Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tarta De Arresse and Natillas

Custard Tart Bilbao-Style: Tarta De Arrese
from The Basque Table by Teresa Barrenechea

2 cups whole milk

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 to 2 cups Sweet Basque Cream (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate.

2. In a blender or in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the milk, flour, egg yolks, and sugar. Blend just until the contents are mixed. Transfer them to a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a wire whisk to the "snow point"-just until they start to thicken to soft peaks.

4. Gently fold the egg whites and the melted butter into the milk mixture until the whites are almost completely incorporated. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pie plate, and bake it for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the custard is golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the custard on a wire rack until it is just lukewarm. Cut the custard into wedges, and serve them warm or cool. Spoon the Sweet Basque Cream onto the dessert plates, spreading it to cover the plate. Set a wedge of custard on top of the sauce.

Serves 8

Sweet Basque Cream: Natillas
from The Basque Table by Teresa Barrenechea

Natillas is often served as a dessert in itself, served in small custard cups but it is also used in many Basque recipes as a sauce. It is similar to crème anglaise.

1 quart heavy cream

2 cinnamon sticks

6 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon

1. In a saucepan, combine the cream and cinnamon sticks, and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until the cream is well infused with the cinnamon. Set the pan aside so the cream can cool.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until they are well mixed. Add the cream and cinnamon sticks, and whisk well.

3. Heat 1 to 2 inches of water in the bottom pan of a double boiler, and transfer the custard mixture to the top pan, or set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1 to 2 inches of hot water. Bring the water to a boil, and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, for about 30 minutes or until it thickens, adding more hot water to the bottom pan if necessary. Remove the top pan or the bowl from over the hot water, and let the custard cool.

4. Strain the cooled custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass or ceramic container, and refrigerate the natillas for at least 4 hours, until it is cool. Stir before serving, adding a little more heavy cream if necessary to smooth the natillas. Divide it among six custard cups or Custard Tart Bilbao-Sytle: Tarta De Arrese
transfer it to a pitcher to use as a sauce. Serve the natillas sprinkled with cinnamon.

Makes 5 to 6 cups. Serves 6