I may indeed be obsessed with polenta in my desserts.
- Evidence #1: Mulberry Lemon Polenta Muffins
- Evidence #2: Rhubarb, Pear & Ginger Crisp with Polenta Topping
- Evidence #3: These Gooseberry Polenta Tartlettes
But you know what?
I love polenta in my desserts. It adds that crunchy texture that is just divine. I can’t help it, it’s going in everything!
And what’s a girl to do when she’s invited to a dessert party on a Thursday night, but throw together some polenta mini tarts, in order to showcase the gorgeous gooseberries from this week’s trip to the Farmer’s Market!
I first discovered gooseberries when I was living in Austria for a summer, doing a summer program studying German Lieder (Art Song). Over there, they were called Stachelbeeren, and I never knew they were gooseberries. On my return to Canada, I discovered with great joy that my beloved Stachelbeeren grow here in Ontario!
A word of warning: these tarts are tart. Yes, they are indeed tart tarts. I love the way the sugar topping offsets the tartness of the early summer berries, but you can add a little more sugar to the filling mixture if your tastes run a little sweeter. Later in the summer, gooseberries aren’t quite as tart as these early ones; you won’t need as much sugar to compensate for the tartness of the berries.
I’ve also used a new-to-me ingredient in the tart shells: whole wheat pastry flour. It’s something I’ve been meaning to try in my regular white flour recipes since I read about how easily one can substitute whole wheat pastry flour for white flour (in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking). Heidi has a whole bunch of whole wheat pastry flour recipes at her blog, 101 Cookbooks, that are definitely drool-worthy!
I am so impressed with how the whole wheat pastry flour turned out in these shells! I’m not sure anyone would identify it as “whole wheat” flour, and this crust definitely tastes like shortbread. Gorgeous and flaky-crumbly delicious.
Gooseberry Polenta Tartlettes
Adapted from British Larder’s Gooseberry Polenta Slice, Makes 12 mini-tarts
Whole-Wheat Shortbread Pastry
- 50g sugar
- 125g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5g custard powder (or cornstarch)
- 125g whole wheat pastry flour
- 50g polenta (coarse-ground cornmeal, or grits, I use these)
Gooseberry Polenta Filling
- 1 large egg white
- 150g gooseberries (or blackberries would be divine here!), “topped and tailed” (remove the stems and leafy bottoms)
- 40g sugar
- 40g polenta
Polenta Sugar Topping, for dusting
- 5 g sugar
- 5 g polenta
First, make the pastry:
Cream the sugar and butter together until fluffy (easiest in a stand mixer, feel free to do this with a hand mixer, or by hand). Add the eggs, one at a time, and cream well. Then add in the custard powder, flour, and polenta, and mix until the pastry comes together.
Turn the pastry out of the bowl onto a piece of clingfilm, and wrap up in the clingfilm to cool in the fridge for one hour.
After an hour’s wait, prepare the filling:
Beat the egg white (again a stand mixer makes this easiest) until fluffy. Fold in the sugar and polenta, and mix gently until well combined. Add the gooseberries, and fold gently.
Assemble the tartlettes:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Roll out the pastry, between two layers of parchment, until it is about 6mm (or around 1/4″) thick. Cut out 12 squares of pastry, and press them into the mini tart pan. Smoosh the edges of pastry down around the edges, so they look nice.
Place a spoonful of gooseberry filling in each mini tart shell.
Combine the sugar and polenta to create the Sugar and Polenta Topping. Sprinkle each tartlette with the topping.
Bake the mini tarts at 350F for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry edges and topping are golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool before removing from the tart pan.
Serve and enjoy with a puckered smile!