Rhubarb & Custard Tarts with Crushed Hazelnuts
 
 
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: About 8-12 tarts, depending on pan size
Ingredients
For the custard:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup caster (superfine) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup cornflour (corn starch)
For the rhubarb:
  • 4-5 slim stalks rhubarb*
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
  • 1-2/3 metric cups (210g) (7.4 oz) plain flour (I used organic white stoneground flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
  • 110g (3.8 oz) butter, diced and chilled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons chilled water
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
To serve:
  • 1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts, toasted**
  • Icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) for dusting
  • Spray-free flowers for garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Grease a 12 hole muffin pan, or individual tart tins - I used 8 x 8cm (3 inch) wide tart tins.
For the custard: (Can be made ahead)
  1. Put the milk, 1/4 cup of the caster sugar and the vanilla in a saucepan and bring to just below the boil, i.e. scalding but not yet simmering.
  2. When the milk is just about at scalding point, whisk the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup of caster sugar and the orange zest in a bowl until pale then whisk in the cornflour.***
  3. Slowly add about a quarter cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture (whisking constantly), to temper the eggs so they don't curdle. While continuing to whisk, slowly add up to about half of the remaining hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Then add the contents of the egg yolk/milk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Over a low heat, and while continuing to whisk, bring the mixture to a boil (it needs to boil to activate the cornflour). Once it's boiled for about a minute, remove from the heat and continue whisking for 1 minute.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate when cool.
For the rhubarb: (Can be made ahead)
  1. Preheat the oven to 150˚C (300˚F).
  2. Cut the rhubarb into about 5 cm (2 inch) lengths and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the orange juice then the caster sugar and toss the rhubarb to coat. Lay the rhubarb in a single layer in a lined baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes until just tender but still holding its shape. Cool. NB: Once cooled, I placed the rhubarb on absorbent paper to soak up excess liquid.
For the pastry: (Dough can be made ahead)
  1. Put the flour, salt, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Combine the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of the water and add, pulsing again until the dough just starts to come together. Add the extra water only if necessary.
  2. Tip the contents onto a large piece of plastic wrap and bring the dough together to form a flat disc. Wrap and chill until firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (360˚F).
  4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench to 1/2 cm thick. If using a muffin pan, stamp out 12 x 10 cm circles. Otherwise measure for your individual tart tins and stamp circles out accordingly. Press the dough into the tins and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. Take out, then line each pastry case with baking paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and beans and brush the insides of the tarts with egg wash. Bake the tarts for a further 5-7 minutes (mine took more like 10-12 minutes) or until the pastry is fully cooked and golden. Cool completely.
To assemble:
  1. Slice half the rhubarb into smaller pieces and place in the base of the tarts (NB: I didn't do this - I used rhubarb only for the top of the custard). Top with the custard then the remaining rhubarb. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and a dusting of icing sugar. Place edible flowers over top, if desired.
Notes
*Depending on the size of your rhubarb stalks and tart tins, you might need to improvise with the sizes you cut your rhubarb into. My rhubarb stalks were quite large, so I split them into two, then trimmed them to fit into the tart pans I had.
**To toast hazelnuts, simply add them to a dry frypan (skillet) and dry roast them for several minutes, turning them frequently, until they're hot and you can smell their aroma (keep a close eye on them so they don't burn). Then wrap them in a tea-towel and rub them vigorously to remove their skins. Add the nuts to a food processor and pulse a couple of times to crush them.
***Only add the sugar to the egg yolks when you're ready to whisk; you shouldn't let sugar sit on top of unbeaten egg yolks as this can cause clumping.
NB: In New Zealand our organic eggs have very orange yolks, hence the bright golden colour of the custard.
Recipe by The Kiwi Cook at https://thekiwicook.com/2016/06/04/rhubarb-custard-tarts-with-crushed-hazelnuts/