Trick or Treat with a Halloween Tart
Halloween is one of my favourite celebrations, second only to Christmas. As a child, growing up in Romania, Hallow's Eve was rarely celebrated. Consequently, I was the odd one always asking all my friend to dress up and spook the evil spirits away. Perhaps the hidden, darker half of me likes the appeal of this spooky holiday. After all, who wouldn't like to hold the power to scare the ghosts away?
This Halloween Tart is my way of keeping all evil spirits away, whilst enjoying a delicious treat. I like a good trick, but more than anything I love a good treat. So let's make a treat that will trick anyone into thinking it's real... Really scary that is!
Magical flavours for a decadent Halloween Tart
If you've read through some of my other recipes, you probably know by now that I adore unique flavours. Halloween is a special celebration, and it definitely calls for a unique treat.
The tart features a black sesame crust, a pistachio frangipane and a blackberry ganache top layer.
The key to a magically dark tart
Black sesame crust (sablée) - This rich crust is crispy, yet light and features extra crunch from the black sesame.
Pistachio, honey & lemon frangipane - The frangipane is a cake-like layer made with pistachio paste and almond flour. The light, nutty texture of the frangipane works perfectly with the silky ganache. Pistachio brings in a new level of flavour, whilst the honey and lemon work to balance the sweetness.
Blackberry ganache - Blackberries are a unique berry, with a sweet and tart flavour. The tartness perfectly complements the sweetness of the white chocolate. Ganache adds a wonderful creamy texture, whilst adding a shiny finish.
Tricks for the perfect tart
The key to this Halloween tart is precision and patience. Put together, the recipe might seem complicated and more fit for the advanced baker. Nevertheless, with a sprinkle of patience, a dash of precision and a wild imagination, this tart is completely doable.
Taken individually, each element is relatively easy to make. However, when put together they make for an advanced bake. Let's dive together into this adventure and prove that any bake can be tackled with the right attitude.
Crispy, yet light crust
The tart base is an adapted version of the classic French pastry knows as sablée. The word comes from the French "sable", which means sand. Sablée pastry is typically very fine and delicate, just like small grains of sand.
This type of crust is typically used for tarts, as it's very crispy and biscuit-like. Being able to hold liquids and fruits, this type of pastry is perfect for tarts of all shapes and sizes!
Making sablée is quite straightforward if you remember the following:
- Combine your dry ingredients really well.
- Don't overwork the dough by mixing too much. The dough should just about hold together.
- Chill, chill, chill! The dough needs to be properly chilled before rolling it.
- Get the pastry nice and thin to have a crispy tart shell. Use some wooden dowels as a guide if needed.
- Use baking beans or a perforated silicone mat. If you're using a traditional tart tin, you will need to place baking paper and baking marbles before baking. This will prevent it from losing shape or having a pocket of air underneath. Alternatively, you can use a perforated tart ring and perforated silicone mat for an ultra-professional finish.
Extra fragrant frangipane
Frangipane is a velvety almond cream that turns into a wonderful light cake when baked. Using it as a base for fruity tarts is a match made in Heaven, as it prevents the shell from getting soaked.
The basic ingredients for frangipane are really simple:
- Almond flour (meal)
- Optional: a little plain flour
As we want our tart to be extremely fragrant and rich, the frangipane in this recipe also has lemon, pistachio and honey.
- Use store-bought almond flour instead of making your own. Almonds can get oily very easily when ground at home.
- Use a combination of lemon zest, juice and extract for an intense flavour.
- Raw pistachios are recommended instead of roasted for an authentic flavour.
- Add the frangipane to the tart shell using a piping bag to ensure you have an even layer.
- Bake the frangipane at the same time as the tart shell to prevent double-baking the tart crust.
Silky smooth ganache
I chose to add ganache to this recipe instead of curd or cremeux because the tart needed to have a shiny finish. Blackberries are perfectly suited with white chocolate, so it made the choice a no-brainer.
To make the perfect ganache, remember to:
- Use home-made puree for an intense blackberry flavour. To do this, simply cook the fruit for a few minutes, then blend and sieve to remove the seeds.
- High quality white chocolate with at least 28% cocoa solids is your best bet. I like to use Callebaut.
- Use an immersion blender to combine the ingredients to avoid adding unnecessary air bubbles to the ganache.
- Do not add more puree than the recipe calls for, as the ganache might not set as firmly.
- And lastly, let the tart chill for at least 2-3 hours before cutting into it.
Decorating the Halloween Tart with a Spiderweb
Now that the tart is ready, we need to get our spook on. To do this, simply arm yourself with some white chocolate (or candy melts) and a piping bag.
I tried to take inspiration from real spiderweb patterns, but please do feel free to use your own artistic licence.
See below is how I piped my spiderweb on:
Zoom baking session
When I suggested to my friend, Jennifer, that we should bake this tart, I'm sure she thought I was crazy. Although she thought it's a very tricky dessert to make, she was happy to take on the challenge. And boy am I happy she did!
This was the first time she made crème pâtissière, frangipane, craquelin and choux pastry. I was only there to cheer her on and provide the odd technical support. Have a look at her blog post to see how much fun the experience was. She made a gorgeous tart and choux and learnt so much!
The morale of the story is - even if you think you lack the skills, don't be scared. Take on challenging recipes, fail, get them right and keep going. It will be so worth it!
Have a very Happy Halloween!
If you want to go the extra mile, you can add a spider made out of choux puffs with modelling chocolate legs. Alternatively, you can use plastic spiders, which would be just as spooky! But please don't eat those.
Lastly, I hope you have an amazing Hallow's Eve, filled with joyful scares, happy ghosts and lots of magic!
Halloween Spider Tart (Blackberry Pistachio Tart)
Black sesame crust
- 140 g butter, room temperature (⅔ cup)
- 70 g sugar (⅓ cup)
- 30 g black sesame seeds (¼ cup)
- 1 egg
- 280 g all purpose flour (2 ¼ cups)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon zest
Pistachio, honey & lemon frangipane
- 60 g butter, softened (¼ cup)
- 65 g honey, runny (3 tbsp)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 50 g icing sugar (⅓ cup)
- 30 g pistachio paste (¼ cup)
- 2 eggs
- 1 lemon zest
- 10 g lemon juice (2 tsp)
- 70 g almond flour (¾ cup)
- 10 g whole wheat flour (1 tbsp)
- 60 g raw pistachios, shelled (½ cup)
- 150 g white chocolate* (1 cup)
- 85 g blackberry puree (⅓ cup)
- 25 g heavy (double) cream (1 ⅔ tbsp)
- 15 g lemon juice (1 tbsp)
- 50 g white chocolate or candy melts (⅓ cup)
Black sesame crust
- Blitz the sesame seeds in a food processor to turn into smaller pieces (but not powder).
- Combine the butter, icing sugar, salt and lemon zest until creamy (using a stand mixer or food processor).
- Add in the black sesame seeds and the egg and mix until combined. Add the flour and mix until it just about comes together.
- Press into a flat square, cover in cling film and chill for 1 hour.
- Roll out dough to 2-3mm (⅛ inch) thickness. Using a 25cm (10 inch) tart ring, cut out a large circle for the base. Cut out long strips of dough and line edge of the tart ring. Press gently with your fingers at the seam to attach the edges of dough.
- Chill tart for 30 minutes, then cut out the excess with a sharp knife.
Pistachio, honey & lemon frangipane
- To make the pistachio paste, soak raw shelled pistachios for 1 hour in water. Remove skin, then place the pistachio kernels in a blender and mix until they form a paste. The paste can be prepared in advance.
- Mix the butter, sugar, salt and pistachio paste. Beat until pale and fluffy.
- Add the honey, lemon juice and zest and mix well. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the flour and almond flour until creamy.
- Place in a piping bag and pipe mixture into the chilled (unbaked) tart crust. The frangipane will come up to less than half of the height of the tart crust. Any leftover mixture can be baked separately.
- Evenly sprinkle the pistachios over the frangipane and gently press them down with your thumb.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the frangipane is golden-brown in colour.
- Let the frangipane cool for 1 hour before adding the ganache.
- To make the puree, place fresh (or frozen) blackberries in a saucepan and heat over low-medium fire.
- Crush using a spoon until you obtain a smooth paste. Sieve to remove seeds.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave in short bursts of 10-15 seconds, mixing after each burst to prevent it from burning.
- Once melted, add the heavy cream and lemon juice. The mixture will thicken, but don't worry. Pour the hot puree over the chocolate mixture.
- Combine all ingredients using spatula until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Mix with immersion mixer to get it silky smooth, but without adding air bubbles.
- Pour over the cooled frangipane, ensuring the surface is smooth.
- Chill in the fridge for 2 hours before decorating.
Decorating the tart
- To decorate, melt some white chocolate or white candy melts in the microwave in short bursts of 10-15 seconds.
- Place chocolate in piping bag fitted with a thin round nozzle.
- Pipe long transversal lines from one side to the other, intersecting the lines in the middle of the tart.
- Start piping a spiral starting from the middle of the tart. Continue with individual lines connecting each transversal line to the neighbouring one - please see diagram in article body for more details.
- Add small droplets of chocolate to mimic water droplets if needed.
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.