Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bake off winning: Apricot & Walnut Caramel Tarts


The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.  ~ Andy Warhol

According to pop psychology most people are either Type A or Type B personalities.

Type A's being highly organised, time-conscious, stressed out, and competitive and Type B's being laid back, relaxed, casual and not having a single organisational bone in their bodies.  So it was rather hilarious, and not completely surprising, to discover over new years that the entire group of boys were, you guessed it, Type B, with their partners/wives/girlfriends all being exclusively and emphatically Type A.   Leave the boys to decide on what to do next and we are still sitting at the beach hours later.  Get the girls together and we're all planning out the next couple of days in minute detail: spreadsheets, packing lists and all.  It seems opposites do attract.

I think it would be hard to argue I am anything but Type A: I like everything neat and organised, things to be planned well in advance, getting to places way early. C in his more cheekier moments has dubbed it Type A.R.  But for a Type A, I don't think I'm that competitive.  I don't even like competitions and while being last is never fun, being first seems to me like an awful lot of pressure.

And I most definitely don't like being in bake off's.  If people actually like my baking that's enough of a win for me.  I leave it to the truly talented to enter in baking competitions and then go about collect the winning recipes to try.  Here is one of those winning recipes from a bake off C had at his work a wee while ago: Apricot and Walnut Caramel Tarts.




I've tweaked the recipe from Victoria (a colleague of C's) who originally adapted Jo Seagar's pecan pies to make Pecan Macadamia and Apricot Pies for their bake off.  The addition of dried apricots is pure genius.  I'm a huge fan of pecan pies but they are rather rich so the slightly tart, fruitiness of the dried apricots is the perfect counter balance for the buttery caramelly filling.

I used walnuts instead of pecans for my tarts (since that's all we had in the pantry) and added a good big pinch of sea salt to give the filling a salted caramel flavour.  Divine.



The pastry for the tart cases were also incredibly short, buttery, and crumbly.  That Jo Seagar sure knows how to bake!  I made mine a little too thick for fear of the filling leaking through but next time I'm going to press it out a little thinner to get a more delicate pastry case since they are baby tarts and we wanna get loads of filling into these puppies.

These tarts were a perfect substitute for fruit mince tarts at our Christmas gatherings and got gobbled up in no time.  Everyone went nuts over them. Can't wait to try them out again with different nut combinations and as bigger tarts!



Apricot and Walnut Caramel Tarts

Tweaked from recipe by Victoria.  Original recipe for baby pecan pies by Jo Seagar found here.

makes around 36 mini tarts

Pastry
250g butter
2 cups flour
1 cup icing sugar (132g)

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to mix until the pastry starts to clump around the blade.

2. Remove the dough from mixer and knead into log shape. Divide the log in half, then each half in to halves and halves again to get 16 even balls of dough.  Roll each ball to get a sphere.

3. Spray two 24 cup non-stick mini muffin tins with non stick baking spray.  Press each ball of dough into each cup to get a thin layer with a little lip over the top of the cup.

4. Chill the pastry cups in fridge for at least 30 mins.

Filling
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1/2 cup walnut halves (or pecans, macadamias, or almonds)
60g butter
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
big pinch sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC or 160oC fan bake.  Count out enough walnut halves to top all the tarts.  Chop the rest of the walnuts up and mix in with the dried apricots.  Divide the dried apricots/nuts evenly into chilled pastry cups.  Place a walnut half on top of each cup.

2. Melt the butter in a pyrex measuring jug then add the egg, vanilla, salt and sugar to the melted butter and whisk until it forms a smooth caramel sauce.

3. Pour the caramel sauce slowly into each case (around 1 teaspoon per case), being careful not to overfill (or underfill!).

4.  Bake at 180oC for 20- 25 mins or 160oC on fan bake for around 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling has set.  Leave the tarts to cool in tins for around 5mins.  To release each tart, twist the tops gently to loosen and put on a wire rack to cool completely.

9 comments:

  1. I'm type A and like you, I dislike competition. I'd be just as uncomfortable winning as losing. No spot light for me thanks!

    I like to think that I'm a leader without being bossy. I only lead because I'm surrounded by type B. If there were some more type A's around, I'd happily let them lead. I would keep my distance from a bakeoff and no matter what my friends and family tell me about about Masterchef, competition cooking is not my idea of a good time.

    These tarts are very cute with a universal appeal. The fruit has me thinking that we can pretend it's good for you :)

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  2. Oh Nessie this made me giggle! These tarts look delish, will have to try them :)

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  3. These look amazing! Yummmy, love the flavor combo.

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  4. You are right, apricot is a fantastic idea :) The pastry looks awesomely crumbly too.

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  5. Maybe I am A B and my husband and A... yes, I think so!

    In regard to your query on silver beet, it is very easy and you don't need a big garden, just a little corner in you garden and it will be happy :-)

    Ciao
    Alessandra

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  6. I'd like to be type B but have more than I'd care to admit of Type A in me! I love the fact you've tweaked this to suit yourself - I'm not sure I'd have the courage. It's a control thing which I just can't shake off however hard I try.

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  7. Wow they look fantastic!

    http://acupofmary.blogspot.com/

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  8. bunnyeatsdesign: So so true, having strict stereotypes is not terribly accurate when of course it really does depend on how you feel and who you are with no? I love how we justify our baking treats...I tell myself all the time "it has fruit, it's practically a salad"!!!

    Kat: Hehe glad you liked the post Kat!! Sound familiar??? :P

    Rachel @ Bakerita: Thanks heaps Rachel - you are so sweet! This flavour combo is noms but I can't wait to try new ones too....macadamias, pistachios, dried strawberries or cherries...oh my!

    Zo @ Two Spoons: That Jo Seagar is a pastry ninja!

    Alessandra: Hehe it's funny how it always seems to be one of each no?? Very excited to hear that you don't need a big garden. Now I just need a green thumb... :P

    Domestic Executive: It does seem to be so much cooler to be a B huh? Alas though, I'm an A through and through :) Totally know what you mean, I also find myself micromanaging everything! So hard to let go!

    Jagiri: Thanks lovely!! :)

    Mary: Thanks heaps Mary! :)

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