Halva, almond, and apricot tart

So I made this tart because of two reasons: I had a ton of halva in my freezer that I wanted to use in a dessert, and I was seeing my former-pastry chef friend, Janae, and I wanted to make something for her(which ended up being these tarts!). For those unfamiliar with halva, it is a candy made from crystalized sesame paste and sugar. It has a sandy texture, and it’s super easy to grate into things. I definitely knew that I wanted to do a tart using the halva, because I have made shortbread cookies with it before in college, and they were delicious! For the filling, I was debating on a couple of things. I wanted to do apricot for sure, but it was either between Earl Grey or almond. I obviously chose almond, since the title of this blog gives that away, but it was more because I wanted to use frangipane in the filling, which is an almond-based cream that is baked into pastries, and that kind of already limited it down for me!

For the components, we have a halva shortbread pate sucre, or sweet pastry crust, with a halva frangipane embedded with fresh pieces of apricot, an Almond Inspiration(almond-flavored chocolate) namelaka – a fancy word for a whipped ganache mousse, sour apricot puree, and cardamom-glazed apricots. For the glaze, I used poached some apricots in simple syrup, and then pureed the apricots themselves into the puree, but reserved the poaching liquid to be used as a syrup. The unique thing about apricot is that they contain tons of pectin, which is an acid that thickens and gels sugar. The simple syrup made from poaching apricots contains the pectin from the apricots, and results in a unique glaze that works well for coating fruits called nappage. And the best part about using nappage is that the flavor of apricot will come through, and that apricot is one of the three main flavors of the dessert itself! So in a lot of ways, this dessert has a lot of synergy between the three ingredients being used, resulting in a fruity, nutty, and toasty experience!

For the halva pate sucre:
2oz finely grated halva
1 cup all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
1/4 cup ice cold water

Start by mixing the halva, flour, and salt together until combined. Mash into that the flour, and then mix in the water to form your dough. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Dust a flat surface with flour and roll out the dough to about 1/8th an inch thickness. Line 4 crumpet molds with melted butter and flour and divide the dough into the 4 molds. Prick the dough and freeze for at least 10 minutes while working on the frangipane.

For the halva frangipane:
2oz finely grated halva
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 cups almond meal or flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1/4 tspn baking powder
2 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
2 apricots, diced finely

Mix the halva, flours, granulated sugar, salt, and baking powder first. Mix into that the butter and egg to form your batter. Divide the 3/4 of your apricot pieces on the chilled pate sucre shells. Then divide your batter into the 4 shells. Press the remaining apricot pieces on top of the piped-in frangipane, and flatten with an offset spatula. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool down the tarts before attempting to garnish with.

For the apricot glaze:
2 apricots, roughly chopped, with 3 more for glazing
2 tbsp honey
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp honey
a pinch of cardamom
3 tbsp granulated sugar

Simmer down the ingredients, minus the sugar, together for about 20 minutes, 10 with the lid on, 10 with the lid on, on medium heat. Stain out the apricots, reserving the liquid for your glaze and the cooked apricots for your puree. Dissolve your sugar into the reserved liquid. Cut three more apricots into wedges and store in the glaze to finish.

For the apricot puree:
Cooked apricots used for the glaze

Press the apricots through a mesh-wire sieve. As they have been cooked so as long as they have been, they should go through the sieve relatively easily. The end result should be an apricot paste with a sauce-like consistency. Transfer into a piping bag. Reserve some for the namelaka

For the apricot-almond namelaka:
1 1/2 tspn gelatin powder + 2 tbsp cold water
1/4 cup almond milk
2 tbsp apricot puree
3oz Valrhona Almond Inspiration
1oz white chocolate
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix gelatin with water to bloom. Place gelatin into a pot with the almond milk and apricot puree and bring to a simmer. Place into that the Almond Inspiration and white chocolate and allow the mixture to sit, off heat, for 2 minutes before stirring until fully combined. Pour into an airtight container and chill down for at least 1 hour. Mix the set Almond Inspiration mixture with a rubber spatula until softened, then mix into that your cream. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and allow it to set for at least another 30 minutes in the refrigerator until attempting to use.

For assembly:
Start by pouring your excess apricot glaze into the frangipane on the tarts – this will help sweeten the mixture, but also keep it from drying out. Pipe onto the soaked tarts your namelaka, then dots of the apricot puree. Finish with the glazed apricots.

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