I am forever searching for ways to serve an elegant dessert that is not too heavy, not too sugary, and does have healthful, sensible goodness. A tart shell made mostly with oats and nuts, and a strawberry rhubarb fruit filling made with raw agave nectar has satisfied my “spinach tiger” wish to “serve a little something nice” after dinner, and keep the calories down.
I don’t make a lot of desserts because I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I can’t resist tarts, which are often a bit less sweet than many other desserts and are elegantly portioned just right.
A tart is the couture line of the filled pie family because each ingredient must be so carefully placed, and the shell must be properly executed. A typical pie can hide what is underneath the pie crust, but the tart bares it all. You see the ingredients and they need to be pretty and hold together well. A tart is expected to be elegant.
The tart shell itself can take on many different personalities; it can be easy going and always turn out perfectly, or it can be very fussy needing precise attention to its development. Part of the mystique is, how did the tart maker choose right shell for the filling. The shell must not only taste good, it must be substantial enough to hold the ingredients, and not get soggy. ( I once made perfect lime tarts with a crust so hard, it couldn’t be cut with a knife.)
This tart shell was just the right kind of crunchy and firm, tasting a little bit like almond shortbread, and a good fit for the strawberry rhubarb mixture. One bite demanded the next.
I don’t put myself in the “tart maker” class, because I haven’t made enough of them to understand the decision making process to its fullest. I haven’t had enough tart shell failures or proud successes with sweet or savory ingredients. But, I’m about to enter that “tart” world today as a novice, who stepped out to create my own tart shell crust, and strawberry rhubarb filling. Today ends my tart virginity.
- 2 cups strawberries
- 2 cups sliced rhubarb
- ½ cup raw agave nectar, flavored with vanilla bean
- Squeeze of blood orange, orange, lemon (optional)
- Mix strawberries and rhubarb together an hour before baking. Let sit at room temperature.
- Toast oats for 10 minutes. Grind in food processor. I used a magic bullet.
- Mix together almond meal, oats, flour, salt, brown sugar.
- Cut in butter, forming into a crumbly dough. Wrap in plastic, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Use hands to form into a ball. Cut into 4 pieces. Cut off about 1 tablespoon of dough mixture from each for crumbly topping.
- Press each piece into a small buttered tart shell with removable bottom (or use parchment paper). Dough will tend to be crumbly, use hands to push into pan; it will bake together.
- Blind bake crust (with pie weights or rice over parchment paper) for 10 minutes. Remove parchment and pie weights and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Remove, cool, place fruit in tart shells. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until fruit is soft.
- For topping, take the extra piece, crumble onto a cookie sheet, bake 10 -15 minutes. Reserve. Crumble the top just prior before serving.