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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recipe: The Spice Baron - Mango Saffron Custard, Candied Meyer Lemon, Cardamom Crumb and Golden Grahams Tart Crust

Recipe: The Spice Baron
Mango Saffron Custard, Candied Meyer Lemon, 
Cardamom Crumb and Golden Grahams Tart Crust
Baked 06.27.14

Overhead of plated Spice Baron tarts

Meyer Lemon / Mango / Saffron / Cardamom / Ginger

Requested by

Do I start at the top or the bottom?

Spice Baron mango custard and cardamom tarts

Last night I had a nightmare that I was being chased by an angry horde of saffron threads. I only wish I were joking. They were small in number, but they were strong.

"Is this saffron which I smell before me?"

I've learned my lesson. A little saffron goes a long way.

In retrospect, with all of these assertively aromatic spices, I'm starting to think the original ingredients list may have been a bit of a prank. My taste buds have been on overdrive for the last five days, and I'm increasingly tormented by phantom odors of saffron and cardamom. Either the Spice Baron is truly living up to its name, or I have been suffering a series of mini-strokes.

From the outset, I knew I wanted this week's creation to be a plated dessert. Fun for presentation - not suitable for delivery via the NYC public transit system.

- The Components -
& Recipes

Rather than provide the whole process behind assembling the Spice Baron, I thought it would be more useful to share the recipes for some of the key components that can be used in a multitude of ways. A few single serving dishes of Mango Saffron Custard with Cardamom Crumb will be a lot quicker to prepare, and they'll certainly taste as good!

  • Golden Grahams Crust - 20 minutes active prep time; 30 minutes to overnight to rest dough
  • Mango Saffron Custard - 45 minutes active prep time; 4 hours to set custard
  • Candied Meyer Lemon - 25 minutes active prep time; 45 minutes simmering
  • Cardamom Crumb - 10 minutes active prep time; 20 minutes baking 

For some general recipe reminders, check out this post.

Golden Grahams Crust:
"Mmm... breakfast pie..."

For this recipe, I modified the chocolate pate sucree recipe from the Raspberry Midnight. Golden Grahams cereal takes the place of the cocoa powder. The result is amazing. This dough will be showing up in a lot of places in the future.

Golden Grahams cereal pie crusts

Yield: Dough for one double 9" pie crust or ten 4" x 0.75" individual tarts

  • All Purpose Flour: 240g (2.0 Cups)
  • Confectioner’s Sugar 90g (0.75 Cup)
  • Golden Grahams Cereal: 100g, crushed (2.5 Cups)
  • Cold Butter: 225g (1 Cup / 2 Sticks)
  • Cold Egg Yolks: 2 Count
  • Ice Water: 60g (0.25 Cup)
  • Kosher Salt - 6g (1.0 Tsp)

1. Using a rolling pin, crush the Golden Grahams cereal inside a towel wrapped plastic freezer bag. Do not create a fine dust. Some larger pieces are good for texture. Combine the flour, confectioner's sugar and crushed Golden Grahams cereal in a large mixing bowl.

2. Remove the butter from the refrigerator. Cut the butter into 16 tablespoon sized pieces (use those helpful measuring lines on the sticks). Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter (i.e. chop it) into the dough until all of the butter has been broken down into pea-sized pieces. The butter should still be firm. The dough should still be dry.

3. Beat the egg yolks with the ice water and pour it over the dry flour & butter mixture. Using the blade of a spatula, cut into the dough, working to incorporate the water & egg with the flour without melting the butter. The goal is to get the dough to just barely bind together around the small pieces of butter. The dough should appear shaggy and just stick together into small balls when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add more ice water (one tablespoon at a time). Adding too much water will make for a less flaky dough.

4. Divide the dough into two equal portions (in the general shape you ultimately plan to roll out.. circle... square... hexagon) and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator to rest and cool for at least 30 minutes, but ideally overnight.

5. Prepare and bake the dough according to your specific recipe directions (typically 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20-25 minutes).

Mango Saffron Custard:
"You must cook the mango before you set it, or you can forget it!"

Mango custard is challenging because the natural enzymes in raw mango (and many other tropical fruits like pineapple, kiwi and even root ginger) impede the process by which some custards set. In the end, I was able to get the custard to set by first cooking the mango (which denatures the enzymes). As for the saffron, this recipe-of-record calls for less than the amount I had been using in testing.  Don't be fooled by the delicate, mild smell. Even when combined with other ingredients, it stays prominent.

Yield: Approximately 550g or 2.25 Cups of custard

  • Ripe Mangos - 2 Count (approximately 300g each)
  • Egg Yolks - 4 Count
  • Coconut Milk – 180g (0.75 Cup)
  • Sugar - 50g (0.25 Cup)
  • Saffron Threads – 15 count or to taste (this is for high quality, stigma-only saffron)
  • Gelatin Powder – 5g (approximately 1.5 Tsp)

1. Peel and dice the fruit of two mangos. Puree the mango in a food processor until smooth. Pass the puree through a mesh sieve to remove any coarse fibers (yields approximately 350g or 1.5 cups of puree).

2. In a medium sauce pot, slowly bring the puree to a simmer over medium heat. Set aside to cool.

Chef’s Note: The heating process is necessary to denature enzymes in the raw mango that would otherwise prevent the custard from setting. If you use canned mango (but why would you?), you can skip this step as the enzymes are denatured during the canning process.

3. Create an infusion of saffron. In a small bowl, pour 0.25 Cup hot (but not boiling) water over saffron threads. After 2 minutes, while the water is still quite warm, sprinkle the gelatin powder over the surface of the water and let it bloom for 5 minutes.

Chef’s Note: Creating an infusion or ‘tea’ with the saffron helps release the aromatic chemicals. By using this same fluid to bloom the gelatin, which is necessary to prevent unappetizing clumps from appearing in the custard, the additional water content of the custard is kept low, resulting in a better texture. 

As a rule, one packet or 7g (about 2.5 teaspoons) of gelatin will firmly set 2 Cups of fluid and will help stabilize 3 Cups of fluid. This recipe uses an even lower ratio as the egg yolks are the primary binder for the custard.

4. Combine the coconut milk, sugar, and saffron & gelatin infusion in a medium sauce pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Bring to a low simmer and remove from heat.

5. Lightly beat the egg yolks and stir them into the cooled mango puree. While actively whisking, slowly pour the warm coconut milk mixture into the egg yolk & puree mixture in a steady stream. Return the fully combined mixture to the stove and slowly bring to a simmer (approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit) while actively whisking – approximately 10 minutes.

6. Remove the custard from the heat an continue to whisk for 2-3 minutes. The custard will continue to thicken.

7. Transfer the custard to individual serving dishes and refrigerate, covering the dishes with plastic wrap (do not let the plastic wrap touch the top of the custard as it sets). If using the custard as a filling, chill the entire recipe in an airtight container until firm. Before using, whip the custard in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment for 30 seconds.

Candied Meyer Lemons:
"When life gives you lemons, make candy"

Candied meyer lemons

  • Meyer Lemon - 3 Count
  • Sugar – 1.5 Cups
  • Water – 1.5 Cups

1. Thinly cut each lemon into round slices (~1/16th inch thick) and remove the seeds.

2. Blanche the lemon slices… twice. In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 Cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and carefully add the lemon slices. After one minute, remove the lemons and place them in an ice bath. Bring another 2 Cups of water to a boil and repeat the process. 

Chef’s Note: The blanching process removes some of the bitter oils in the lemon rind and makes for a sweeter final product. However, blanching the slices more than two times can eliminate too much of the lemon flavor.

3. In a wide pan, combine the 1.5 Cups of water and 1.5 Cups of sugar and bring to a rolling simmer. Add the lemons in a single layer and keep at a just-bubbling simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the lemons are soft. The syrup should never get much hotter than 215 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Carefully remove the lemon slices and arrange in a single layer on a silpat lined sheet pan to cool. Allow the syrup to cool and save as well! Store the lemon slices in the refrigerator in an air-tight plastic container covered in some of the reserved syrup.

Cardamom Crumb:
"Now why didn't I think of that?"

Sweet and buttery crumbs are great toppings for everything... cakes, ice cream, custards. This cardamom variation is a uniquely spicy take that works well for both sweet and savory combinations.

Yield: Approximately 1.5 Cups

  • Butter - 85g (6 Tbls / 0.75 stick)
  • Milk Powder - 30g
  • Cardamom - Seeds from 12 pods (approximately 1 Tsp ground)
  • Ground Ginger - 2.0 Tsp
  • All Purpose Flour - 120g
  • Brown Sugar - 50g
  • Granulated Sugar - 25g

1. Pre-heat the oven the 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Remove cardamom seed from pods and grind into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle. In a mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well.

3. Melt the butter and pour over the dry ingredients. Using a fork, mix the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should appear sandy with some larger crumbs formed. The mixture should not bind into a single ball of dough.

4. Spread the crumbs in a single layer on a silpat lined sheet pan and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

5. Remove the crumbs from the oven and cool on the baking sheet. The cooked crumbs should still be moist when removed from the oven but will dry and harden as they cool.

- The Finished Product -

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