Guys! Do you remember when I made blackberry mocha squares? Well, I went a little further and decided to make some sea salt and mocha tartlets. I loved how my friend, Rebecca, from Figs & Pigs, used spelt flour to make little cupcakes for her birthday. I had never used spelt flour in baking before but really wanted to give it a go since it imparts such a lovely sweet, nutty flavour.
What can I say? It was a big hit in my building! Coffee, dark chocolate and spelt is a match made in heaven and with the addition of sea salt, this dessert is brought to a whole new level of chocolatey goodness.
At the moment, we are packing up our flat and sending quite a few things to charity (kitchen equipment, clothes, etc). Djamo filled 10 boxes with books alone (#bookhoarder) which have gone to my parents’ attic for safe keeping (mum, if you are reading this, don’t you dare sell or give any of my books to charity or the local library or school 😐 I still haven’t gotten over the last time…).
But, aside from all the practicalities and the sadness I feel at the thought of leaving this temperate climate and greenery I find myself surrounded by, this move back to the Middle East is going to be an interesting year for both myself and Djamo. I cannot wait to explore more areas with him and his mother when she comes to visit, nor can I wait to explore and research more about the cuisine of my home country. As a child, I never really took an interest in foods of the region. On the one hand, I simply took it for granted that everyone knew about ma’amoul (Arabian shortbread cookies stuffed with dates or nuts), and mahalabiya (rosewater and cardamom scented milk pudding), and even majboos diyay (aromatic rice and chicken). On the other hand, all I ever ate as a child – except during spaghetti-Fridays – was bowls of rice and tomato sauce. I got a small bag of chopped apples to bring to school with me (they turned brown by lunch time) and I usually ended up sharing a fatayar (a flat bread stuffed with cheese or even za’atar) with a friend. I loved how at school some kids would come in with a paprika pepper and eat it as one would an apple. I even had a friend who used to bring labneh and aubergine sandwiches – that kid was pretty popular.
Of course, I ate Filipino food at least once a week when my nanay was able to find ingredients to make something special for me. But, I think it was only when my dad started buying ‘interesting’ ingredients and getting ‘creative’ in the kitchen that I started taking an interest in culinary art. How could you not when confronted with ingredients such as chicken hearts (something I really look forward to eating when I go home), shark meat, and sheep brains. Before that, I guess I was a pretty picky eater. My sister, however, was the one who loved sucking shrimp heads of their juices, putting chicken feet in her mouth and spitting out the bones when they were cleared, and eating fish eyes and tongues. Now, I don’t even flinch at the sight of it. To me, it screams normality, even though screaming in itself doesn’t fit into normality…
I guess, in many respects, the next year is going to be about going back in time and showing Djamo all the different things I have experienced through cuisines I was introduced to as a child, and things I have yet to experience. So in regards to the blog, this is definitely going to be pretty fun and challenging.
Spelt Flour Tartlet Pastry
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Makes: 6 tartlets
250g spelt flour, plus extra for dusting
100g confectionary sugar
1 egg yolk
2-3tbsp cold water
1tsp ground vanilla
pinch of sea salt
100g dried rice (for blind baking)
Preheat the oven to 170ºC (150ºC fan-assisted) 325ºF. Sieve the spelt flour and the confectionary sugar together into a bowl. Add the vanilla and sea salt. Using your hands, crumble the butter into the mixture until the texture of wet sand. Add the egg yolk and the water, a tablespoon at a time until the pastry comes together.
Dust a clean surface with flour and roll out the pastry. Cut out desired sizes and place in the buttered tartlet tins and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. When ready, cut out 6 squares of baking parchment (slightly larger than the tartlet tins), place over each tartlet and pour enough rice into each so that it weighs the pastry down. Bake for 10-12 minutes before removing the parchment paper and rice. Bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.
When the tarts are cooled, make the mocha filling. When the filling is ready, pour into the ready tartlets. Dust with sea salt and refrigerate until ready to serve. Eat within 3 days.
Dark Chocolate Mocha Filling
170g 65% dark chocolate
2tbsp light coloured honey (I used acacia)
4-5tbsp freshly brewed coffee, cooled completely
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
120ml heavy cream
1tbsp sea salt (for decoration)
When the tarts are cooled, begin making the filling. Over a low heat, place all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and there is a unified colour. Pour into the cooled shells.
Thank you for reading.