plantain tartelettes

I’m on a mission. A mission to make morsels of dessert that satisfy a sweet tooth without causing serious  overindulgence! After getting a plantain tart recipe at Easter from my cousins Peter and Karen, I was anxious to try it out. I had an idea to make tartelettes, mini-tarts filled with plantain. So I patiently waited for a plantain to ripen. Diana says they ripen on Jamaica time–it takes 7-10 days in a paper bag. My patience paid off and I finally got a ripe one.

Traditionally, the filling for plantain tarts is bright red. Unfortunately, the recipe  did not say how much red food coloring to use, so I decided to be conservative and try for a “dusty rose” shade. I merely succeeded in making it brown. Still, if it tastes like a plantain, then it must be a plantain. I did leave out the raisins–to me it’s sacrilegious to add any to a plantain tart.  The pastry, I must say,  is exquisite. It came out tender and flaky. However, I think  this filling could be more flavorful to go head to head with this pastry.

Plantain Tartelettes

2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
2-4 tablespoons iced water

1 cup ripe plantain, peeled and cut up
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon chopped raisins, optional
Red food coloring, optional

To make the filling:

  1. In a saucepan combine plantain, sugar, and water
  2. Cook over low heat until plantain is cooked through, about 5 minutes. The plantains will change from pinkish-orange when raw to deep yellow when cooked.
  3. Remove from heat and mash lightly. Add nutmeg, vanilla, butter, raisins if using, and red food coloring, if using. After adding 12 drops red and 4 drops blue, the plantain mixture turned dark brown.
  4. Allow filling to cool before filling tartelettes.

To make the pastry:

  1. Combine flour and salt with shortening and cut into pastry until flaky. Add iced water to bind together. [I used 2 tablespoons iced water.] Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured board to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 40 two-inch rounds. Cake Baker’s Tip: If the dough warms it may become difficult to handle. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it for at least 15 minutes. Use a flat blade spatula to lift each round off the cutting board.
  4. Spoon about 1/2  tablespoon cooled filling in the center of each round. Top with another pastry round and gently press the edges together. Crimp one side with the tines of a fork.
  5. Place tartelettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Brush tops of tartelettes  with a little milk.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 450˚F. Reduce heat to 350˚F and bake for 15-20 minutes. Pastry should be delicately brown.  Makes 20 tartelettes.

Maple-Almond Flan

I made a New Year’s resolution to diet and eat healthy, so I have taken up the South Beach Diet. I downloaded two books onto my Kindle for Mac, South Beach Diet for Beginners and South Beach Diet Supercharged. Phase One, which lasts two weeks, is very strict about carbs, sugar, and fat. But it’s not all serious. I find the recipes fun to make and delicious too. Desserts are allowed in Phase One so that no one should feel deprived. Instead of going through the menu, I’ll just skip ahead to the dessert!

This flan recipe comes from the Supercharged book. It needs a water bath (bain marie) to set the custard. However, there were some problems with this recipe.  It did not state the oven temperature needed to set the custard. I guessed a moderate oven, 350˚F, would do. I also found that the custard set in 50 minutes rather than in 25 minutes at ? temperature. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t have a roasting pan big enough to give the custard room to set. Instead, I used a 9 inch square glass baking dish. Though it took a while, the result is delicious and well worth it!

Ingredients for the flan:
1 tin (12 oz) fat free evaporated milk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat milk
1/2 cup egg substitute (2 large eggs)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar substitute

Ingredients for flan topping:
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (I used sliced almonds–it’s a preference!)
4 tablespoons sugar free maple syrup

Prepare the ingredients. Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a saucepan, combine evaporated milk and nonfat milk. In a small bowl, combine egg, vanilla, almond extract, and sugar substitute. Add to milk mixture. Heat until the milk is scalded; that is, little bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Do not boil. Ladle the milk-egg mixture into 4 ramekins. My teeny tiny kitchen didn’t have ramekins so I used ceramic coffee cups.

Bake the flan. Place ramekins (or coffee cups)  in a roasting pan and fill with hot water until the level of water comes half-way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven 50 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown. Remove from the water bath and cool slightly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Serve. Toast the slivered/slice almonds in an ungreased skillet. You can also do it in a slow (275˚F) oven. To serve, drizzle a tablespoon of the maple syrup over the top of the flan then sprinkle the almonds on top. It’s so-oo good! You don’t feel you are on a diet.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used whole eggs to make this dessert, otherwise the calories per serving would have been 108.