Since baking a chocolate ginger cake following a recipe torn from a magazine, I’ve become a huge fan of Lily Vanilli – the self-taught East London baker (actually Lily Jones) with a natural talent that is matched only by her creative flair, which turns everything she makes into a work of (edible) art.
Her new book Sweet Tooth arrived in the mail the other day (even that looks beautiful), and a quick look through makes me think that I might just have to bake every single thing in it. I’ve already played around with making honeycomb (not quite knowing what was going to happen, the first batch was something of a disaster, but the second is glorious), and with friends coming round for dinner I thought that these ganache tarts would make a great dessert.
In Sweet Tooth, Lily Vanilli makes her passionfruit ganache tarts by adding fruit to the chocolate filling, as well as using it to decorate the finished tarts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any passionfruit, but inspired by Lily’s encouragement to experiment – to make each recipe your own – I’ve used mango here instead, which although sweeter than passionfruit (and therefore unable to provide the sharp contrast she intended) still adds a lovely fruitiness to the dessert.
Lily Vanilli also includes a plain ganache tart with honeycomb, and having already made the honeycomb I decided to play around with that too. The finished tart is very sweet, visually striking and absolutely delicious. I haven’t included either recipe here (the ganache differs only slightly from that below), so let me know if you’d like more details…
As someone who’s never been very accomplished at pastry-making, I think it’s worth pointing out here that I got on surprisingly well with making the sweet shortcrust pastry required for the tarts. If you don’t already have a trusted recipe for this, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s also a long time since I made pastry by hand, but found that touching it – engaging with it – made the process more tangible, and it was easier to understand what was happening at each stage.
Recipe: Ganache Tarts with Mango
For the Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
250g plain flour
100g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cubed or grated and refrigerated
2 egg yolks
Method (by hand)
Sift the flour, icing sugar and salt from a height onto a cool, clean, dry surface. Add the butter and work into the flour – work towards the middle, rubbing the mixture between your thumb and fingers but handling it as little as possible – until it resembles bread crumbs.
Whisk together the egg and yolks and add them to the mix. Use a cold knife to bring it together into a ball of dough, taking care not to over-mix. Flour lightly, pat into a flat round and wrap it in clingfilm, placing in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out.
Ingredients (makes 12)
1 batch of sweet shortcrust pastry (as above)
Egg wash – 1 egg yolk beaten with 25ml double cream or milk
200ml double (heavy) cream
350g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
Flesh of 1 ripe mango, mashed
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan assisted).
Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thickness and cut rounds to fit a 12-hole cupcake / muffin tray, allowing extra to cover the sides (approximately 10cm for a standard tray). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line, weigh down with baking beans and blind bake for around 10-15 minutes, or until starting to brown. Remove from the oven, brush all over with the egg wash and bake for another 2 minutes to seal. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the ganache, heat the cream in a double broiler until it starts to simmer. Your aim is to heat the cream until it’s just hot enough to melt chocolate but not much hotter, so keep an eye on it and don’t let it boil – it’s ready when it starts to bubble up just at the edge.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring to melt. If necessary you can return the mixture to the double broiler very briefly, but make sure it doesn’t overheat.
Stir in the fruit – leaving some to decorate the finished tarts with – and allow to cool slightly before spooning evenly into the cooled pastry cases.
Place in the fridge to set (approximately 1 hour), and spoon the remaining fruit on the top of the tart before serving.