Fresh Jujube Tart with Walnut Cream (Chinese Date Tart)
Lulu planted jujube trees 3 years ago and they didn't produce much fruit until this year. A jujube (also called Chinese date) is a little date-sized fruit that has a sweet smell and a flavor reminiscent of apples. In Asia, legend says that the scent of jujubes makes people fall in love. They are also a sign of fertility.
The fruits are so much more flavorful and sweet than the ones from our local market. In Vietnam, jujubes are eaten fresh as a snack. The girls have been going back and forth to the garden to pick the fruits from the trees. The crop is so huge this year; each branch holds at least 2 dozen jujubes. We've been asking friends and family to take some home, but we still had more, so I decided to try and make a dessert with some jujubes.
The texture of the fresh fruit is very similar to apples, so I adapted my tarte amandine and made it with walnuts and jujube instead. For a nice glossy look, I drizzled date syrup over the jujube tarts. It was the first time I tested the recipe and it worked wonderfully.
Yields: 1 dozen mini-tarts or 2 full-size tarts18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2-1/4 sticks), diced, + extra for greasing the molds
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon canola oil
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 whole eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon imitation brandy extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar, to taste
1-2/3 cups walnut powder (see tips), 5 ounces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 dozen jujubes
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
1/2 cup pure date syrup, warm
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the walnut pastry dough:
In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, place the powdered sugar. Sift all the dry ingredients, separately.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 1 whole egg with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It'll take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency must be very airy. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and the anise extracts. Stir well using a spatula. Set aside.
Lightly oil the bowl of your food processor with a silicone brush. Add the flour, 4 tablespoons walnut powder, salt and remaining powdered sugar. Blend for a few seconds, then add 10 tablespoons of cold butter. Pulse the mixture until it forms crumbs of butter and flour. Add the egg mixture. Pulse another 3-4 times until it forms a dough. Do NOT over-mix. Transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on top of the dough like a sandwich. Even out the dough using a rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Place the dough in 12 individual non-stick tart molds previously buttered (or in 2 9-inch pie pans). Prick the dough with a fork. Chill in the refrigerator.
For the walnut cream:
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 2 eggs with about 1/4 cup of sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam. It'll take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add the remaining vanilla and brandy extracts. Set aside.
Cream 8 tablespoons of butter (at room temperature) with the remaining sugar. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the remaining walnut powder. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Wash the jujubes, cut them in 6 wedges (no need to peel them). Transfer to a bowl. Coat each piece with lemon juice. (Sprinkle granulated sugar if the fruits aren't sweet enough, althought these didn't require it). Toss well.
Place about 2 tablespoons of walnut cream in the center of each tart shell. Top with about 2 jujubes (12 wedges). Place the jujube tartlets on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F for another 25 minutes.
In a bowl, dissolve the date syrup with about 1-1/2 tablespoons of water. Warm the syrup in the microwave.
Before glazing the tartlets, broil for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust. Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle each tartlet with 1 tablespoon of warm date syrup, for a nice glossy look.
Let the tartlets cool for a few minutes. Remove the shells from the molds. You can serve them warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of masala chai.
FYI: 1 cup of butter = 16 tablespoons = 2 sticks of butter.
The whiter the fresh jujubes are the sweeter. You can also ripen the fruits by putting them together with a banana in a paper lunch bag. If you wait longer, the color will turn into a rich red. You can also buy dried jujubes at any Asian store, they'll have a brownish red color.
You can either buy ready-made walnut powder, or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 5 ounces of whole walnuts to get the correct amount of powder. Grind the roasted* walnuts with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into walnut butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container. The result should be a fine mill.
I think it's best to make the walnut dough a day in advance. Store it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough will be easier to roll and won't be crumbly.
Rolling the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or silicon mats) eliminates the need for extra flour on the rolling surface, which can change the texture of the dough.
For easy clean-up and removal of the tarts from the molds, I like to line the molds with parchment paper prior to placing the dough.
A little reminder on how to roast nuts*: To release all the flavor and oil of the nuts, I like to roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 325°F before using them. The only nuts that I dry roast on the stove are pine nuts. They are smaller, cook more quickly and are much easier to watch and manipulate on the stove top.
I use McCormick anise extract. If you don't have any, you can use star anise seeds,. Dry roast them and grind them finely in a mortar and pestle.
I diluted the date syrup with 1-1/2 tablespoons of water (if you fancy some Brandy flavor, add a drop of brandy extract). I bought date syrup at my local market, but you can also find it online. You can also use it in baklava and other Asian and Middle Eastern desserts.
Published By: on October 13, 2009.