In the novel “Blackberry Wine”, Joanne Harris’ follow up to Chocolat, the protagonist inherits some bottles of fruit in alcohol that have been steeping for around forty years. Each time he drinks one of them, he has hallucinations and then needs to drink another bottle to see what happens next. Or at least that’s Joanne Harris’ excuse for basing a novel around a drunkard who hangs out in a shed.
Around the time I read this book in the early noughties, I was thus inspired to bottle two little jars of fruit in alcohol; picota cherries in Remy Martin and blackcurrants in vodka. It never occurred to me that I would leave them so long but we only opened the cherries last year serving them with ice cream when some neighbours came to dinner. If I hadn’t written it on the label, their age would have been given away by the packaging: a blue and white labelled pill bottle from Damian Hirst’s long defunct restaurant and delicatessen, The Pharmacy.
We still have the blackcurrants in vodka sitting in my cellar. Maybe I should leave these for another thirty years to see if they have the same effect as in the book. Alternatively, I might use them in a tart rather like this one from The French Kitchen, the first of Harris’ two French cookery books written alongside Fran Warde.
This blueberry tart is the first recipe I have made from The French Kitchen for some time, but it won’t be the last. Filled with beautiful photographs and easy to follow recipes, I don’t know why I’ve neglected this book for so long. We had bought some 2 for 1 punnets of blueberries in the supermarket and this seemed a great way to make use of them.
It was also perfect pairing for a new ingredient in my cupboard: cinnamon paste. I found this thick sweet and spicy paste amongst “Morrison’s” Food Fusions Range. I do not usually shop in Morrison’s although this week I did, the reason why will become apparent in a couple of weeks’ time. I have not seen this paste anywhere else and it is my new best friend. If you cannot find it near you, I suggest you mix a tablespoon of jam with a generous amount of powdered cinnamon for a similar effect but it will be neither as thick or spicy.
Blueberry and Cinnamon Tarts
adapted from The French Kitchen by Fran Warde and Joanne Harris
This quantity of pastry is less than the amount that I made on the day; I had also made two larger quiches at the same time so half this amount would be enough for these tarts.
I made three five inch tarts with the equivalent of this amount of pastry but you would easily have enough ingredients here for one eight inch tart, possibly larger.
For the pastry
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
3-4 tbsp water
For the filling
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
100ml double cream
40ml creme de cassis
1. Preheat the oven to 190c or gas mark 5. Make your shortcrust pastry in the usual way. Rub the fats into the flour and salt until have you have a breadcrumb texture, gradually add several tablespoons of water and stirring in to bring the dough together. Knead gently then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Roll your pastry out on a floured surface large enough to make your pastry case(s). Press the pastry gently into your greased case(s). Prick the surface all over with a fork to stop shrinking and bake “blind” in the oven for 25 minutes. Do this by filling the case with a sheet of parchment paper and baking beans to stop the case rising in the middle.
3. Allow the cases to cool for a while before filling but they do not need to be completely cold. Spread the cinnamon paste over the base of the cases and fill generously with blueberries.
4. Mix the eggs, sugar, cream, flour in a pint sized jug. You can either mix the cassis into the egg mixture now or swirl it onto the mixture in the cases, up to you.
5. Pour mixture over the fruit. If you swirl the cassis over after the egg mixture it leaves a pretty trail that will show up after cooking. Sprinkle over a little caster sugar.
6. Bake for approximately 25 minutes until the surface is golden. They will puff up like souffles but settle down as they cool. Can be served hot if you are impatient but is best served cold with cream or ice cream.
Deeba PAB says
Gosh, great opening write-up. Am having hallucinatiuons of blueberry tart types Sarah! Fab little tarts, and lovely cinnamon paste – entirely intriguing! Just as well that we don't have blueberries here, else I'd have been in the kitchen right away! I LOVE THESE!
Morwenna Ellis-Philips says
Mmm they look divine, I quite fancy a slice with a dollop of extra thick Jersey cream…
Love the idea of steeping the fruits in alcohol for all those years and then discovering and enjoying them as a dessert!
Wow, these are more than just plain old comfort food! You have taken the simple blueberry tart to new heights! Just fantastic; yum!
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
@deeba You could use blackcurrants or raspberries if you have those
@morwenna It couldn't be simpler than the chuck fruit and booze in a bottle, the tricky part is having a cellar or shed to stash it in!
@jamie Thanks, I think this cinnamon paste is what makes them special. Maybe I'll start a craze!
The Cooking Ninja says
ooh yummy. Your tart look delish. I just discovered blueberry tart this summer when my MIL made it with crème pâtissière. 🙂 Never had blueberries this fresh before.
Insurance Telemarketing says
Oh man… I have to try it.
Chow and Chatter says
oh this looks wonderful and lovely post to read
It sure looks very delicious. Your pictures make it easy for me to follow. Thanks very much for sharing and showing.
Soooo.. how did the fruits in alcohol taste??? You are inspiring me to do the same!! Only I don't know if I have the patience to wait years. Just out of curiosity, what were your storage conditions?
Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) says
i've been wanting to do the same with fruits and alcohol and nearly tried out a few recipes for christmas but then never gotten around to it. The tarts look super good and so cute in their miniture molds. I got some molds like that but not had any chance to try yet! you've inspired me!!
Fantastic blueberry tarts! I especially like the cinnamon paste.This is a second recipe today I saw using small tart cases. I think it's a good excuse to get some 🙂
Oh yum, these look amazing. I read Blackberry Wine a few months ago – I actually rather enjoyed it I must say.
I've never heard of cinnamon paste, but am sure I will like it. Will have to go in search of it now.
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
@thecookingninja I am yet to master creme patissiere
@chowandchatter Thank you!
@marymoh Glad you like the pictures!
@ashafsk They tasted very good although I cannot vouch for whether they taste any better after 3 months or 3 years or 10 years. I kept them in dark cupboard and then five years ago I moved to a house with a cellar
@bethany @sari I got mini cases with removable bases from John Lewis. Worth the investment as you can use them if you have pastry leftover from bigger stuff
@su-yin It's not a bad book but I find her stuff a bit formulaic. Five quarters of the Orange was my favourite but I stopped reading her after Coastliners. I am supermarket scavenger for obscure ingredients and I have never seen cinnamon paste before. So Morrisons is the only place I can recommend to buy it.
Barbara Bakes says
I just bought a mini tart pan! These would be a perfect way to break it in!
Your Tartelettes look divine! I've never heard of cinnamon paste, I've learnt something. Thanks and have a great day!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Cinnamon paste is a new one for me too! I like the idea of using it with blueberries where I usually use vanilla 😀
Gourmet Chick says
These tarts look brilliant – I love blueberry muffins so I am sure I would love these as well. PS your bird hide piece was hilarious!
oh goodness! Morrisons has done well for that paste. Never seen it around but i'm sure that goes so well with the tart base and fresh blueberries. Oh, now i'm hungry again even after my cereal and morning coffee. LOL 🙂
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
@barbarabakes Go bake! You'll love them
@mamatkamal @diva Am intrigued that noone else had heard of this cinnamon paste either. I was expecting people to tell me other places that do it but it seems to be a new one on everyone!
@gourmetchick Ooh yes muffins with blueberries and cinnamon paste very good idea. Glad you liked the bird hide piece on Saturday!
What a gorgeous recipe, must try this! And "blackberry wine" sounds like a great read.
I have never heard of cinnamon paste… what a superb ingredient… I will search for some forthwith… great post and recipe… glad I found you!
Kitchen Butterfly says
They look fantastic and the photos are GREAT! That cinnamon paste is a must have….though if they had a vanilla version, I would sooner go for that but sounds like a great thing to have at home!
deer baby says
What a great post. I've only read Joanne Harris's Chocolat so it's inspired me to read this one. And, sorry to sound snobbish, but I would never have thought to look in Morrison's for anything so upmarket as that lovely sounding cinnamon paste. Not that we've got one but I know someone who has! Those adverts with Richard Hammond always put me off.
Mowie @ Mowielicious says
Oh those look divine! I was thinking of making some blueberry tarts the other day (and somehow I made the pavlova instead!). I'll be making them soon though. Your photos are scrummy yummy and very inspiring.
The tarts look fabulous, I love blueberries! I have my eye on the cinnamon paste, interesting.
(I'm also doing the pancake thing, am sick of them now though!)
I've heard weird things about Morrisons. I never shop there as I don't like the way they cellophane ALL the vegetables (well, last time I went anyway) but they do seem to have a good range of unusual ingredients. Another delicious looking post!
faithy, the baker says
Your blueberry tarts look out of this world! I'm coveting for your cinnamon paste! I don't see it selling here where i am..:( Maybe i'll make my own paste? LOL!
Jeanne @ Cooksister says
What perfecly gorgeous tarts! I'm always on the lookout for ways to use blueberries as I knwo they are good for you but I don't really care for them fresh… And that cinnamon paste from Morrisons looks addictively good!
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
@gastrogeek It is ok but I recommend her third book Five Quarters of the Orange more
@lostpastremember Welcome to Maison Cupcake!
@kitchenbutterfly Vanilla paste… now that sounds goooood
@deerbaby It was my first time in there for ages, I have to go quite out my way to get to one so Sainsburys, Waitrose and Asda are my first call
@mowie If you like my pictures I must be doing something right 🙂
@nicisme Yeah I am sick of pancakes big time!!
@jenny I didn't notice that about the vegetables…. I find the layout a bit odd in there and it's very dark
@faithy I need to start cinnamon paste export club I think!
@jeanne Blueberries are definitely better cooked I agree. If you cut open a raw one they're not even blue inside, horrid pale green colour but they get their colour when they're cooked. Very strange.
I wonder if your blackcurrant vodka tastes good too (I love sloe gin, which is made in the same way) …
Thanks for entering Sugar High Friday 🙂
I love the idea of that cinnamon paste! That must be so good and these tarts look amazing!
The Gypsy Chef says
Yum! This looks wonderful. Comfort food? How about perfect food! Love your blog. Glad I found it!
Sweets By Vicky says
I imagine thise warmedup up, with a scoop if vanilla bean icecream. Lovin' the photos! 🙂
Not generally a pastry fan (cooking thereof rather than eating), I think I might just have to take a deep breath and make these – they look so toothsome. Also intrigued by the cinnamon paste – will have to look out for it.