Box of dreams: a mousse tart

With all of the Christmas baking going around, I felt like I had to do some more of my very own. For this particular dessert, I wanted to go with three different inspirations. The first was fruit cake, the second was eggnog, and the third was snow. I wanted to also make a box-shaped dessert, to be a loose homage to presents and gift boxes. I opted for a tart, just because I didn’t want to make another cake, well, at least just for now. I love cake, but I want to diversify just a tad here. I feel like the most common Christmas desserts you’d see are bouche de noels, gingerbread houses, or croquembouches, and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE making and eating those, but I felt like doing those just for the sake of doing them wouldn’t be as fun as trying something slightly different here.

So I opted for a rum spiked short crust tart, since the alcohol in the rum will evaporate and create a flakier finish. For my filling, I went with buckwheat frangipane. Frangipane is normally an almond cream that is baked, and has this cakey-texture to it. So I decided to use a ton of brown sugar, butter, and molasses, along with buckwheat, which has a darker, richer flavor than almond, to make it have a similar texture and flavor profile to a fruit cake, in this case, panforte, which is a Mediterranean one. I also included actual dried fruits and nuts into the filling to help evoke that flavor profile more. For my next layer, we have a nod to eggnog, being a nutmeg and cinnamon spiced pastry cream/custard layer. And then we have mascarpone rare cheesecake, since a creamy cheese can help with lifting those dried fruits a ton. I went with a marbled mirror glaze, just to be whimsical. That’s honestly it. I didn’t really have much else of a reason to make the mirror glaze black and white besides just feeling like it.


Makes 1 large tart, about 12 servings:
For the short crust pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cold rum

Blitz sugar, baking powder, flour, butter, and salt together into a fine powder. Make a well and pour in your rum and egg yolks. Mix together until combined. Chill down the dough for at least 10 minutes before rolling. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the cold dough to about 1/16th an inch thickness. Carefully place into a 10 inch square baking pan or metal ring mold and weigh down with parchment and either dried rice or beans. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes. Cool completely before you remove the baking weights and add in your frangipane layer.

For the buckwheat frangipane:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons brown butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons chopped pistachios
2 dried pears, chopped up
3 tablespoons dried raisins
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons dried apricots, diced
3 tablespoons chopped dates

Mix rum with sugar and brown butter. Soak the dried fruits in that until rehydrated. Combine ingredients and pour into the already baked tart shell. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F, then cover with aluminum foil and continue to bake for another 25 minutes at 325 degrees F. Allow the tart to cool completely before unmolding and refrigerating. The tart has to be cold for the next layer.

For the egg custard:
3 egg yolks
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups heavy cream, whipped stiff
a pinch of salt

Melt bloomed gelatin into milk and infuse with cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk egg yolks with cornstarch, salt, and sugar. Temper the two together and whisk on medium heat until thickened. Whip in the butter, then pass through a sieve. Allow to cool to room temperature and then add in your whipped cream. Pour into the tart shell and level off the top. Freeze solid.

For the mascarpone rare cheesecake:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream, whipped stiff
2 teaspoons gelatin powder + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup goat milk
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Melt gelatin, sugar, and salt together. Pour into your mascarpone and beat with a paddle attachment on your stand mixer until just combined. If you don’t have a stand mixer, well, you can use a rubber spatula. If you don’t have a stand mixer or a rubber spatula, please leave this site and never come back use a spoon. Once the milk-gelatin mixture has been fully incorporated into the mascarpone, fold in your heavy cream and then transfer the mixture into silicone half dome molds. I used a 4 inch and a 1 inch to create my domes, but you can really use whatever you have or want. Freeze solid, so about 2-3 hours in the freezer, before unmolding. A tip to deal with the air bubbles, pipe the mixture into the mold, and tap it repeatedly to release any pockets of air before you put the spheres into the freezer. Reserve any spare cheesecake mixture and transfer to a piping bag to finish garnishing the tart with.

For the mirror glaze:
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon activated charcoal
2 packets gelatin powder + 1/4 cup milk
2/3 cups goat milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
a pinch of salt

Heat up the gelatin, goat milk, and unsalted butter until the butter has melted into the liquid. Pour over the white chocolate chips and allow that to sit for at least 2 minutes before stirring. Pour about 1/4 of the mixture into another bowl and dye with the activated charcoal powder. Swirl the two together and pour over the set mousse spheres. Arrange the mousse spheres over the top of the tart and pipe the spare rare cheesecake over any blank portions.


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