Atypical birthday cake: cashew tart.

…Yesterday was our sous chef’s birthday…

Most of my coworkers in the kitchen have atypical tastes when it comes to food.  This oftentimes gives me a hard time deciding on what to get in terms of cake.  Whole and natural ingredients were the primary factors I cared for in this project.  I started by dissecting the different constituents of desserts they might prefer.  They would probably avoid feeling guilty if they know that my sweet creations contained less flour, no or non-white sugar, nuts, seeds, fruit, or starchy vegetables. 

I was thinking of making a carrot cake, but I didn’t have carrots in my fridge.  And I wasn’t sure how it would turn out…  So I decided to do the simpler task because I didn’t want to use the trial and error learning process on this particular creation.  After all, it’s someone’s birthday..  and I want to leave a wonderful memory, not a sickening one!

Of all the pastries I’ve made so far, tart is one of the most consistent doughs, which produces reliable result most of the time. 

I looked up the French recipe of almond frangipane to fill in tart shells (9” tart pan with a removable bottom and a few traditional round tart rings).  If it’s overly sweet for me, it would be impossible to gain an approval from my crew. I found myself cutting sugar (and I even used coconut sugar) to half volume.  To make the filling softer and perhaps less sweet, I added no-sugar greek yogurt to the completed frangipane.  As I wanted a crunchy texture of nuts in the filling, I added roasted cashews (chopped) that were baked with my favourite syrup (the orange blossom flavour). The creamy quality of cashew nuts made the dessert easier to swallow.

My goal was to make a thicker version of tart as a cake substitution, hence the classic frangipane would only make the whole tart heavier and my coworkers would perhaps take too long to finish each slice or keep it until the next day.. not acceptable! I had made strawberry pastry cream mousse a day in advance.  Any kinds of berries would go well with nuts.  I added the berry mousse to the recipe in an attempt to lighten the filling’s touch.

I piped some strawberry pastry cream directly on the base of the tart shells to 1/3 of height, before I filled in my a la mode almond-cashew frangipane.  I topped the tarts with the half pieces of roasted cashews (which I was going to use whole pieces, but they would have overwhelmed the filling).  After being baked, the finished surface of the frangipane should appear quite crusty but soft.  Then, I removed those tarts from the oven, lighting brushed them with the syrup, let them cool, and set the tarts in the freezer for a good 20-30 minutes.

My simple cashew tart was the outcome of a marriage among almond-cashew frangipane, light mixture, and crunchy texture.  It didn’t leave my crew feeling heavy, instead satisfied with the right amount of sweetness and sourness.  This turned out to be a fine substitution for a birthday cake if you want to find sort of a healthy dessert as a small gift for someone.

Time is precious and, if you spend time to make things for someone, the person will sense the gleam of warmth and care from you and your creations.

And my day ended so fast with my crew being happy… :)

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