Sunday, 3 February 2008

Congress tarts

I was driven half insane by the smell of these cooking. They contain practically all the things I would pick for my “last supper” namely coconut, almond, vanilla, pastry and jam. If I could have snuck custard in there somehow I would die happy! The Caked Crusader’s Ma (CCM) had a great idea – she thought that they would be lovely warmed for a dessert and served with custard. The CCM then got rather excited at the thought of one large congress tart and had to calm herself down!

Here’s the inside view:

Google has let me down as I was trying to find out how they got their name and all I could find were lots of lame jokes about American politics...I’m sure you get the drift. So if anyone knows, I am genuinely interested to learn how they acquired the name.

This could be one of those “oh, just me then” moments, but don’t you love it when you open a box of eggs and find a feather attached to one of the eggs?

I think it’s important to point out two things about these little beauties. Firstly, they are quite sweet – don’t get me wrong – not in a bad way. If you like a bakewell tart then you’ll be fine with these. Secondly, when I make them again I will put a smidgen more jam in the base. I was careful this time as I didn’t want jam bubbling up the sides of the tart but I think they could take a little more! Here’s how much jam I put in:

These are all a coconut lover could want – juicier than a macaroon, more flavoursome than coconut ice, more substantial than a Bounty bar. In other words: heaven!

Unusually for me, I used the pastry recipe rather than my trusty shortcrust. What intrigued me was the use of the whole egg, not just the yolk and the inclusion of vanilla. It’s a nice pastry – quite biscuity in some ways and a dream to roll out.

The raw filling isn’t the most attractive you’ll ever see; it looks a bit like porridge:

The tarts start to get more appealing by the time they are assembled and ready for the oven:

And by the time they come out of the oven they are practically Miss World’s of the cake kingdom!

For the pastry:
200g plain flour
Pinch of salt
70g unsalted butter
80g caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the tart filling:
250g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
1.5 tablespoons of rice flour or semolina
Pinch of ground cinnamon
3 egg whites
70g desiccated coconut
Raspberry jam (I used a seedless variety)

How to make:

- First make the pastry. Rub the butter into the flour and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar then make a well in the centre for the egg and vanilla.
- Using a knife, bring the mixture together. Mine came together beautifully, but if the pastry looks too crumbly sprinkle some water on to it. Not too much – just enough to bring together.
- Shape the dough into a ball and sit it on a sheet of clingfilm. Flatten slightly into a disc then wrap up and chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
- Grease two 12 hole patty tins. This recipe will make 18 tarts.
- Roll the pastry out between two sheets of baking paper and using a round cutter slightly bigger than the patty hole, cut out circles of pastry. You’re aiming for the pastry to be thin but not see-through. About 4mm thick.
- Once all the pastry cases are cut out and sitting in the patty tins, put the tins in the fridge for about 10 minutes. This will limit shrinkage on cooking.
- Now make the tart filling. In a bowl whisk the egg whites until they are frothy but still liquid.
- In a separate bowl mix the sugar, ground almonds, rice flour or semolina, and cinnamon.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites then add 50g only of the desiccated coconut.
- Remove the patty tins from the fridge and spoon a little jam into the base of each. Don’t spread it out – leave it as a little mound in the centre . This will stop the jam from seeping out. (Note my photo above of the jam – next time, I will use more than this)
- Spoon the coconut filling on top, evenly across how ever many tarts you have.
- Sprinkle the remaining 20g of coconut on top.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. The skewer test won’t work. Mine took 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool before removing from tin.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.
- Eat.


glamah16 said...

The Caked Crusader strikes agin. I'm craving something like this right now in the cold Chicago weather with some coffee.

Dolores said...

Nope, not just you. I love opening a carton of eggs and seeing the feather. Never happens with eggs purchased from the grocery store...

These look great!

Peko-peko said...

these are beautiful tarts!! love the last photo they make me drooool!!!

Chibog in Chief said...

oh i love this tart combination; raspberry, almond and coconut!! yummmmmy :-)

Deborah said...

I love coconut, and I have a lot of jam that I need to use up! These sound perfect!

Rosie said...

What beautiful tarts! What a great combo you've left me drooling ;)

Rosie x

Emily said...

These look perfect. Hey, they're perfect for Super Tuesday!
I do wonder how they got their name.

punkin said...

I just wandered over from "Things Soo Likes" where I saw your name in the comments section. Your baking is amazing!

The Caked Crusader said...

Thank you Punkin - always nice to have new readers, welcome!

Fiona Reynolds said...

Oooh - they look lovely. I've just spotted my tag so will be cracking on with that shortly.

Swati said...

Hi..I am seeing you after a long time and enjoyed reading all the posts I really do a fab job in baking...
The tarts look fantastic and amazing photos as well!!

Jo said...

Mrs Crusader,
I have just made a second batch of these lovely little tarts! My husband, who never eats cake, begged me to make them, they have been a huge success in our house, thanks.

Roberto said...

Found your recipe while searching for Congress tarts. Made them back in school and had a massive craving for them. Exellent stuff, thanks a lot!

Cyncalla said...

Interesting. I lived in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada for a few years, and the locals make these but call them "Matrimonial Tarts".

I love your blog... discovered it last week and have been busy drooling my way through. This is a fantastic and very inclusive collection you've made; thank you.

Ketutar said...

Never had any coconut in these, also, I put less filling in, and a cross of shortcake dough on top... but they are delicious. :-)
It's the Congress of Vienna 1814, The Dancing Congress, and as Vienna was known for the pastries, they developed this to commemorate the congress.

Anonymous said...

Oh, is this an american site? Don't you just hate it when you click "pages from my country" and all you get is american crap!

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Anonymous

Nope, I'm British to the core! An Essex girl (not that kind) and proud!

Happy baking

Charlotte said...

Hello, just discovered your site and can't wait to make something. I was searching as my husband's 94 year old Grandma has just gone into a nursing home and keeps talking about Congress Tarts. I am in Hertfordshire and she is in Devon. Do you think if I make them and post them they would ever arrive in one piece???

The Caked Crusader said...

Hi Charlotte

Not sure they'd make it unless you sent them wrapped up in the actual baking tray to stop them rocking about. Maybe worth a try to clingfilm them into the pan?

Happy baking

sam dorywala said...

The name is thought to date from the seventeenth century when, at the end of the Thirty Years War, a Congress was held in Osnabruck,

The Caked Crusader said...

Thanks Sam - that's the most interesting reason I've heard so far

Penny said...

Great site! Love this recipe but this is not a congress tart.
Congress Tarts are a traditional Cornish recipe we grew up on. However, they do not have coconut in them. They are pastry base with jam in bottom and almond sponge very much like a Bakewell.

forgetmenot said...

Our Cornish Congress tarts had no coconut, and they had a pastry cross. Looking back through old Cornish recipes I did find one recipe with coconut.
I like the sound of it though, going to make some later with my new found vinegar pastry recipe. First though going to browse through your site and pick up some recipes.
I live in Australia now, lots of recipes have been changed so much, probably because ingredients were hard to come by down here!

Lesley Lendon said...

Here's what I found on google, on another page:
Congress Tartlets

Congress Tartlets are a favourite for afternoon teas served freshly baked and warm, but they can equally well be cooked as a full tart, to be served as a pudding with cream or ice cream. The taste of desiccated coconut, together with raspberry jam, will stir the memories of many. The name is thought to date from the seventeenth century when, at the end of the Thirty Years War, a Congress was held in Osnabruck, Germany. All those who attended were presented with a macaroon tart marked with a pastry cross. Some cooks still put a pastry cross on and if you have any spare pastry you may like to try it, but I prefer the filling heaped up high and beautifully browned on top.

Anonymous said...

So glad to have found your delicious recipe, years since I last ate a congress tart. Why not use your egg yolks for the pastry rather than another egg? Tastes even better.