Picture this – your friend is putting on a gourmet barbecue and asks you to bring dessert. Will a tub of icecream be enough? It’s delicious, but will it stand up to Sally’s home made bread and dips? Will it be trumped by Mark’s greek-style lamb? Time to call into your local bakery?
This summer, I’m sure we’ve all been to a few barbecues, and hopefully many more to come. And I’m sure we’ve brought things with varying levels of success. Hopefully the barbecue and picnic season will continue a little while longer, but dessert anxiety is unnecessary, especially when some impressive summer dishes can be made so easily.
The great thing about these recipes is that you can tailor them to any occasion, any season, any time of day. If you’ve got an afternoon barbecue, you can top these tarts with fresh strawberries or other fruit and voilà! Perhaps an evening barbecue deserves something a little sweeter – try the roasted nectarine topping. Or make cocktail (tiny) fruit tarts for a stand-around barbecue. Or bring a beautiful raspberry curd cheesecake for something a little bit different, or maybe some summer fruit semifreddo. Your options are endless, not fruitless.
The key to a great summer dessert is something that can be served chilled, and makes the most of the seasonal produce available. Feel free to change the toppings to suit your tastes. If you happen upon some beautiful mangoes, or cherries, or plums, simply slice those up and decorate over the tart or the cheesecake. A beautiful mixed fruit salad poured over the tart can look equally impressive.
I have made a few different sizes of these desserts to get your creative juices flowing and turn a barbecue nightmare into a success. Make the same quantity of pastry and cream to get 3 x 11cm tarts, or lots of little ones! Good luck and enjoy!
Note: Vanilla bean paste is available in supermarkets baking section. It is a great alternative to vanilla pods, and gives a beautiful authentic vanilla flavor.
- Tart Pastry:
- 1⅓ cups (200g) plain flour
- ½ cup (90g) icing sugar mixture
- 100g cold butter, diced
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Pastry cream:
- 250ml thickened cream
- 200ml milk
- ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 3 egg yolks
- 1.5 teaspoons cornflour
- 70g unsalted butter, chopped
- Roast Nectarine Topping:
- 6 ripe nectarines
- ¼ cup (60ml) orange juice
- ½ cup (110g) brown sugar
- Grease 23cm round loose based flan tin.
- For the pastry, place flour, sugar and butter in a food processor, and blend until it resembles fine crumbs.
- Add the egg yolk, and process until mixed. Add a little water at a time until it comes together in one ball. Wait between each addition for it to combine.
- Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Cover in glad wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile for the pastry cream, combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over a medium low heat, then remove from the heat.
- Beat egg yolks in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer until lighter, thick and creamy looking. Add cornflour and beat to combine.
- A little at a time, add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, beating in between additions.
- Pour mix back in to the milk saucepan, and stir over a low heat until it thickens and starts to boil. Remove from the heat.
- Add the butter and whisk until well combined.
- Transfer to cleaned medium bowl and cover the surface of the cream with glad wrap. Leave out to cool.
- Back to your pastry – remove from the fridge and roll out between two pieces of baking paper until it is slightly bigger than the flan tin.
- Peel back top piece of paper, carefully flip, and place down on top of flan tin. Ease pastry down into the tin, ensuring the pastry goes into the corners of the tin. Press pastry down over flan tin edges to neaten. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if you’re doing the nectarine topping, half nectarines and remove the stones. This is easiest if the fruit is ripe. If they’re not easily halving or the stones are not easily removing, microwave for 20-30 seconds each to soften the flesh. Allow to cool a little, as the juice will be hot.
- Preheat oven to 200degC.
- Place middle side up in a baking dish, and sprinkle with sugar. Pour over orange juice so that the sugar is covered, too. Mix a little if the sugar is not mixed with the orange juice.
- Roast in oven for 25 minutes, turning nectarines over after 10 minutes.
- When pastry time is up, cover tart with a piece of baking paper and fill with dried beans or rice, or pastry weights.
- When nectarines are finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 180degC.
- Place your tart pastry into the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove rice/beans/pastry weights and baking paper and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
- When all parts of the tart have cooled, spoon pastry cream into the case and smooth over with the back of a spoon or spatula. Allow to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until firm, then add nectarines whole or sliced, or any fruit of your choosing.
- Place on a cake stand and watch as people marvel at your brilliance.