22 Sep Matcha Panna Cotta & Black Sesame Tartlets
I had every intention of putting this magic in front of you all last week, but sorry team, time got away from me yet again. On Thursday morning, Steve and I boarded a flight to Newark for his best friend’s wedding (congrats Cassie + Jordan!), in which Steve was the most dapper, bow-tied best best man of all time (great speech, babe!). *heart-eyed emoji*
The plan as we knew it was to spend a night in New Jersey with his uncle, then head down to Pennsylvania for the wedding the next day. But when we got to Uncle Mike’s place on Thursday evening, SURPRISE!, Steve’s parents were there, hiding behind one very large refrigerator with (our favorite) chocolates, plenty wine and of course, the best of company. With only hours of quality time to be had and 2000+ calories of delicious Italian food to be consumed, who’s got time for blogging?
The following days were spent surrounded by amazing people in what has to be of the quaintest, most idyllic colonial towns in existence. In case you missed it there were sunflowers the size of dinner plates, pumpkin patch excursions, cider donuts (at one point scarfed drunkenly off of our historic inn’s ironing board, smothered with homemade strawberry jam…whoops), life-changing salted caramel ice cream topped liege waffles, and more early fall scenes than my I’m-so-excited-because-there’s-no-seasons-in-Texas heart could handle. I think it’s safe to say I’m quite smitten with the Northeast.
Today’s recipe might seem just a tad bit familiar…remember these? When I made matcha & hibiscus panna cottas a couple of weeks ago I was so inspired (and maybe a tad bit hopped up on caffeine) that I made far more base than was reasonable for two breakfast-sized portions. So, what do you do when life gives you extra matcha panna cotta? You tartlet, apparently.
At the time of conception I had vowed not to use the oven, but I was so tempted by the lure of a cookie-like sesame crust that I broke down and violated my own rule. Forgive me? It was just 35 measly minutes (they’re so easy!), and though I’m sure I paid for it in A/C bills, these tarlets were so, so worth the risk of sweaty pits. Lucky for you guys, we’re past those dog days of August and almost into full on fall-baking season. (Just one more day until shmumpkin is no longer a curse word around here!)
This beautiful black sesame crust is the stuff dreams are made of. The finely ground black sesame seeds create an almost granite-like appearance that, while perhaps unusual by comparison, adds an exotic feel to what is otherwise a fairly straightforward and classic tart dough.
Being the good half-Italian boy that Steve is, he grew up on his grandmother’s homemade sesame cookies and, at first taste, exclaimed that this crust was reminiscent of the treats of his childhood. So while Italian wasn’t exactly what I was going for here, if you’re a fan your nonna’s cookies, I think this crust easily spans the continental gap and will, for those less adventurous eaters, help you to sashay your way all fancy-like into Asian-inspired desserts. How’s that for a sales pitch?
And then there’s the matcha panna cotta. It’s seductively simple — no baking and just 5 key ingredients — yet still impressive AF due to the perceived fanciness of matcha. Much more impressive than a late-twenty-something home baker trying to spout colloquial acronyms like “the kids these days”, I assure you. Never underestimate how much the addition of a seemingly novel ingredient can elevate even the most uncomplicated of dishes.
Here, matcha’s grassy, lingering sweetness pairs ever-so-gently with the floral notes of local wildflower honey (support your local bee people!) and a slight tang from the greek yogurt base. The resulting dessert is a lightly-sweet and earthy, complex-yet-complimentary marrying of flavors and textures, with the ability to satisfy your after-dinner sweet tooth, without the heaviness of a traditional custard-filled tartlet. They’re a 2015 favorite in my book, for sure. Enjoy!
Black Sesame Tartlet Crust adapted from le jus d’orange
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground black sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cold and cut into cubes
- 1 cup coconut milk (full fat or light)
- 1 teaspoon gelatin
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons culinary-grade matcha
- 2 tablespoons honey
- chopped macadamia nuts, for garnish
- whole black sesame seeds, for garnish
- unsweetened whipped cream, for garnish
- Place cubed butter in the freezer to chill while you prep the other ingredients.
- Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and black sesame. Set aside.
- Whisk together yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Add the cubed butter and dry ingredients to a food processor and pulse until the dough resembles a coarse meal. Like a pie dough, you do not want to over mix.
- Add the cream mixture and pulse until dough just starts to come together, about 10 seconds.
- Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap and chill for at least one hour.
- While the dough is chilling, gently grease tartlet pans. Once chilled, unwrap the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 5 sections (you may be able to get 6, I could only get 5). Roll each section to about 1/8 inch thick then press into tartlet pans and trim the edges. Prick all over with a fork. Place in freezer for another 30 minutes.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Cover tartlet pans with foil (be sure to cover edges), and fill with pie weights or dry beans.
- Bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and carefully remove foil and weights. Bake for another 5-8 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely to room temperature before filling.
- Add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk to a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Add in the honey and stir until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, dissolve the matcha with about half of the warm coconut milk mixture, whisking until frothy and there are no chunks of tea. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, then add the remaining coconut milk and greek yogurt.
- Whisk until well combined then pour into the baked tart crusts. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream, chopped macadamia nuts and whole black sesame seeds.