Thursday, December 24, 2009

Belgian Mattentaarten.

One of my favourite childhood treats was the mattentaart. It’s an unusual little almond-flavoured cheese-curd tart cooked in puff-pastry. I found a recipe for it the other day and became resolved to make one for this weekend.

So last night, after I got home, I performed the first step that creates the curd used in the recipe. It’s pretty simple. You take a quart of milk, pour it into a deep pot, and bring it to a boil. Then you put a pint of buttermilk into the boiling milk, and let the milk curdle. You remove it from the heat, and strain it through some double-folded cheesecloth. Do not squeeze the curds to wick out the liquids, let it drain on its own. Stir the curds to keep them loose and to help drain now and again, and store in the fridge for about 12 hours.

So this morning, I got my curd-ball (I had squeezed it, which made the texture wrong… lesson learned!) I had to break the curd-ball apart. L I set out the required ingredients and got started.

The first thing I needed to do was separate the three eggs. There are three yolks in that bowl, I just broke one. Argh. I then took the whites and popped them into my KitchenAid bowl. I whipped them up into stiff peaks.

Once I did that, I set them aside long enough to mix together the other ingredients; the yolks, 3 ½ oz of sugar, a teaspoon of almond essence and the curds. Mix well. It’s not a pretty mix. Once blended, you then gently fold in the egg whites.

The next step is to cheat and use commercially made puff-pastry. I’m all for made-from-scratch, but rolling and folding pastry just doesn’t seem appealing to me. So I got a box of Pepperidge Farm Puff-Pastry, which contains two sheets, and cut one to line the bottom of a cake pan. A quick note: I usually ate these as small tartlets. The are usually sold that way at bakeries in Belgium… but I don’t have small tart pans anymore (ahem coff coff, Steph II) and so I did it in one large cake-pan).

I then poured in the folded mixture, and cut the second sheet of puff pastry as a round to cap off the top, and I scored it once I lay it on top (maybe scored it too much! Heh heh).

Into the oven which was preheated at 400º F for 10 minutes. Then I lowered it to 350º for fifteen minutes, and then boosted it back up to 400º for the last five minutes. I actually let it back another few minutes too, just to let the puff pastry brown a smidge more.

And voila. The finished product. Let it cool and then feel free to scarf. Because I squeezed the curds into a tight little ball and left them like that overnight, the texture of the tart is not at all what I recall. L The flavours are similar—but texture is just as important. But I learned my lesson… an excellent failure. Next time I’ll do better. Give ‘em a try if you’re brave. Don’t let the making of curds deter you, it’s EASY. How hard is boiling something, adding something else, and then straining it? Not hard at all.


AlohaAroha said...

This sounds really yummy! I may have to try it - I bet Mr Dreamy won't love it though!

Lauren said...


storybeader said...

wow - very industrious! It's beautiful! Tell us how it tastes!

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