A very special friend of mine was celebrating her birthday this month so, as soon as the challenge was announced, I started planning what I would bake for her. We are just entering mikan (mandarin orange) season here, so I easily settled on making a chocolate mikan crostata.
The pastry came together very well (recipe at the end of this post), I didn't encounter any difficulties while working with it. I blind-baked the pastry case and grated a layer of dark chocolate over the base while it was still warm. Once the chocolate had set, I filled the shell with my mikan custard:
Mikan Custard Filling:
- 3 large eggs
- 120g caster sugar
- juice and finely grated zest 6 mikan (mandarin oranges)
- juice 1/2 lemon
- 100ml double cream
- 60g dark chocolate, grated
- Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to line a 23cm loose-bottomed tart tin, leaving an overhang around the edges. Line the case with baking paper, fill with baking beans (I used uncooked rice), then blind-bake for 20 mins until golden. Remove the beans, then continue to cook for 10 mins until the base is also golden, cover the warm pastry case with the grated chocolate (it will melt) then set aside to cool. Chill briefly to set the chocolate. Reduce oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk the eggs and sugar well, then whisk in the juices, zest and cream. Scrape into a jug and set aside. Once the case is cool, trim the overhanging pastry.
- Carefully pour in the orange custard to the pastry case. Bake for 45-50 mins until the custard has just set, then cool in the tin. If you're making ahead, this can now be chilled overnight.
It went down well, from what I hear :-) And I was delighted that they saved me a slice so that I could taste it for myself the next day!
The pastry had been so straight-forward that, when I did a cooking demo earlier this week and found myself with half a jug of pumpkin pie filling left over, I decided to make another crostada - a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!
I'd never eaten pumpkin pie before, but it was really very, very good! And I had lots of pumpkin puree left over even after making the pie and ended up making some pumpkin swirl chocolate brownies... and pumpkin soup...
Pumpkin Pie Filling:
- 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 pack (200g) cream cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- Cream together the cheese and sugar until smooth.
- Beat in the pumpkin puree, followed by the eggs then the spices.
- Pour into the blind-baked pastry case and bake for 40 minutes at 180c.
You must make the pasta frolla using the recipe that I have provided here and use it as the base layer for a crostata.
You can make a crostata with fruit preserves (traditional) or pastry cream or any other filling of your choice. Here's where you can be creative!
The following times are approximate, as the time depends on your dexterity to cut the butter and work the dough (which should not be overworked) and your familiarity with the rolling pin.
- Preparing pasta frolla with a food processor takes 10-15 minutes
- Preparing pasta frolla without a food processor takes 20-25 minutes
- Allow the pasta frolla to chill thoroughly. I recommend at least two hours.
- Rolling the pasta frolla and assembling the crostata takes 25-30 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.
- Baking the crostata takes about 35 minutes, if you use fruit preserves.
Preparation time for other types of crostata vary. For example, making crostata with pastry cream requires the time to make pastry cream (25-30 minutes) and a longer baking time. If you make crostata with fresh fruit, you'll need time to prepare the fruit, besides the time needed to prepare pastry cream. In this case, you assemble the crostata after the crust is baked.
- bowls, as needed
- bench (or pastry) scraper
- rolling pin
- pastry brush
- 9 or 9.5-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1 inch [2.5 cm] high.
- 1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
- 1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
- a pinch of salt
- 1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- grated zest of half a lemon
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
Making pasta frolla by hand:
- Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
- Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
- Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
- Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
- Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
- Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
- Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.
Making pasta frolla with a food processor:
- Put sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest in the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
- Add butter and pulse a few times, until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
- Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface
- See step 3 above and continue as explained in the following steps (minus the lemon zest, which you have already added).