>> Thursday, October 1, 2009
This hybrid of tart/cake looks shabby. And it's all my fault. But it's so delicious that still it deserves a whole post. It's very similar to tarta de Santiago, very typical from Galicia, only in this case the eggs are whipped with the sugar until light and fluffy, yielding a much lighter tart than the Santiago type.
But let's start from the beginning. Like Sophia Petrillo, one of my idols, used to say: picture it, Sicily, 1920... ahem, Galapagar, non defined year... I had prepared this tart a long time ago, from a Thermomix recipe in the Internet (unknown author). I had found it delicious and very easy. I had baked it for some celebration where all the guests loved it. In spite of that, I had never made it again. And now I felt like testing it in a sugar-less fashion, for the sake of health. On top of that, it's a gluten-free recipe, double healthy. No baking powder either. Couldn't be simpler.
That's the original recipe and here goes my tweaking: I substituted 100g fructose and 50g agave syrup for all the sugar (fructose and agave are sweeter than sugar). I didn't dare to use only agave syrup because it's liquid and I was afraid it could interfere with the airing of the eggs (I don't know if that can happen). There's a lot of controversy regarding the benefits of fructose, I know... When you substitute agave syrup for sugar you need to reduce the global amount of liquid, therefore I used only five eggs instead of six.
Firstly grind the almonds if you haven't bought almond meal. Then whip the eggs with the sweetener until light, fluffy and almost white in color. In my Thermomix it's very easy: fit the butterfly, add the eggs and the sweetener or sugar, and set 8 minutes at 40° and speed 3 (Thermomix 21). Turn the heat off after 2 minutes and let the mixture cream for the remaining time. Of course you can cream the eggs with the sugar in any mixer, like here. Mild heat is supposed to aid the creaming, therefore I've seen the advice to put the mixture in a bowl which is inside another bowl with tepid water (I haven't tried this though).
Once the eggs are creamed, add the ground almonds and the lemon zest, either with the mixer or with a spatula. I forgot to add the lemon zest... that was my first mistake. The second mistake was that I used a removable-base mold that I only buttered and floured (with rice flour to keep the thing gluten-free); because of the high sugar content the tart is very sticky and it indeed got stuck to the base and walls. I had to struggle to peel it off, that's why its looks are not... let's say... perfect. OK, I could have used a beautiful frosting to hide the disaster, but I generally hate frostings, unless they are made of marzipan... but wait, that's not frosting, is it? I find a much wiser option is to line the mold with parchment paper, thoroughly buttered. I almost forget: bake the tart/cake in the oven at 180 ºC for half an hour approx., depending on the browning. Better try with a toothpick for doneness (a fondue stick in my case) . It rises quite a lot in the oven, although it sinks when cold (maybe that's not the purpose, but it does happen to me). But, in spite of all my mistakes, the flavor was excellent. The consistency is very moist and fluffy. You can play around with the almond, using a more finely ground or less finely ground almond. I like mine not too fine, so that you get a nice crunch in each bite. And I'm sure you're wondering if there is any noticeable difference by using fructose instead of sugar. Well, yes, fructose caramelizes at 110 ºC, while sugar does it at 160 ºC, therefore there's a noticeable caramel flavor which you don't get with sugar. That is, the result is different, but equally delicious. And a lot less energetic.
You can sprinkle some powdered fructose or cinnamon or both for finishing. I find that cinnamon is a good match. I encourage you to make this tart, I know you'll do it right, the same as me next time...