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Tartlet Alphonse

It may be late winter in the US but this time of year marks the beginning of the Mango season in India and the 'Alphonso' is the reigning king of the hundreds of varieties that sequentially make their appearance.
http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/travel/10mumbailetter.html
Although the canned variety is never as good as the real thing, the uniformity in sweetness & texture renders it useful for baking purposes. I tried to recreate the taste of a refreshing mango punch ( referred to as 'aam ka panna' in hindi) made with ginger, mango pulp & a hint of cardamom.
The tart pastry recipe is from Carole Walter's book 'Great pies & tarts, p. 104, with minor substitutions (ghee instead of vegetable shortening and equal parts of All purpose flour & pastry flour)

Makes 9-10
Tart Pastry:
  • 3/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup frozen butter diced
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee partially frozen
  • 1/2 cup iced water
  • 1/3 teaspoon Salt
Alphonso mango filling:
  • 1 cup Canned Alphonso mango cut into strips
  • 1/8 cup extract from fresh ginger root
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 pods, cardamom seeds, crushed fine
  • 10-12 unsalted pistachios, slivered
  • 9-10 Candied kumquat peels, chopped fine (optional)
  1. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 5 seconds till the ingredients are combined.
  2. Add half the butter & ghee and pulse 4-5 times before processing for a further 5 seconds. Add the remaining butter & ghee & repeat the process. The texture of the flour should be similar to cream of wheat with pea sized pellets of butter.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Using a kitchen fork to push the mix towards the center of the bowl, add the chilled water, a tablespoon at a time. The mix will begin clumping into dough with each addition of the water.
  5. To test if the mixture has enough water, gather the dough & press against the side of the bowl to see if it holds up & does not crumble. If the mix is crumbly keep adding water in smaller increments till the dough holds up.
  6. Using floured hands,press the dough against the side of the bowl and flatten into a disk. Liberally dust with flour and cover the disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed.
  7. Heat oven to 325 F.
  8. For fresh ginger extract, peel a 2 -3 inch piece of the fresh root and grate it using the fine shredder of a box grater. Squeeze out the juice from the shredded ginger. leave to settle for ~ 5 minutes before decanting the brownish extract from the top. Discard the white starchy sediment settled in the bottom.
  9. In a saucepan, combine the orange juice, confectioners sugar, ginger extract, cardamom & the cornstarch and stir continuously on low heat till the mixture resembles a thick custard like paste. Add the candied Kumquat peel at this point if you wish.
  10. Add the mango strips & combine well. remove from stove & set aside.
  11. Remove the pastry dough from the freezer and roll into a 1/16 inch thickness ( I use those measuring bands at the end of the rolling pin).
  12. Cut out 4 in circles using a biscuit cutter & fit into the cups of a muffin pan ( confession: I have yet to invest in a proper tart pan). You will have some pastry dough left over. Simply re-wrap & freeze for future use.
  13. Drop about 1 tablespoon of the mango mixture into the centre of the tartlet shells.
  14. Bake at 325 F for about 15-20 minute or until the bottom & outer sides of the tartlets are golden brown.
  15. Allow to cool, garnish with slivered pistachios & serve with a steaming hot cup of Masala Chai.

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