react to acids.  Do not use unlined copper, aluminum, or any pan with a deteriorated or flaking finish.
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