Anya Fernald is probably best known for being the co-founder and CEO of Belcampo Meat Co., the world’s largest sustainable meat company, which owns everything from its animals to its own slaughterhouse to its own stores and restaurants where its meat is sold.
But leave it to me to get a review copy of her new cookbook “Home Cooked: Essential Recipes For A New Way To Cook” (Ten Speed Press), and to not make a meat-focused recipe, but a dessert one instead.
Because, yes, that’s how my sweet tooth rolls.
That’s not to say the book isn’t filled with tantalizing carnivore dishes. Having had the pleasure of eating Belcampo’s fare on a couple of occasions, I can attest that you taste the impeccable quality of the meat from the get-go. Because Belcampo raises its own animals, it makes a point to use every part so that nothing goes to waste. The recipes reflect that in everything from “Seared Lamb Heart Crudo” to “Chicken Hearts Cooked in Brown Butter” to “Toma Cheese with Green Herbs” to “Pork & Pepperoncino Sausage.”
But when Fernald writes in the book that “Jam Tartlets” is one of her most requested recipes, how could I resist?
Especially because this one is so versatile and so easy that you can make it on the fly when you need dessert in a hurry for unexpected guests or gatherings.
The soft dough comes together in a flash. Press it into the bottoms of muffin cups. There’s no need to roll it out or even chill it beforehand. Just stir it up in a bowl with a spoon and you are good to go.
The tart bottoms are parbaked before you pour over a simple custard made with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt or ricotta — whichever you may have on hand. Then, you add a dollop of jam on top of each one. Or a slice of nectarine, as I did on half the batch. Or whatever fruit you desire. Then, bake again until the filling sets up.
What you end up with is a dainty little tart you can eat out of hand. The tender, almost cookie-like tart bottom is buttery with a lovely hint of almond extract. The custard is almost like having a thin layer of cheesecake on top or the favorite center of a cheese danish. The edges will get a bit charred while baking, but in no way will the tartlets taste burnt. It’s more of a deeply caramelized flavor.
If you use jam, the tartlets will taste sweeter, of course, than if you just use fresh fruit.
They make for the perfect treat for breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea or dessert when you want just a little something sweet to end with.
Which is why I just had to make them first.
(Makes 12 tartlets or one 9-inch tart)
For the crust:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups “OO” flour, cake flour, or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
1 cup creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, or ricotta
2 tablespoons sugar or mild honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 tablespoons apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, flour, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Mix well with a spoon until it comes together into a crumbly dough.
Divide the dough evenly among the cups in the muffin tin, and using your fingertips, loosely press the dough into the pan. Don’t worry about making it perfect; it will meld together as it bakes (alternatively, if you are making one tart, press the dough into a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan). Transfer to the oven and bake until light golden brown, 10 minutes.
Make the filling: In a bowl, whisk together the creme fraiche, egg, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour the mixture into the parbaked crust, dividing evenly among the cups. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the apricot jam (if using a muffin tin) or spread the jam evenly over the top (if making one large tart).
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the custard puffs and is golden brown and the jam is beginning to caramelize, about 45 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then use an offset spatula to transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
From “Home Cooked” by Anya Fernald