Crushing spices without a pestle and mortar or spice grinder proved to be a challenge ;).
I’m gonna say it – Dominque Ansel is a scandalous boy. When he first put this item on the menu, he refused to tell anyone what was in it. Not to guard his secret flavours or give anyone anaphylactic shock ;), instead so the customers could decide what the flavours were for themselves. Seems like a bit of a wild concept, however, many customers were saying flavours that weren’t even present in the tart. I’m sure if they were to do the Hell’s Kitchen palate test they would have all lost quite disastrously ;).
The name comes from the appearance of the tart, because it looks like a sunflower. I’m ashamed to say that I really didn’t get the connection until staring at the photo in the page for hours and suddenly being like – ‘OMG IT LOOKS LIKE A SUNFLOWER’. At first I didn’t even realise this was intentional, it’s a true wonder that I passed my GCSE’s ;).
This recipe uses spices for the first time. In the apricot compote ‘dome’, there is a blend of ginger, saffron, pink peppercorns and fennel seeds. My mum really is not a fan of spices, ANY SPICES. You literally wouldn’t catch her dead eating a gingerbread man, so this was quite the adventure ;).
The recipe begins with the passion fruit curd. I used fresh passion fruits, and the method was pretty much the same as any other curd recipe, apart from the use of gelatine (which Ansel uses in literally everything, so it didn’t really come as a surprise ;)). The curd went into the fridge to set, while the other components were made.
Next came the apricot compote ‘dome’. My main issue was actually crushing the spices, I was stood crushing the spices with a plastic rolling pin for what felt like hours, you can’t claim that I’m not dedicated ;). The spice blend was added to an apricot compote and frozen in a half-sphere silicone mould.
The tart base uses the vanilla sable dough from previously in the book. Because I never seem to have the right size tart rings for Ansel, I ended up making mini ones, as opposed to one large one. Everything so far was pain-free (apart from the arm cramp from the spice crushing ;), and it was already assembly time!
The tart cases first received a layer of the GORGEOUS passion fruit curd, before being topped with the apricot dome, sliced apricots and poppy seeds. Unfortunately, I was unable to get fresh apricots, meaning I had to opt for mushy tinned apricots instead. Although this didn’t inhibit the flavour at all, it did lower the presentation and stopped them looking as distinctively like sunflowers. Lastly, I sprinkled some poppy seeds on them before they were ready to eat.
These little tarts were like a flavour explosion! Although, not entirely out-of-the-box flavours, they packed a real punch and the spices helped to exentuate these flavours. I would eat these all-day, everyday. They’re a perfect summer bake, that would look more than suitable in the background of Call Me By Your Name ;).
NEXT UP: Christmas Morning Cereal (please tell me that Ansel isn’t ACTUALLY making me make cereal ;))
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