Sunday, March 03, 2024

Black-and-White Sesame Tarts


Several years ago, I read an article about the restaurant Elske in Bon Appétit, and immediately noticed the recipe for black-and-white sesame tarts. It’s more involved than I typically go for, and black sesame paste remains a specialty ingredient, but since I had bought some (see black tahini and poppy seed swirls as well as sweet potato and black sesame marble bundt cake), I knew that I had to make these already!

A few words of warning… I couldn’t find halva in stores, so I ended up getting some online; I won’t name the brand, but it was well-rated. However, the consistency was that of brown sugar, not at all what I was expecting! I would have been much better off with something by Hebel & Co, like this awesome peanut butter and chocolate crisp halva cocreated by Molly Yeh. I highly recommend it, I have only good things to say about that one!

I used bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and that’s what I wrote below. Also, my black tahini was much stiffer than my white tahini, so I left the black tahini pudding at room temperature before piping it into the tart shells. Finally, a very important detail: I had enough filling to make about 18 tarts, but the recipe says the yield is 12 tarts. Just plan to make extra dough so you can have extra tarts, you won’t regret it!

In short, these tarts are so much work, and they are also so, so good! Worth it.

For the puddings
¼ cup cold water
1 tsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
4 oz. lactose-free white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup regular (white) tahini
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup black tahini
kosher salt
1 1/3 cup lactose-free cream
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
8 large egg yolks

For the tart shells and assembly
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pink kosher salt
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the surface
11 Tbsp. chilled lactose-free butter, cut into pieces
5 oz. halva, crumbled
faky sea salt (I used vanilla fleur de sel)

For the puddings
Place water in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin is softened, 10–12 minutes.

Meanwhile, place white chocolate and regular tahini in a medium bowl, then place dark chocolate and black tahini in another medium bowl. Add a pinch of salt to each bowl and set side by side. Bring cream, milk, ¼ cup granulated sugar, and a big pinch of salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Vigorously whisk egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar in a third medium bowl until pale yellow and thick.

Remove saucepan from heat and very slowly drizzle about 1 cup hot cream mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk egg mixture into remaining cream mixture in saucepan. Set saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to hold the marks of the whisk, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and add gelatin mixture; whisk until dissolved.

Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (you should have about 4 cups), then divide between the 2 bowls filled with tahini and chocolate. (If you have a kitchen scale and want to be exact, measure out 12 oz. custard per bowl.) Let warm custard sit on top 5 minutes so the heat slowly melts the chocolate.

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend white chocolate mixture until smooth and incorporated. Repeat with milk chocolate mixture (no need to wash blender). Cover each one with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface and eliminating air bubbles, and chill puddings until set, at least 4 hours.

Remove puddings from fridge, uncover, and whisk vigorously until smooth. Transfer each pudding to a piping bag; twist ends of bags to seal and secure with rubber bands. Cut off tips to create about a ½"-wide opening on each bag.

Slide both filled bags side by side into a third piping bag. Simultaneously apply slow, even pressure to filled bags to push puddings into third bag in equal amounts so that they are side by side. Slide out filled bags as they empty and you fill the third bag. Once the third bag is about three-quarters full, remove original bags. Twist end of bag with both fillings and secure with a rubber band. Repeat process, emptying original bags into a fourth bag, twist end to close, and secure with a rubber band. Chill bags at least 1 hour to allow pudding to firm up again. (Puddings can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

For the tart shells and assembly
Beat eggs, egg yolks, and corn syrup in a small bowl with a fork until no streaks remain.

Pulse powdered sugar, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, kosher salt, and 2¾ cups all-purpose flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until largest pieces are the size of a pea. With the motor running, stream in egg mixture; process until dough forms a single mass around the blade.

Transfer dough to a work surface and knead a couple of times to work in dry bits. Divide in half and form each into a ½"-thick disk. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Let 1 disk of dough sit at room temperature until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper dusted with all-purpose flour until 1/8" thick (dust with more flour as you work if needed). If dough becomes difficult to handle, slide onto a baking sheet (with parchment) and chill a few minutes before proceeding.

Here, the original recipe recommended a 4” round cookie cutter, but I recommend 4 ½”. Using cutter, punch out 6 rounds; save scraps for another use. Working one at a time, firmly press rounds into jumbo muffin cups, working into corners and up sides. Press out any creases so pastry is smooth and an even thickness all over. Prick bottoms of crusts in several places with a fork and freeze until firm, 10–15 minutes.

Bake crusts, rotating halfway through, until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat process with remaining disk of dough.

Scatter halvah across bottoms of crusts. Snip a ¾"-wide opening from tip of fuller bag of puddings. Applying slow, even pressure and twisting top of bag as you go, pipe puddings in a swirl pattern to fill each crust; start at edges and work your way toward the center. When pudding runs out, continue with remaining bag. Sprinkle tarts with sea salt just before serving. (Dough can be made 3 days ahead; keep chilled. Crusts can be baked 1 day ahead; store tightly wrapped at room temperature.)

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