Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Transcended Perfection Wedding Tarte
by SuSu

After the Battle of Geonosis, which marked the start of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker was ordered to escort Senator Amidala back to Naboo, and to guard her life with his own. They had already declared their love for one another ... and what now? Anakin wanted the woman he knew as Padmé Naberrie to marry him, but she hesitated. She wanted to, but worried about the logistics ... they couldn't reveal their union, and how would they handle being away from one another so much? Above all, why invite trouble? Wouldn't they be better off dating, but unmarried?

The young Jedi told her about a dessert he'd had on special occasions on Coruscant, a soft custard which was essentially a refined pudding. It was delicate and sweet, really a perfect mouthful, "Like eating a cloud," as he described it. There was also another dessert made of butter, raw eggs and finely ground nuts. It was baked in shallow, curved-bottomed ramekins, topped with sliced fruit, and served as a sweetmeat -- it was the height of elegant dessert fare. "One day, for some mysterious reason, a chef combined these two perfect things to create something more transcendentally perfect -- can you imagine it, my love? Two perfect somethings combined to make something that is equally perfect, but on a totally different level ... And never mind that most of the time, people are content to keep these things separate and to serve them in their own unsullied perfection. When the union happens, the angels sing!"

He went on to describe how two fruits laid over this combined cream -- called the frangipane -- could be arranged in a spoke-like fashion, like a bursting star. "The suns of Tatooine, my homeworld, atop the soft, sweet beautiful frangipane -- doesn't that sound like Naboo?" But every ray could different -- some of poached pears, some of poached mandarins, he said ... just one would be delicious, but two provided contrast and heightened the experience. The finished dish would be greater than the sum of it's perfect parts!

Padmé listened and understood that no one would ever love her more than this young Jedi did now. She appreciated his use of metaphors to describe her and him, and them together. By the time they landed on Naboo, she had given her answer and they were married immediately after they returned to Varikino on Lake Como, where they first openly -- though with great trepidation -- declared their love to one another.

After the ceremony, Anakin presented his new wife with two little tartes in lieu of wedding bands (too public an acknowledgement of what they meant to one another), the exact tartes he'd described. Seeing the beautiful, perfect things, Padmé pledged again to be with him, even beyond death ...

    Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • cup sugar
  • vanilla bean OR 1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavor extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • another cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
Heat the milk and sugar together with a split and scraped vanilla bean; if using a flavoring extract, you'll add it later instead. In a bowl, sift the cornstarch and sugar together. Add the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is a smooth, pale, thick liquid. When the milk is near-boiling, add a cup of hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the while. This is called tempering and allows the temperature of the egg yolks to be closer to the temperature of the milk, so that the yolks don't curdle. It's important to keep the mixture whisked and moving through the tempering process, or the eggs getting the most heat will scramble. Add the hot milk in cup increments, whisking each addition in thoroughly and quickly. If you are using a flavoring extract it, add it now.

Return the mixture into the pot you'd boiled the milk and cook over low heat, whisking continuously. When the mixture comes to a slow boil it should thicken. Whisk harder and cook for another minute, reducing the heat if you need to, to prevent burning or curdling. Strain the hot pastry cream through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla bean chunks as well as any chunks of scrambled egg (there should not be much). Use a spatula to help push the thickened mixture through.

Chill this mixture with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface, like for pudding. Allowing air between the wrap and the surface of the pastry cream will cause a skin to form, or condensation will drip down onto the surface. Cool on the counter to room temperature, then refrigerate till needed.

    Almond Cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick, 4 oz, 125 g), softened to room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • cup almond flour (almonds ground very fine)
  • 2 eggs
Cream the butter and sugar together till the color is light and the texture is quite fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, work in the almond flour till the mixture is well blended, but do not overwork the mixture from this point. Add the eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon, beating just till completely combined. Yields about 1 cups of almond cream. Wrap very well, placing the wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate till needed.

    Tarte Shell
  • 1 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, very cold, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Mix together the flour and sugar in a bowl, and cut or rub the butter through it till the mixture is granular and coarse. Stir in the ice water till it forms a ball, then turn it out onto a counter and knead it briefly and gently. Try not to use too much extra flour, and keep the dough cool. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Roll the cold dough out into a circle larger than your shallow-lipped tarte pan, then place the dough in it, carefully tamping the edges down against the pieplate. You can use any shapes, but if they are large, make sure you have enough frangipane for all the tartes. If you don't, you can wrap and freeze the unbaked shells.

    Frangipane
  • Pastry Cream, very cold
  • Almond Cream, very cold
You can mix the pastry cream and almond cream together in proportions of equal parts of both, or up to 4 parts almond cream to 1 part pastry cream. Use a wooden spoon and a chilled bowl to do this -- do not use a mixer or the frangipane might "split" and not keep together. Keep covered and refrigerated till needed, and use within a few days. It must be kept chilled well, since there is butter and raw eggs in the almond cream.

    Assembly
  • Frangipane
  • 2 tarte shells, uncooked, chilled
  • 15 oz/ 425 g canned pears halves in light syrup OR 11 oz/ 300 g canned mandarin oranges in light syrup (or a combination of both) -- drained very well (keep the juice for another use, covered and chilled)
Heat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Pour the frangipane into the cold tarte shells, between ¼ to ½ of the way up from the bottom. Spread out with a spatula. Do not add more cream, or the tarte will not cook properly; the frangipane will expand on baking, in any case. Slice the pears crosswise and fan them onto the surface of the frangipane -- do not press down, as the fruit will sink a bit anyway. You can use unsliced mandarin oranges here too, or a mixture of other poached or canned fruits. Bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven. After that, check every 10 minutes until the frangipane is puffy and a golden brown, and the crust the cooked through. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Chill till serving time. Makes 16 neat slices.


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