Introduction: The Rhapsody Tart
A chewy coconut and brown sugar filling compliments a toasty warm roasted walnut crust. Rich, comforting flavors that are uniquely contrasted by the tart and refreshing layer of raspberry compote. Garnished with chantilly cream, mint leaves and strawberries, this dessert pairs well with a robust, black cup of coffee.
About the Rhapsody Tart
The Rhapsody Tart is an old and esoteric recipe. As far as I know, this dessert is one of a kind and I don't believe this dessert exists anywhere else. There may have been a time when the Rhapsody Tart was known but I haven't seen or heard of it anywhere, on the internet or other places.
The reason why I have this recipe is from a chance encounter which makes for a somewhat interesting story.
The story behind the Rhapsody Tart
Dark red brick walls, a white balcony and three stories high, a "restaurant" was a modest name to call it. That restaurant behemoth however, was older than my great grandparents; with walls that held so many stories that Poe would be jealous. A naive teenager at the time, I eagerly earned my first job there as the low life dishwasher.
Two years flew by; and I couldn't stop peeking behind the shadows of those great chefs. Every Tuesday afternoon, the Sous Chef would be making the final additions to the demi-glace, the Garde Manger prepared his fresh charcuterie and chicken pate, and the Pastry Chef would be hand dipping his ganache truffles. As an impressionable adolescent that had an infinite appetite, this restaurant could make heaven seem bitter.
I was finally allowed to help prep the pastries, and when the Pastry Chef quit: I gradually took his place.
After I finally established myself as competent; a server approached me during the tea time.
"There's a group of elderly women here, they're asking me about the Rhapsody Tart dessert we have."
I never heard of such a dessert. "I don't even know what that is, when did they have it?"
"They were mentioning that the last time they came here was 30 years ago."
"Sorry," I replied. "They're mistaken."
And 1 minute later, the name: Rhapsody Tart left my mind and I didn't think about that dessert for 3 months.
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"Could you go check the attic?" The head chef asked me. It was a slow Thursday morning, and the chefs were preparing food for the weekend rush. "We need more plates and there's extra in the attic."
I quickly went up two floors to the attic above and grabbed a crate of plates, and began my trek to the kitchen.
Now, let me take this moment to describe the inside of this restaurant. The restaurant decor is very old fashioned Victorian with an insane amount of objects hanging on the walls: picture frames, book shelves, ornate stained wood working, and mounted taxidermy.
I was walking down the stairs when I stopped suddenly. Setting the plates on the floor I took a few steps back. On the wall there, hung a rustic wooden frame containing a light brown piece of paper. Approaching it, I saw that it was an old magazine article, however there was a title in this page that caught my eye.
I picked the frame up from the wall. Ah, there's that title: "The Rhapsody Tart"; the title of this article was "The Rhapsody Tart". I started reading:
"8 eggs; 5 cups of brown sugar...." It's a recipe! But there was more to the article: a woman sent a letter to the magazine, explaining that the restaurant I worked at made a fantastic dessert called: "The Rhapsody Tart", but the stubborn pastry chef at the time would not reveal the recipe to the dessert for the woman. The woman went on hoping that the magazine could make a request to the pastry chef, and essentially glorify him for his dessert to publish the recipe. Apparently this was tempting enough and the recipe was shared, and here it is: the Rhapsody Tart!
When was this written? I checked the bottom of the page: "April 1972".
I took that frame and the crate of plates and rushed down to the kitchen. My eyes darted across the page.
"1st stage: 3 tbs sugar and 11 tbs butter...."
I got to work right away: I grabbed a large bag of raw walnuts, roasted them and processed them in the Cuisinart. The walnut crust was made, baked into a shallow quiche pan.
Now for the filling: eggs, brown sugar, coconut, walnuts, flour and salt. While that was baking I made the compote from raspberries we got from the market yesterday. The compote was spread onto the baked pastry and allowed to cool.
Temptation was mercilessly murdering my self control: okay, okay, fine! One bite.
At that moment, my dessert tray was impacted for the rest of my pastry chef career. I never had a staple dessert on my tray, but every week: the Rhapsody Tart was served. I loved that dessert, and it is still my favorite dessert to this day.
Why is this dessert being shared
I haven't worked at that restaurant for a few years, but I recorded the Rhapsody Tart recipe for myself and made it again and again just for family and friends. That recipe has still remained something of a secret, but I decided to finally share it with the Instructable's community. Until now, I was keeping the recipe to myself out of respect for the restaurant I worked at as they continued to make it. Later I realized that the restaurant had acquired the services of a local pastry shop and are no longer serving the Rhapsody Tart.
This dessert is far too good to be wiped off the face of the Earth so I feel it needs to be shared.
Step 1: Ingredients and Necessary Utensils
See the ingredient list below. You may choose to scale the ingredients by weight, volume or percentage; the three units are listed for your convenience.
Link to the above recipe here for printing. Right click on the image to print.
What are Stages?
The ingredients above are conveniently listed in stages, and stages are basically ordered steps. For instance, with the Roasted Walnut Crust, the first stage is the granulated sugar and the butter; which means that the first step involves mixing the granulated sugar and the butter together. You can think of the stages as the order in which the ingredients are added. Ingredients of the same stage are added together.
The recipe here will go stage by stage. Every stage will have a dedicated step to it in this Instructable.
You will likely require the following tools when creating the Rhapsody Tart:
- Pastry Brush
- Measuring cups
- Scale (optional)
- Food Processor
- Stand or Hand Mixer
- Oven (convention or convection)
- Cooking Bowls
- Rubber Spatula
- Rolling Pin
- Wooden cooking spoon
- Small pot
- Quiche or pie pan
Step 2: Preparations
Before baking, we must set up our mise en place, a common kitchen term which means: "putting in place" to refer to arranging the ingredients that are used in the preparation.
For the walnuts, you could use the "recipe ready" walnuts, but raw walnuts that have been roasted yourself have such a satisfying flavor to them. For this recipe, I recommend purchasing the raw walnuts.
Take all your raw walnuts that you'll be using and lay them out flat on a sheet tray. Preset your oven to 375F and start roasting the walnuts when the oven is heated. The walnuts will be ready when they begin to brown and you can smell their toastiness. This takes roughly 5 to 8 minutes.
Take 3.75 ounces (1.5 cups) of the walnuts and grind them in a food processor. The ground walnuts go to the crust and the walnut pieces are for the filling.
Scaling out the ingredients
Either measure or scale the ingredients out separately or you can combine some of them into their appropriate stages.
Step 3: The Walnut Crust: Stage 1
Now we will begin creating the Roasted Walnut Crust.
The first stage of the walnut crust is the butter and the sugar.
Put the butter and the sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle and mix on a medium speed until well combined.
Scrape the bowl and paddle of the butter/sugar mixture with a rubber spatula.
Step 4: The Walnut Crust: Stage 2
The second stage is the single egg. Add the egg to the butter/sugar combination and mix the ingredients with the paddle at medium speed until everything is well combined.
Scrape the bowl with the rubber spatula again to make sure that the butter/sugar combines with the egg completely.
Step 5: The Walnut Crust: Stage 3
Take the ground walnuts and the flour and combine them in a separate mixing bowl very thoroughly. With the mixer is running on a low speed, slowly add the dry mix to the butter/sugar/egg.
After all the dry ingredients have been combined, continue to mix the dough at a medium speed for a few minutes.
Once all the dry ingredients have been added, your dough should begin to take shape.
Step 6: The Walnut Crust: Prepping and Baking
Preheat your oven to 375F.
Prepare the quiche pan. Take a couple tablespoons of butter and melt it in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush or paper towel to apply the butter to the inside of the quiche pan and then liberally dust the pan with flour. Lightly tap the pan with the counter top to knock off the excess flour.
The dough at this point should resemble something like a short dough. It won't be that stretchy and it'll break apart if you try.
Take the dough out from the mixing bowl and roll it very thin. The dough should be no thicker than 1/8".
The next task is to get the dough into the quiche pan. However, the dough may not be willing to be lifted all together, so you may have to take pieces and piece the crust together. In many cases, I've used a spatula to lift the dough, and lay it into the pan.
Use your fingers to push the dough against the pan, forming a complete crust.
I've found in the past that the dough on the sides may have a tendency to cave, so I give the crust a little more integrity by applying small amounts of dough on the edges to hold it up. This forms something like a thin ring around the pan that slightly goes over.
Bake the crust for approximately 10 minutes at 375F. You may err on the side of less time.
Now that the crust is finished, allow it to cool for half an hour. You could spend this time making the filling. Don't attempt to remove the dough from the pan. We still have to bake the filling inside of the crust and the crust requires the strength of the pan to hold it up.
When the crust has cooled, take a knife, and gently cut away the excess crust from the top, using the lip of the pan as a guide. When you are finished, you should have a nice clean edge all along the crust.
Step 7: The Brown Sugar Filling: Stage 1
Now we will make the brown sugar filling that will be poured into the crust you have baked.
Combine the eggs and the dark brown sugar in a stand mixer. Mix the two ingredients with a paddle on a medium high speed. Continue to mix for a few minutes until the mixture has become light in color and density.
Step 8: The Brown Sugar Filling: Stage 2
Combine the walnuts, coconut, flour and salt in a separate mixing bowl. While the stand mixer is running on a low speed, slowly add the dry mixture to the egg and brown sugar mixture.
Step 9: The Brown Sugar Filling: Baking
Preheat your oven to 325F.
Pour the filling into the crust. The walnuts may sink to the bottom of the mixing bowl so ensure that you are mixing while adding the filling to the crust so everything is homogeneous.
Bake the Rhapsody Tart for about 40-45 minutes at 325F. Immediately after baking, the tart should have a hard thin top, but if you peek underneath the top layer, it'll still look runny. But don't worry, the sugar is still very hot so when it cools, everything should solidify. An undercooked Rhapsody Tart is significantly better than an overcooked tart.
Cool the Tart completely in the fridge.
Step 10: The Raspberry Compote
While the Rhapsody Tart is baking, now is a good time to make the compote.
Building the base
All together you will need 32 oz of raspberries. Save 12 oz of the raspberries to the side to add at the end.
Combine the first stage: the raspberries and granulated sugar in a cooking pot. Add just enough water to aptly wet the sugar. Heat the mixture over MEDIUM HIGH, while stirring from time to time. The acidity from the raspberries will prevent the sugar from crystallizing.
When the mixture begins to boil, lower the heat to a MEDIUM and continue to cook the mixture. The berries should break down after about half an hour. Continue to cook until the fruit mixture has become thick and syrupy.
Take the compote off the heat and allow to cool in the fridge. If the compote is cooled but does not seem thick enough, you can heat it again to remove more of the water. The compote should be thin enough to easily spread, but thick enough to hold its place: like soft butter.
Seasoning the compote
The compote is very important because it takes the powerful sweetness of the tart itself and adds a whole new dimension to the dessert. The compote should be somewhat sweet, but also tart. There should also be a touch of saltiness to the compote.
You will need to add lemon juice, lemon zest and salt to your taste. Without these three ingredients, the compote will just have a one dimensional sweetness to it and will be boring. Be somewhat liberal with the lemon juice and salt when seasoning. You should add enough lemon juice to the point to cut the sweetness a bit and introduce a tartness to the compote. Then add the salt to the compote just to the point where the salt is noticeable on the palate.
When the compote is thick and cooled, stir the remaining raspberries into the compote.
Step 11: Final Touches
Remove the Tart from the Quiche Pan. In theory it should be a matter of flipping upside-down. Sometimes removal can be accomplished by heating the pan with a butane torch, but the Tart should fall out easily. Occasionally, the tart can be stubborn: take your time. Take a small paring knife and gently pry the dessert from the pan in trouble areas.
Place the Rhapsody Tart right-side up onto a cardboard cake circle and bring about a pint of water to a boil.
Pour the boiling water into a tall plastic cup that could hold a chef knife.
Place the knife into the hot water in the cup. Hopefully, a majority of the knife is in the water. Allow the knife to get hot and shake excess water off.
Slice the Rhapsody Tart into small wedges, usually I cut it into twelves. The slices should be small, remember that this tart is very sweet and flavorful and can easily overwhelm the palate with too big of a serving. Wipe the knife clean in the boiling water with every cut. Be gentle on the tart and ensure that you are not damaging the crust on the edges.
Then take the raspberry compote and apply a nice layer to the entire tart. You will probably have some compote left over.
Step 12: Garnishes: Strawberry, Chantilly Cream and Mint
The garnishes are optional but they really go great with the Rhapsody Tart.
The Strawberry Garnish
I learned this garnish trick from the Sous chef at the restaurant I worked at. The end result of the garnish you can see above.
See the image below on the cuts that need to be made to do this. The numbers signify the order in which you cut the strawberry. You can really add as many layers as you want, but this is an example:
First by cutting off the stem so the strawberry has a flat base to sit on. Rest the strawberry on that flat face.
Cut down on an angle on both sides near the base, cutting out two wedges from the berry.
Then work your way up, holding the strawberry gently; cutting into it and forming "v"s.
Take the small wedges from the base and spread them apart, still supporting the berry. Then offset the layers to a desirable amount.
Chantilly Cream (Shan-till-ee) is really a fancy word for whipped cream with vanilla. To make the Chantilly cream, take a pint of cold heavy whipping cream and mix it with about a quarter cup of sugar (the amount of sugar you use is variable, and just to your taste) with the whisk attachment on high. In some minutes, the heavy cream should begin to form peaks. Whip the cream to desired peak level. Be careful not to whip too much or you'll make butter.
When you are done whipping, fold some vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla bean into the cream.
Place a wedge of Rhapsody Tart onto a ceramic white plate. Dollop some Chantilly Cream to the side and pair it with the strawberry garnish. Place a mint leaf into the Chantilly Cream.
Best served with a black cup of coffee.
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