Blood Orange & Cinnamon Vanilla Tarts
R Hints of cinnamon, blood orange, and vanilla. These little tarts bring together my favorite flavors of the season. Perfect for a special dessert, or a guilty-pleasure breakfast, these tartlets are packed with layers of flavor and texture.
With each new season comes change. As seasons linger, we often find ourselves waiting and hoping for that change. We count the days, watch the weather, plan for far away days, and wonder what will soon be in store for us. And sometimes, we get ahead of ourselves. As winter roars around us, we live in spring and summer.
Now that winter is winding down, and as spring is fast approaching, already here for many of us, I find myself staring my favorite time of the year down. I love the warm days, but with a hint of bitterly cold morning. I love the pastel greens popping up on trees, but the still bare gardens waiting to be tended. I love that even though the year is three months old, it finally feels like it’s time to begin new things, to tackle those new challenges, to reinvent what we did in the previous year, and to reimagine what we never had a chance to.
And I love the ingredients we get this time of the year. The few weeks before spring approaches belong to the warm spices and vanilla-backed hearty desserts of fall and winter, and to the citruses that welcome us into spring and summer with their bright, crisp flavors and bold, gorgeous colors. It’s flavors like those, and recipes like this, that mirror our own ambition and excitement. We can’t help but look forward, and sometimes back, as we tread through each day. It’s what we do.
- 1 qt. milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Zest strips from 2 blood oranges
- 2 oz. cornstarch
- 8 oz. sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 3 eggs
- 3 oz. unsalted butter
- 2 blood oranges, segmented with pith and zest removed
- ¼ cup honey
- Prepare the short dough and the italian meringue and set aside in the refrigerator to chill.
- Place the milk in a heavy bottomed pot. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and scrape the seeds into the pot. Add the seed pod as well. Add the cinnamon sticks and blood orange zest strips (careful that the zest strips don't contain any of the pith). Bring the milk to a simmer.
- Once the milk has reached a simmer, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool to room temperature with the vanilla bean pod, cinnamon stick, and blood orange zest strips in it.
- In the mean time, mix the cornstarch, sugar, salt and eggs together in a bowl. Set aside.
- After the milk has reached room temperature, remove the vanilla bean pod, cinnamon stick, and blood orange zest strips
- Bring the milk back to a simmer. Once the milk begins to simmer, slowly pour some of the milk into the sugar mixture while whisking vigorously to temper the eggs. Return the tempered egg mixture to the pot with the remaining milk.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat and bring it to a boil, stirring or whisking constantly. Once at a boil, continue cooking for another 30 seconds to ensure the cornstarch taste is cooked out.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Mix until the butter is completely melted.
- Allow the custard to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to chill. Chill for 2 hours or until completely chilled and set.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Once the dough has chilled, roll it out to about ⅛-1/4" thickness. Using a sharp paring knife, cut out circles about 2" wider in diameter than the tartlet pans. Carefully place the dough in each pan, pushing it down to fill in the corners. Cut off the excess. Refrigerate the dough in the pans for 30 minutes.
- Once chilled and hardened again, line each tart pan with parchment paper, pressing it against the bottom and sides of the dough. Fill each pan with pie weights or dry beans.
- Place the weighted tart pans in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough has set.
- Carefully remove the pie weights or beans, and the parchment paper, and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool.
- Once cool, fill each tart with enough custard to reach the top.
- In the meantime, heat the honey in a pot over medium-low heat, just until it thins out. Top each tart with a few blood orange segments, and brush the orange segments with the honey.
- Top each tart with a dollop of italian whipped cream, and torch the whipped cream.