Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pink praline tarts

How pretty are these tarts?  I don’t think I have ever baked anything so pink!  Pink pralines are a French speciality – particularly in Lyons – and are basically an almond with a pink sugary shell.  Broken up and cooked with cream they form an almond flavoured caramel that is thick but not sticky or heavy.

A French recipe seemed an appropriate bake for the closing weekend of the Tour de France and, as an Englishman –Bradley Wiggins, has won it for the first time (Go Wiggo!) I couldn’t let it go without some sort of commemoration.

I couldn’t find pink pralines in any of my local shops so ordered mine online from MSK . The downside is that they only sell them in 500g quantities, and they cost £20.  I chose the whole, rather than crushed, as I figured that it gave me more options i.e. I could crush them (and control how crushed they were!), or use them whole.  I realise that they’re expensive but they do have a very long ‘best before’ date so you have time to use them in many different recipes.

Perhaps the fact they are sold in 500g tubs was a blessing because I got through a fair few “testing” that they were ok.  I need to test most foodstuffs, but I find that anything sweet needs the most testing.   What can I say?  I care about the welfare of my eaters!  Here are the pralines at the start of cooking:

Here they are at the end of the cooking time:

I followed Eric Lanlard’s recipe given in his latest book “Tart it Up!". I love Eric Lanlard for his unfussy, unpretentious presentation of sophisticated patisserie.  So many pink praline tart recipes call for precise thermometer readings, but his recipe simplified the process and worked brilliantly.  The only change I made was to leave out the additional sugar in the tart filling as I feared it might be a sweet overload.

The only other tweak I made was to serve the tarts with thick cream, rather than Eric’s suggestion of crème fraiche.  Call me a peasant, but I have never understood how crème fraiche adds anything but unpleasantness when added to a dessert.  I get the whole idea of balancing flavours, evening out sweet with sharp but crème fraiche??? Bleugh.  It’s up there with mint leaves on my ‘hate’ list.


For the pastry:
300g plain flour
4 tablespoons golden caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, chopped into cubes
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:
275g pink pralines, plus extra for decoration
225ml single cream


Start by making the pastry: place the flour, sugar and butter into the food processor and blitz until you have fine breadcrumbs. If you prefer, you can make the pastry by hand using the rubbing in method, also until you have breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolks, water and vanilla and pulse the food processor until the pastry just starts to form a ball.  If you are making it by hand, use your fingertips to incorporate the wet ingredients.

Tip out the pastry and handle just enough to bring together into a ball.

Cut in half and form each half into a fat disc.

Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

This recipe will make 7 individual tarts using shallow tart tins approximately 8-10cm across (mine were 10cm measured across the top, 8cm measured across the bottom).

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Roll one of the discs of pastry out between two sheets of clingfilm – you’re aiming for about 0.5cm thick.  I found the pastry particularly soft and buttery so dusted the clingfilm with a little extra flour.

Cut the pastry into three pieces (cut it like the Mercedes logo!) and line three of the tart tins – leave a small overhang and cut off any excess.

Use the second disc of pastry to line a further three tins, and then re-roll the offcuts from both to line the seventh tin.

Gently prick the base with a fork before pressing some tin foil onto the pastry – you can use baking beans if you wish but for small cases I find it unnecessary.

Place the tins on a baking sheet (or two) and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until the pastry is golden and cooked.  There will be no further baking so the pastry must be cooked through.

Leave the pastry cases to cool.

When cool, trim off any excess pastry.

Now make the filling: place the pink pralines in a thick plastic bag and bash with a saucepan to crush them.  Recipes vary as to how far you should crush them, but as the pink praline shell melts when heated, it’s really just about how big a piece of nut you want in your tart.  I kept them quite chunky.

Place the crushed pralines in a saucepan along with the cream and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ladle the mixture into the prepared pastry cases and leave to cool before refrigerating until you wish to serve.

Before serving, decorate with further pink pralines, if you wish.

Serve with thick spooning cream.

Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.



Jo said...

What a fantastic colour! They make very pretty (and I'm sure very tasty!) little tarts.

I'm with you on creme fraiche. It should not be near sweet things. And mint leaves should not be near anything. Keep them off my plate! Haha.

Jacqueline said...

He he, love your testing guidelines.

They are very pretty and inviting tarts. Glad you had some praline left to use in that tarts :)

Gloria said...

Beautiful, really I love them!!

Cakeyboi said...

Mint leaves - bleugh! I agree on that - these look amazing and I have never heard of the pink beauties before - an education for me!!

Lucy said...

These are so pretty! I've never seen these pink pralines before but I love their colour.

Baking Addict said...

These are gorgeous! I've never had pink pralines and they sure are pricey! I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them soon :)

Kit @ i-lostinausten said...

This is so lovely & I love the color of those pink praline. Beautiful a sweet tart! I've made some cupcakes with pink praline few months ago & it's simply amazing. You've done a great job with this tarts! Have a lovely day! :)

Maggie said...

I have never come across pink pralines before. The pink tarts look beautiful.

Nom! The Indulgent Baking Blog said...

how sweet are these?! Love them!

Nom! x

Dipika @ The Very Hungry Baker said...

These are so very pretty! I can't stop looking at them.

Anonymous said...

Aaaah! Tarte à la praline! You can't even begin how excited you've made me! Thanks the Cake Crusader! Nathalie, your most enthousiastic lyonnaise fan!

Samantha Elliott said...

Mmmmmn! These look lovely but I would be a bit hesitant to make them as I do have an issue with some nuts :-( I would be willing to be a tester for you to see if I am ok with these!
As for your chocolate and stout cupcakes - I got 12/10 for them from Hubby so thank you muchly. Not sure the wii approves of them though!

Sarah-Jane - said...

I've been desperate to have a go with pink pralies since I saw the Hairy Bikers use them.

Your little tarts look wonderful !

Can I ask you where you managed to obtain the pralines .... pretty please ?

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of oink pralines before - so I learned something new today. These tarts look pinkly delicious.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - sorry - pink pralines, not oink pralines.


Choclette said...

Pretty in Pink! These look delightful. It's amazing what you learn. I lived in Lyon for 6 months and never ever had a pink praline tart - oh how I regret that!

Ines Nky said...

Wouahh they're look gorgeous. You know you can do your own praline.Trust me it's easy,fast and cheapest

From a french girl.

Susie @ Fold in the Flour said...

Wow, I've never heard of pink praline before. These look gorgeous though - I love the vibrant colour. Am intrigued now and would love to try them! :)

Laura loves cakes said...

How intriguing...I've never tried pink praline but I'd love to try one of your tarts!!! I saw something on the Hairy Bikers Bakeation recently...yours look perfect!!! :-)

Ronja said...

Hello? These tiny tarts look wonderful. I love small bites and these should be guests at my next party!

Anonymous said...

I Will be trying right now so you dont cook the pie actually you just place it on the refregirator interesting cant wait to see thé result !