The beauty of jam making is that there is a jam to be made in every season, although you might not believe it. Even right now, when you all can see is snow and frost the time is right for marmalade.
I’m sure all of you out there have already filled jars full of the stuff but just in case you haven’t, there is still a bit of time. The traditional approach is to take Seville oranges (famous for their pleasantly bitter taste), peel them, shred the peel, juice them then cook the resulting juice with lemon juice before boiling it up with sugar. Of course, you can always liven things up a bit and take the non-traditional approach, but that simply involves choosing another type of citrus fruit. Or if you are feeling really risky, a combination. If that’s you and you like your marmalade with an edge, I can recommend pink grapefruit and clementine, but there’s no getting away from the fact that you’ll still have to slice off all the peel and shred it.
Perhaps now is the time for me to confess that although I feel compelled to make marmalade, (like so many things I feel compelled to make) no one in my family really eats it. Well, at least not in the quantities that I make it (like so many things that I feel compelled to make). And as we rarely eat toast for breakfast, that means that I have to invent new ways to use up our stocks. This recipe is one such way and it is a good one. Not too sweet, but sweet and (more importantly) chocolatey enough to provide that little afternoon pick me up, or to be served as a dessert livened up with a little creme fraiche, they are a perfect sized treat. Even though I used my muffin tin to make mine, so they were slightly deeper than the jam tart size I was aiming for initially. Anyway, give the recipe ago; it really couldn’t be easier to make and they’ll keep for at least 3 days in an airtight container ready to impress anyone that should pop round. That is always, of course, if they don’t all get sucked into the great lunch box abyss, and somehow manage to survive the after school stampede (the tarts I mean, not the people that happen to pop round).
Marmalade and Chocolate Fragipane Tarts.
180g plain flour
Around 12 scant tsps marmalade (don’t beat yourself up if you are not using homemade)
150g 70% dark chocolate
80- 90 g golden caster sugar (depending on your tolerance for dark chocolate – I like mine not too sweet)
120g ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla extract
Start off by making your pastry.
Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C, then rub together the butter and the flour, or stick it in the food processor. Your choice; considering the extra washing up the processor option means I’m never actually sure which method saves time.
Add a little cold water into the mixture until it comes together in a cohesive ball, then wrap in cling film and stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
Then make your frangipane. Melt the chocolate and butter and leave to cool slightly. Beat together the eggs, almonds, vanilla extract and sugar then stir in the chocolate.
Roll out the pastry, and cut into rounds big enough to fit your tart tin. Bake the shells for around five minutes, then remove from the oven and add a scant teaspoon of marmalade to each one.
Spoon a dessert spoon of frangipane mixture in top, and add a pastry top if you choose. As you can see from the photo, we topped them with a pasty star, but it’s your call.
Bake for around 20 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve however you see fit.