Berry Custard Tart

Glazed fresh fruit tart looks so elegant and summer-ish. They are the perfect dessert, whether your meal is casual or formal. In some ways, I guess its a version of a fruit pizza.

Apart from the fresh fruit and glaze, pastry cream adds a nice base to the tart. A custard pudding hybrid, pastry cream is used for ‘filling’, in the cold form, not as a pudding. Widely used to fill desserts like napoleons, cakes, cream puffs, tarts, etc.

To define, pastry cream is basically custard thickened with cornstarch and has a higher stability as compared to custard puddings which use just eggs to achieve their creamy texture. Vanilla is the classic flavor because it has to complete other flavors of the dessert. Pure vanilla is always best as the artificial flavorings add bitter taste profiles. In addition, some alcoholic desserts use pastry cream mixed with rum.

This tart has a layer of vanilla pastry cream, topped with raspberries and blueberries then brushed with an apricot glaze.

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Berry Custard Tart
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Pastry Cream
  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk & 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks & egg. Stir together the remaining sugar & cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you don't cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan; slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don't curdle or scorch on the bottom.
  3. When the mixture comes to a boil & thickens, remove from the heat. Stir the butter & vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat proof container & place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled then beat until smooth with an electric mixer before using.
Other Prep Work
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line an oblong tart pan with thawed puff pastry. The short ends of the pastry should be even with the bottom of the pan but the long sides should come up to the top of pan sides. With a sharp knife, score the long sides where the sides meet the bottom of pan. Do not cut all the way through. Pierce the center of the pastry with a fork. Whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the edges of the pastry shell with the egg wash.
  3. Bake the pastry shell for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool completely. If needed, press the center down lightly to create an indentation. Cool while preparing filling.
  4. Rinse & carefully dry fruit on paper towels. In a small blender, puree apricot preserves with water or liqueur until smooth.
Assembly
  1. Place smooth pastry cream in a piping bag with a large flat tip. Carefully pipe pastry cream in long strips to cover the bottom ONLY of the puff pastry shell.
  2. Arrange a row of raspberries down both sides of the tart; close to the edge & close to each other. Using a long straight edge helps to place the fruit in an even line.
  3. To 1/3 of the apricot glaze add some red food coloring to help accent the natural color of the raspberries. Apply a couple of light coats of the glaze carefully to the raspberries.
  4. Fill the center of the area with blueberries, being careful to distribute evenly in rows. Using the remainder of the un-colored apricot glaze, give several light coats to blueberries. Chill until ready to serve.

Ground Beef Ratatouille Galette

Ratatouille is a classic dish of southern France. Served as a side dish, hot or cold, arranged in a casserole or individual plates, its a recipe that lends itself to many different main dishes.

Ratatouille can be a challenging dish to pair with meat because the rich and luxurious flavors come from the freshness of the vegetables. There are, however, many types of meat that would not compete with ratatouille and still keep the meal light & satisfying.

For the meat lover, beef can make this meal quite enjoyable. Hence the inspiration for this galette: eggplant, squash, onion and tomato. Roasted together in the oven over a layer of seasoned beef all in a sturdy homemade pastry crust. Brion & I thought this vegetable-beef ratatouille came together in one harmonious blend and made a super nice meal.

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Ground Beef Ratatouille Galette
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Cuisine French
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until most of it resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. Form a well in the center. Sprinkle with 4 Tbs. of the ice water. Mix with your fingertips until the dough holds together enough to form a ball. If too dry, add the remaining water by the teaspoon, and mix until the dough comes together.
  2. Form the dough into a ball, put it between two sheets of plastic wrap, and then press it into a 12-14-inch round. Wrap it tightly in more plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Veggies
  1. Wash & slice veggies; set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
Beef Filling
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat. Brown beef until no longer pink; season with salt & pepper. Remove beef from skillet with a slotted spoon & set aside.
  2. In the beef drippings, sauté shallot & 1 tsp Herbs de Provence until caramelized. Add beef back to pan with crushed tomatoes & 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir & simmer for 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove dough from fridge. Transfer pastry circle to a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. Spread beef /sauce mixture evenly inside the circle leaving about 3" of dough from the edge. Place the veggies in a spiral, rotating for some color interest. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt 2 tsps Herbs de Provence & some black pepper.
  3. Fold edges of dough over filling, making sure there are no cracks. Brush the galette dough with egg wash.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes or until veggies are roasted & pastry is golden. Allow to cool slightly then slice & serve.

Mushroom Crust Quiche

Quiche, the great savory dish that originated in Germany, was perfected by French cooks who went on to create one of the most popular quiche in the world called the quiche Lorraine. Since then, many new variants of the quiche have been added. But all of those creative modifications involved mainly the filling, and the crust had that same nice and familiar, but plain taste. For that reason, many cooks didn’t bother with the crust dough preparation; instead they would buy good frozen puff pastry and concentrate on the filling.

Enter the unique mushroom crust quiche! To my knowledge, the first publication of the recipe was in the mid 1970’s in ‘Sunset’s Favorite Recipes’ cookbook magazine. The main advantage of this recipe is that the mushroom crust is nice and light as well as it goes with almost any quiche filling.

For a crunchier crust, use wheat thins instead of saltines, regular onions instead of green or change up the spices. Use your choice of cheese, instead of Swiss go with Monterey Jack, gruyere, Jarlsberg or cheddar. Add bacon, sausage or some pulled turkey as I did. Of course, nothing wrong with just using veggies and cheese …. endless possibilities!

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Mushroom Crust Quiche
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Instructions
  1. In a skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook until soft. Stir in crushed crackers. Remove from heat & press the mushroom mixture evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 8-9-inch pie pan.
  2. In the skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add green onions & cook until soft; spread over mushroom crust.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  4. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the grated Swiss cheese over the onion then top with the cooked, pulled turkey.
  5. In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk, spices, salt & pepper. Combine the remaining Swiss cheese with the parmesan & sprinkle it over the turkey. Pour egg mixture over all & bake for about 30 minutes or until set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Tourtiere Galette

Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.

While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.

Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.

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Tourtiere Galette
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Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
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Cornmeal Pastry
Course Main Dish
Cuisine French
Servings
Ingredients
Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas.
  2. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
  3. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Filling
  1. Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
  3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
Recipe Notes
  • Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.

Comte Apple Pie Bites

Cheese, generally speaking, is not a tough sell. Even so, it is hard sometimes to convince someone to stray from the usual cheesy standbys and try something new. Comte is a creamy, nutty tasting French cheese that absolutely deserves to be checked out.

A fairly firm cheese that can be sliced, cubed or grated. Besides being versatile for uses in both sweet and savory cooking, Comte has a good shelf life. If you buy a wedge and it doesn’t get entirely used up, it can sit in the fridge for a week or three and it will be fine.

Cheese and dessert pairings are almost better than cheese and wine pairings. If you have the right cheese and dessert, the contrasting flavors complement each other so well you’ll never eat one without the other again. Your probably quite familiar with apple pie and cheddar cheese. The nutty, earthy flavor of the Comte cheese in these little pie bites definitely kicks that ‘sweet-savory’ appeal up a notch.

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Comte Apple Pie Bites
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
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Apple/Cheese Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings
Ingredients
Apple/Cheese Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Cube butter & cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter is about pea size & mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing with a fork ONLY until dough starts to pull together. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface & shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic & chill for an hour.
Filling
  1. Place the chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar & lemon juice into a skillet over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has completely evaporated & the apples have softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat & place in a small bowl; add flour. Stir to combine. Cool completely before using. If apples are too wet, drain away any excess liquid.
Assembly
  1. Prepare egg wash. Remove pastry from fridge & roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 18 rounds.
  2. On each round place a heaping teaspoon of apple filling & sprinkle with a bit of Comte cheese. Fold in half & seal with a fork or alternately use a perogy cutter to cut , fold & seal.
  3. Place the mini turnovers on a parchment lined baking sheet & keep in the fridge or freezer while you continue to make the rest of the pastries.
Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Brush egg was all over the pastry crusts. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse sugar. Bake for about 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  3. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese & place pastries on a wire rack to cool.

Tarte Tatin w/ Onions, Cheese & Thyme

If you’re familiar with the French dessert called ‘Tarte Tatin’, you know that it is an upside-down caramelized apple tart. Basically, the apples are underneath the pastry. As with many things of brilliance, the creation was actually an accident. Named after the woman who invented it, Caroline Tatin, who had become a little distracted while baking an apple dessert at her hotel restaurant. She mixed butter, sugar and peeled apples, poured the mixture into a baking dish, completely forgetting the pastry. The mixture cooked & caramelized before she realized there was no pastry under it. In attempt to save the dessert, she placed some pastry on top and returned it to the oven. The result was Tarte Tatin with deliciously inversed flavors.

Onions are really a perfect bridge to take a normally sweet dish into the savory world.  They already caramelize beautifully and when you add honey, spices, cheese and puff pastry, there’s really not a lot that could go wrong. The same traditional Tarte Tatin concept in a savory version. 

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Tarte Tatin w/ Onions, Cheese & Thyme
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cut each onion lengthwise into 12 wedges, leaving roots intact.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions; cook, turning occasionally, until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar & honey (or apple cider vinegar & brown sugar); cook for 5 minutes. Add thyme, salt & pepper; sprinkle with Parmesan. Remove from heat.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll pastry sheet to remove any crease lines. Using a knife, cut pastry into a 13-inch circle. Place pastry onto onions, carefully tucking edges down into skillet. Cut 2 small slits in top of pastry to release steam.
  5. Bake until pastry is puffed & golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Carefully invert tarte onto a serving platter. Serve immediately. Garnish with thyme if desired.

Plum Blossom Pastries

Its getting to be late summer/early fall and its ‘plum season’. Plums are easy to forget it seems. They’re not the most popular of summer fruits. Plums aren’t exotic as the fig or small and cute like blueberries. Plums are just plums and we should not overlook this humble fruit. They are actually quite special …. sweet & tart, not too big and not too small.

This particular dessert uses ‘plum butter’ which is simply a concentrated plum spread made by cooking plums down to a spreadable paste. These ‘cookies’ are using ready made puff pastry to keep life simple.

Puff pastry isn’t just for croissants. Arguably, its the foundation of many, many pastries as we know them today. Its a technique that lets you enjoy warm, flaky layers of dough instead of literally everything being a ‘biscuit’.

Using this spicy filling in the puff pastry dough really added a whole new dimension.

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Plum Blossom Pastries
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Course dessert
Cuisine French, German
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Spicy Plum Butter
Course dessert
Cuisine French, German
Servings
Ingredients
Spicy Plum Butter
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Instructions
Spiced Plum Butter
  1. In a large saucepan, combine juice & plums. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat & simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Place plum mixture in a food processor & process until smooth. Press pureed mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
  2. Combine plum mixture, sugar & spices in pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered until mixture becomes a thick paste. Cool. Any extra not used for these cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Thaw pastry. Preheat oven to 400 F. From parchment paper, cut 9 pieces each about 4-inch square. In a small dish, whisk together egg & water to make egg wash.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into 9 squares. Taking one square at a time, place on parchment paper squares. Brush edges with egg wash.
  3. Place about 1 tsp of the spiced plum butter in the middle of the pastry square. Bring the 4 corners together, then repeat for the sides.
  4. Shape pastry into a ball then flip. Lightly press the ball with your fingers. With a sharp knife, cut each piece into 12 equal parts from the center towards the outside edge. Leave the center part intact. Each part will become a pedal. Twist petals 45 degrees, all to the same side. The filling should be showing.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Dust with powdered sugar if you prefer.
Recipe Notes
  • Making the plum butter ahead of time definitely speeds up the cookie prep.
  • Alternately, you can probably find a nice jar of plum butter at a deli store & just add your own spices to it. Works too!

Sour Cherry & Saskatoon Galette

Fresh fruit in the summer is one of life’s simple pleasures …. juicy, sweet and/or tart …. they’re like summer jewels.

The saskatoon berry is one of North America’s great unappreciated fruits. Although its easy to confuse them with blueberries, the two fruits are quite dissimilar. The most distinctive feature of saskatoon berries is their almond-like flavor. Saskatoons are in the same branch of the rose family that includes apples, pears, hawthorn and quince.

These little gems are a truly wonderful Canadian fruit with the bulk of their natural range being in British Columbia and the prairie provinces. Come July, many of the U-Pick farms in our area have fresh saskatoons ripening on their trees.

Pairing sour cherries with saskatoons in this dessert is a perfect match. One is tart and juicy, the other is sweet and plump making a good balance.

The (sour) ‘prairie’ cherry was developed in Canada for colder climates. It was cross pollinated with a Mongolian cherry resulting in very hardy, trees producing a sweet-tart cherry.

Our little cherry tree is about 12 years old now. Since I have both of these fruits on hand right now, there is no reason to not make this galette!

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Sour Cherry & Saskatoon Galette
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Cornmeal Pastry
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Cornmeal Pastry
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Instructions
Cornmeal Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt & sugar. Add butter & with fingertips, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water & combine only until blended, do NOT overmix.
  2. Divide pastry into 8 equal portions & press into mini galette pan cups. Place in refrigerator until filling is ready to use.
Berry Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine berries, cherries & sugars. In a small dish, mix lemon juice with cornstarch & add to berry mixture.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Remove pastry from fridge. Mound the berry mixture in each galette cup. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown & bubbly.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to make this into one round galette instead of individuals or to use frozen puff pastry. It will all taste just as good, believe me!

Glazed Tropical Fruit Tart

When it comes to pie/tart making, you have two basic types of crust to choose from: pastry or crumb. The decision will ultimately come down to what you’re planning to fill your crust with.

Classic pastry crust consists of a combination of flour, shortening and liquid whereas a crumb crust is comprised of pre-existing food items such as cookies, crackers or nuts, made into crumbs, tossed/coated with melted butter and pressed into a baking dish to form a shell. Both crusts offer unique strengths, which make them especially suited for certain types of pie fillings and utterly incompatible with others.

Pastry pie crust is your best choice for pies or tarts, sweet or savory, that require a relatively long baking time. Pastry of this nature is a labor of love but none the less it gives you the opportunity to create a ‘work of art’.

The major appeal of a crumb crust is, ‘its easy’. There’s no real pastry technique required to make a crumb crust. Its simply a matter of selecting what you want to make your crust from, pulverizing it and combining the crumbs with enough melted butter to make it stick together when you press it into your baking pan.

For this glazed tropical fruit tart, I chose to use some gingersnap cookies for my crust. The colorful fruit makes such a nice presentation as well as a refreshing taste.

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Glazed Tropical Fruit Tart
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter & stir in sugar. Add crushed gingersnap crumbs; mix well. Spread evenly into a tart pan. Press onto bottom & up the sides to form an even crust. Bake 4-5 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before filling.
Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine juice & cornstarch; cook & stir until thick & bubbly. Cook & stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to three bowls. Cover each with plastic wrap & cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Fold each type of fruit (mango, papaya & kiwi) into one of the bowls of fruit juice mixture. Spoon the fruit into the tart shell, arranging it as desired; press the fruit down lightly with a rubber spatula.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap & chill for 3-4 hours. Serve with whipped topping if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • I found it necessary to drain off any excess fruit juice that came from the cut fruit before putting it in the juice/cornstarch mixture.

Mango Brulee

This simple but elegant dessert lets us enjoy a taste of the tropics right here at home this summer. It’s probably not hard to guess that Brion & I enjoy the flavor of mango by the number of recipes I’ve featured on the site.

The word brulee simply means burnt in French and we’ve come to know it through the dessert called ‘crème brulee’. If its not familiar, it is simply a soft custard that’s sprinkled with sugar and then caramelized with a butane torch. The surface bubbles and then hardens to a paper thin, crisp crackly sweet crust that shatters when you dig in.

I think mangoes are so good, they don’t need anything done or added to them but a few extra touches can make it into a simple but elegant dessert.

For this mango brulee, I have sprinkled brown sugar and spices over the cut sides and placed them under the broiler (or use a brulee torch) until the sugar has browned and bubbled. The sugar forms a thin crust, just like the classic French crème brulee.

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Mango Brulee
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Keyword mango brulee
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Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American, French
Keyword mango brulee
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Turn on the broiler; position the rack 6-inches below the heat source. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut through the mango on either side of the pit as evenly as possible.
  3. In a small bowl, combine sugar & spices & sprinkle on top of each mango slice. Place mango slices on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure the mango slices are level so the sugar does not spill out. If you need to, use crumpled foil paper to steady the mango.
  4. Broil for 3 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized.