White Chocolate and Persimmon Tarts

Persimmons are also called Sharon fruit and they have a slightly honeyed and sweet taste. Their texture can vary from very firm (similar to an apple) to very soft, depending on how ripe they are. On top of being very flavoursome, they contain a good amount of beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium – an all round good fruit, as you can see. I remember my dad eating them when I was a kid. He would scoop them out from their skins with a spoon and eat the slightly stringy and supple flesh. I never really understood their charm until I found a feature on them in the BBC Food magazine, which is where the recipe below comes from (although slightly amended).

If you follow this blog, then you’ll also know I am very partial to pastry. In order to make these (I got at least 12 out of the quantities below), you’ll need small tart tins. However, if you don’t have them, don’t worry, just line a big tart tin instead. You will need to bake the custard for longer, then you can still decorate the top with persimmon slices. I kept the pastry very thin because I don’t like filling my mouth with pastry and compromising on the filling, but I shall leave that decision to you. Please allow plenty of chilling time in between baking the pastry to ensure it doesn’t shrink in the oven.

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Ingredients (for the pastry)

  • 150g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 90g golden caster sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp icy cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 400ml double cream
  • 300g white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 large eggs

Ingredients (for the topping)

  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 75ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 persimmons, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp pistachios, finely chopped

Method

  1. You can make the pastry by hand or in a food processor. If you opt for the latter, just whiz the dry ingredients with the butter first until you get a sandy consistency, then add the egg and the water (if necessary) and pulse until the pastry comes together. If you are doing it by hand, like I did, put the dry ingredients in a large bowl and combine, then add the chilled and cubed butter and use your fingertips to mix it in the dry mixture until you have a sandy consistency. Crack the egg in and use a round bladed knife to mix that in, adding the water 1 teaspoon at a time to ensure the pastry comes together but is not too wet. Tumble on a work surface and briefly knead the pastry, shape it into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm. Gently squash the pastry and transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
  2. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of slightly less than a pound coin, then line the small tart tins. I only have 4 so had to do this in batches. Trim the edges with a sharp knife, then gently press the edges of the pastry upwards so as to make it adhere to the fluted indentations on the sides. Prick the base with a fork, then chill the pastry cases in their tins for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C and place a baking sheet to warm up.
  3. Line the inside of the pastry cases with baking parchment, then fill with baking beans. Blind bake the pastry cases for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and parchment and bake for another 5 minutes, until fully cooked. Set aside to cool completely and repeat with the remaining pastry until you have 12 pastry shells.
  4. To make the filling, pour the cream into a saucepan and heat it up until boiling point. Place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl, then pour the hot cream onto it and stir to dissolve. Add the vanilla bean paste and leave aside to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  5. Add the eggs to the cream and chocolate mixture, then pour into a big jug (it will make your life easier when you need to fill the pastry cases). Lay the pastry cases onto a baking tray, then fill with the chocolate custard but leave approximately 5mm at the top. Bake for 11 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely.
  6. To prepare the topping, melt the sugar and vanilla bean paste in the water in a saucepan over high heat, then bring to the boil and let it bubble for 5 minutes until the mixture is syrupy. In the meantime, lay the persimmon slices onto silicon mats or baking parchment, then remove the hot syrup from the heat and use a pastry brush to gently coat the fruit slices. Allow to cool completely.
  7. To assemble the tarts, delicately place a glazed persimmon slice onto each tart, then sprinkle with the chopped pistachios. Enjoy!

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