Breakfast has a good hold on maple syrup, and that’s ok because it’s expected there. It’s nice to wake up to the flavor of maple, but I think dessert deserves more maple time than it gets. I occasionally see mentions of cakes or frostings made with maple, but it seems to me there could more occurrences of it in sweet treats at times other than in the morning. I do have a thing for maple, and it’s possible this all stems from there only ever being one lone, maple-glazed doughnut in the assorted dozens we used to get. When I reached into the box and the maple-glazed was already gone, my morning was ruined. So, when I saw an article about maple syrup in Donna Hay magazine a few months ago, I cut out all the recipes to keep. There’s a cake and a cookie that I’ll try soon enough, but this bruleed tart was the first I had to make. The maple syrup is in the custard, and after baking in the vanilla pastry shell, sugar was caramelized on top to give it bits of sweet crunch on the surface. The recipe isn’t available online, so I’ll include it below.
The vanilla pastry was made first with flour, sugar, and baking powder being blended in a food processor. Chopped cold butter was added, it was processed until crumbly, and then cold water and vanilla were added and mixed until the dough formed. After chilling a bit, the dough was rolled out, fitted into a tart pan, and blind baked. To make the custard, milk and half and half were heated until just boiling before being poured over a mixture of eggs, egg yolks, maple syrup, and sugar while whisking. The custard was cooled a bit before being poured into the tart shell. The filled tart then baked for about 25 minutes or until just set. Last, the baked tart was sprinkled with superfine sugar, and I placed it under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize. This would have been a good time to use a kitchen blow torch for caramelizing the sugar because the edges of the tart shell stood taller than the filling causing the edges to brown at the same time as the sugar. With a torch, you could more easily direct the heat. Hence, I need a blow torch.
At the size suggested in the recipe, this makes a thin tart, but it’s rich enough that you won’t feel the pieces are lacking in depth. This is best served just after being bruleed. The maple will be fragrant in the still warm, smooth custard, and the flavor of the vanilla pastry blends well with it. The crunch of the sugar on top contrasts nicely too. Now, what other ways are there for maple to find its way into dessert?
Maple Brulee Tart
(from Donna Hay magazine)
2 eggs, plus 2 extra yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
superfine sugar for sprinkling (*Note: I’ve found that organic sugar doesn’t caramelize as well for a brulee, so I use conventional superfine sugar.)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
13 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup iced water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Start with the vanilla pastry. Place flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter cubes and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. With the motor running, slowly pour in the ice water and vanilla and process until the mixture forms a dough. Transfer to plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
-Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and then place in an eleven inch, round tart pan. Place tart pan on a large baking sheet to make it easier to move tart pan in and out of oven, cover the surface of the pastry with parchment paper, and fill the tart with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes, remove from oven, remove parchment and pie weights, and then set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and maple syrup. Combine milk and half and half in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat milk mixture until just boiling, and then slowly pour it into bowl with egg mixture while whisking constantly. Allow to cool just a bit before pouring the custard into the blind baked crust, and place the tart back in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool.
-Sprinkled cooled tart with superfine sugar while pre-heating the broiler. Place tart under the broiler, and leave oven door ajar so you can watch as the sugar browns. Turn the tart to brown as evenly as possible. Or, use a kitchen blow torch to brown the sugar. Serve while still warm and enjoy the wonderfulness of maple syrup for dessert.