Sunday, March 10, 2013

Medieval Cooking, pt. 3, Dessert & Drinks

First, I'd like to give a belated shout out. On the 6th and 8th of March respectively, the two most beautiful women I know (my grandmom and my mom) celebrated happy birthdays. Love you two ladies!

Fruit Tarts with Raisins, Apples, and Pine Nuts
Being in a birthday-celebrating mood, the next thing to try out for the Game of Thrones dinner was a dessert. My original intention was to make apricot tarts but since apricots weren't available at the grocery I combined the fruit tart concept with the filling from another A Feast of Ice and Fire recipe: the Buns with Raisins, Apples, and Pine Nuts.

On my first attempt (pictured) I added spiced almond milk before baking, per the instructions on the Apricot Tart recipe. They came out pretty well, but to add some sweetness to please a modern palate, I thought I'd try it again with an almond milk caramel sauce instead. Here's where I finally ended up, with the version I'll make for premiere night.

Ingredients (makes four 4-inch tarts):

For the pastry dough (use any Medieval Pastry Dough recipe)------------
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
For the filling------------
  • 1 braeburn apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp poudre douce

For the pastry dough: Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add the saffron strands to the water and let some of the flavor get drawn out. In a large mixing bowl, mash the flour into the butter with a fork or pastry blender until the butter is broken up into small pieces (no larger than a pea). Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg yolks and saffron-water. Combine with a fork then continue to knead the dough by hand until it becomes the pliable consistency of pastry dough. If your dough is too flaky, add water 1 tsp at a time and continue kneading.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball by hand, then roll the balls out into sheets using a floured rolling pin. Ideally the rolled-out dough should be 1/8 inch thick. Take the rolled-out sheets and place them in 4 inch tart pans.

Next you will need to pre-bake the crusts. Poke lots of holes in the bottoms with a fork to prevent bubbling, and put them in the oven for about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them and don't let them start to brown yet. When finished, set aside.

For the tart filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

In a bowl, mix together the chopped apples, raisins, pine nuts, and poudre douce until everything is evenly coated in the spices. Fill each pre-baked tart shell with the fruit mixture, level with the top of the tart pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crusts are slightly brown. While the tarts are baking, begin making the caramel. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the almond milk and raw sugar. Bring it to a rolling boil, stirring constantly with a spatula for about 5 minutes. Don't let it burn during that time. Let the caramel cool for a few minutes to check the consistency; when it's just right, it should be a soft caramel sauce, dark and easy to pour at room temp but not liquid or runny.

Remove the tarts from the oven and place on cooling racks. When cool enough to touch, remove the tarts from the tart pans, and pour the caramel over the filling in each, dividing it evenly among them. Continue letting the tarts cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Wine and Beer
Disclaimer: I'm a total sucker for good label design, fantasy themes, and red wine.

While browsing the wine selection at Harris Teeter last week, Brendan and I found a wine that combines all three of those elements: Once Upon A Vine's Big Bad Red Blend. It's a good medium-bodied red that I think would pair well with most non-sweet hearty dishes, and it's definitely a good buy in the $10-$12 price range.

Of course we also have to serve beer, and we've got some delicious home brewed stout. I've mentioned before that Brendan makes beer, and our most recent batch (based on a Mackeson Triple Stout clone recipe) will be perfect for the theme.


  1. Ugh, I can't wait for the premiere! All of your photos look like they're straight out of Bon Appetit magazine...

  2. I need more of these they were so good.

    1. And you shall have them! Muahahaha.

      I think they'll be even better when the caramel is made and poured in the same day. ;)

  3. What could you use in the tart if you have nut allergies?