Mirlitons de Rouen

Little almond cakes, the word mirliton described by Jane Grigson as suggesting “a cheerful twirling of skirts and light feet”. The filling is very similar to the classic filling for a Bakewell tart (as opposed to pudding). I used a recipe from Audrey Le Goff’s Rustic French Cooking Made Easy, which is a nice collection of traditional regional dishes, changing it somewhat to suit me. The original uses ready-made puff pastry, but the reason I made these is because I had some leftover sweet shortcrust. Either will work, although I’m not keen on puff pastry as a tart base personally. If you want to make pastry for them, I can recommend the recipe here. I chose to use some wild cherry jam as that goes well with almonds, but any good jam will work — raspberry, strawberry, apricot …

For about 12 tarts:
370 g puff pastry or sweet shortcrust
jam of your choice (cherry, raspberry, apricot)
100 g ground almonds
2 large eggs
80 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange flower water (if you don’t have this I can recommend Cointreau instead, but don’t overdo it)
80 ml whipping cream
a few flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C. Roll out the pastry and cut out 12 circles, using them to line a tartlet pan (I used a muffin tin but didn’t bring the pastry right up to the top of the holes, as I didn’t want the tarts to be too large). Put a heaped teaspoon of jam in each one.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling except for the flaked almonds. Pour into the tart shells, not coming right up to the top. If you’ve made smaller tarts as I did you may well have filling for more than 12. Sprinkle each tart with flaked almonds.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the filling is puffed up and golden, and the pastry is well coloured. Cool on a wire rack.

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