If you have ever stood in front of a cake store and gushed over the beautiful creations wishing you could whip them up for yourself, then we have good news for you. Caroline Khoo, dessert extraordinaire from Nectar and Stone, has published her prettiest recipes in a new book I’m just here for dessert. From gorgeous tarts and macarons to delightful cakes and ice-creams, elevating your next home back-off will be a piece of cake!
Makes: enough filling for 4 small 10 cm tarts
90 g unsalted butter, softened
100 g caster (superfine) sugar, plus an extra teaspoon for decorating
90 g almond meal
15 g plain flour
15 g soft icing mixture or icing (confectioners’) sugar
Pinch of fine salt
4 small plain pastry tart shells (if making them yourself, see recipe and method below)
Handful of frozen berries
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment over a medium speed until soft, then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
- Add one egg at a time until fully incorporated.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients except the frozen berries to the bowl and mix on high speed for 1–2 minutes.
- Divide the mixture between the tart shells, and sprinkle some frozen berries into each shell. Push the berries down gently with your fingers so they are slightly submerged in the frangipane filling.
- Bake for 4 minutes, then sprinkle the extra caster sugar on top of each tart. Return the tarts to the oven and bake for another 8–10 minutes, or until golden.
Tip Allow the tarts to cool, then top with a few slices of fresh strawberry and some fresh blueberries. Add a pretty edible flower too, if you like.
200 g unsalted butter, softened
120 g soft icing mixture or icing (confectioners’) sugar
11/2 eggs (beat one egg then divide and add to the other)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence (optional)
370 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
canola oil cooking spray
- Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on a medium speed until creamy and soft.
- Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the soft icing mixture a little at a time until completely incorporated.
- Add the eggs and vanilla
- Slowly add the flour. Mix until a dough has just started to form.
- Transfer the dough from the stand mixer to a clean bench lightly dusted with flour and knead with clean, lightly floured hands for a few minutes until you have a smooth ball. Don’t overwork the dough, just knead it enough to bring it together into that smooth ball. Cut the dough in half and then form each half into a ball again. Push down on each ball to create a disc, and then tightly wrap both discs in plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough in the fridge for 2 hours. (You can leave it overnight if you are making this ahead of time.) The dough will need time to come to room temperature before you roll it out.
Rolling out your pastry
- Place one disc of dough between two sheets of baking paper then begin to roll out to form a thin rectangle of pastry about 8cm x 6 cm and about 1 cm thick. Repeat with the other dough disc.
- Lightly spray your tart tins with the canola oil.
- Using a sharp knife, cut each rolled sheet of pastry into 6 pieces, each larger than a tart tin. That way, there will be overhanging pastry when you line the tins. Use your fingers to gently but firmly push the dough into the tart tin. If any area is short of pastry, add some dough so that it is covered. Repeat with the rest of the pastry and the tart tins.
- Run your rolling pin over each tart tin so any overhanging pastry is trimmed off and you have a clean edge.
- Poke a few holes in the base of each tart with a fork.
- Cover the pastry-lined tins tightly with plastic wrap, then place the tins in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan-forced.
- Cut out six small squares of baking paper, each big enough to cover a tart tin.
- Fill the lined tart tins with baking beads, then blind bake for 6 minutes.
- Remove the baking paper and baking beads then return the tart shells to the oven for a further 7minutes until slightly golden, then allow to cool completely in their tins on a wire rack.
Note When making frangipane tarts, remove the tart shells from the oven after 7 minutes of extra baking time.
Images and recipes from I'm Just Here for Dessert by Caroline Khoo (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99).