These tarts feature a rich, tangy pomegranate curd set in a buttery gluten free crust and topped with little bursts of texture and heat from pink peppercorns. I made them for the Muses Valentine’s event in 2020, which feels like a million years ago.
It was a glorious gathering of women with a lecture on the history and art of crafting love (and hate) letters, live music and collage making. Little did I know that it would be my last opportunity to cook for humans other than my husband for a year. I’m so grateful to Rose Callahan for all of these glorious photos that prove that I used to leave my house and see other people.
You can read more about this beautiful event and find links to the recipes for other culinary love spells here. I loved the challenge of making a lush and darkly romantic spread of healthy food for this event. It was entirely gluten-free and vegetarian with many vegan options.
I do miss parties, but honestly I miss cooking with my friends even more. The beautiful and talented Rosalind Lily helped me in the kitchen for this event. Here we are deeply focused on decorating various tarts.
I have a lot of different recipes for gluten-free tart crusts on this blog. They are delicious but delicate, and I knew that I would need to find something sturdier for this event. I turned to the excellent book Flavor Flours by dessert queen Alice Medrich. It is pretty exciting that a classic baking guru took the time to figure out all of these gluten-free recipes, when she clearly has no trouble with gluten herself. In this book, rather than trying to make gluten-free flour taste like wheat flour, she capitalizes on the inherent flavor profiles of each kind of GF grain. This crust really brings out the butterscotch quality of sorghum, and the shells are sturdy enough to hold up to the demands of mass production and presentation.
In truth, Valentine’s day is the absolute last gasp of pomegranate season (at least where I live), so I’m posting this recipe a bit early because the pomegranates are excellent at the moment and eating them feels like the right sort of magic for these dark times spent inside in isolation. So, even if you don’t feel like making these tarts, I hope your will treat yourself to a pomegranate while they are still around. Behold! A pomegranate that was consumed by me for breakfast just recently!
If you want to concoct a more complicated pomegranate spell, here is my tart receipe!
POMEGRANATE AND PINK PEPPERCORN HEART TARTS
(makes 12 four inch heart tarts)
2/3 cup sugar (divided)
2/3 cup concentrated pomegranate juice*
8 Tablespoons of butter, cut into chunks
5 egg yolks (freeze the whites to make meringues later!)
Over a medium flame dissolve 1/3 cup of the sugar with the juice and butter in a sauce pan.
In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining 1/3 cup of the sugar.
Remove the juice mixture from the stove and mix the eggs in to the sauce pan until they are completely combined.
Return the pan to a low flame. Keep mixing with a wooden spoon, never allowing it to boil, for about 10 minutes. Taste as you go and, if needed, add the juice of one lemon to achieve the desired tartness.
When it is thick enough coat the back of the spoon it’s done! If there are lumps, strain the curd through a fine sieve.
Transfer the curd to a jar and store it in the fridge for up to week.
FOR THE GLUTEN FREE TART SHELLS ( from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich)
2 and 1/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup baking soda
24 Tablespoons (3 sticks ) of slightly softened butter cut into chunks
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 Tablespoon water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Grease 12 four inch tart tins.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chunks of butter, cream cheese, water and vanilla. Use a fork or the back of a spoon to mix and mash everything into a smooth, soft dough.
Divide into 12 even lumps (each lump will be 3 oz). Use your fingers to press each lump of dough evenly into the bottom of the tart tins. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough. Use a flat bottom measuring cup to press the dough from the center and toward and up the sides of the tin. I found that for a heart shaped tin, a flat bottom oval shaped measuring cup worked the best! Work the cup around the bottom and the the sides and into the corners until everything is evenly lined, then level of off the top edges. Leave the plastic in place. Refrigerate the tarts for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Position a rack in the lover third of your oven and preheat to 325. Peel the plastic off of the tarts and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then check on the tart shells. They will probably have puffed up or lost their shape a bit. Use the same flat bottomed measuring cup to press the bottom down and the sides back up. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until they are a deep golden brown and the dough has pulled away from the sides of the tins.
Let the tart shells cool completely on a wrack. They can be stored in their tins, in an airtight container for up to a week.
12 pre-baked GF Tart Shells (recipe above) at room temperature
a bit of softened butter
chilled Pomegranate Curd (recipe above)
The arils from 1 pomegranate
Whole pink peppercorns (around 6 for each tart)
Smear the bottom of each tart shell with the thinnest layer of soft butter to moisture proof it and then chill the crusts to set the butter.
Push the bottom of the tartlet tins to loosen the sides but leave them in the tins for support while you are filling them. I was making many, many tarts and I only own 12 tins, so I had popped mine out before this point and they held up just fine!
Fill each tart with about 2 Tablespoons of pomegranate curd. Sprinkle each tart with pomegranate arils and whole pink peppercorns.
Refrigerate the tarts until you are ready to serve them.