Grain, Dairy and Sugar Free Plum Frangipane Tartlets and Mini Muffins

Having made gluten free plum frangipane tart, I could not miss the opportunity to transform this recipe into grain, dairy and sugar free version. There were several challenges in making sweet shortcrust dough and in baking regime adjustment, but I happen to overcome them, and here it is – my grain, dairy and sugar free tart with sweet shortcrust and plum frangipane filling.

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I experimented with different baking regimes for both the sweet crust, and plum frangipane with honey as a sweetener. That is why I present my final bake as frangipane individual tartlets, frangipane mini muffins and crust less individual frangipane tart, the last showed on the photo below.

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Sweet crust, baked using this recipe, has its pluses and minuses. On a positive side, it has relatively short list of commonly used ingredients, it is easy to make and very easy to work with and roll between 2 sheets of baking paper, off cuts can be used many times, the crust gives very strong shell, which wonderfully keeps the shape. The crust can be rolled very thin, the only problem it presents, is the need for careful baking. If over baked and burned, it becomes dry and bitter. My advice when making tart shells, not to be tempted to roll it very thin and to allow slow baking at low temperatures to be fully baked together with frangipane filling in the tart. Among the negatives I can name the absence of distinct flavour and reduced sweetness to my liking. Individual biscuits from this dough will be on a dry side and will have plain taste. More systemic negative is the necessity to be very careful with baking regime and temperatures, because dates in the recipe will burn fast. Any sugar free batter and dough, based on natural sweeteners such as honey or dates, will have this issue. It is impossible to avoid this problem, unless you use granulated, dry artificial sugar replacements. I do not have this option, so I have to deal with fast browning in all my batters and pastries.

The solution is to move to lower temperatures, to bake smaller size products and bake them low, either in baking tins with high sides, filling the tin one half or even one-third, or placing the tin in larger size pan. It is probably a good idea to bake honey and date based batters without using fan in fan forced ovens. I have to try the regime without fan more .

In this post I can’t provide step by step photos of both making the sweet crust and frangipane, but I can refer to photos of working with savoury crust and making plum frangipane with sugar instead of honey. All processes and looks of the batter at different stages are just the same.

Ingredients:

sweet crust

  • 45 g (3) pitted dates, water added to make total weight 80g
  • 20g chia seeds, ground
  • 20g coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 egg white
  • 100g almond meal

plum and honey frangipane

  • 2 large eggs
  • 130g honey
  • 150g thick plum puree (made from 300g pitted fresh plums with skin as in plum marshmallows)
  • 130g almond meal, sifted
  • 2 tea spoons of crushed sliced almond to decorate
  • plum slices to insert into the filling

Preparation:

sweet crust, for 1 medium round or rectangular tart shell, or 8 individual tartlet shells

  • cover dates with boiling water for 5-10min, depending on how dry they are
  • dry dates with paper towel and take pits out
  • add cold water to make total weight of dates and water 80g
  • blend dates in water

It can be a very difficult task, if the dates are quite dry, as some of the organic dates can be. My stick blender died trying to disintegrate the dates, and I ended up simply mashing them with my finger tips. Please be aware of this! On a positive note, I am delighted to have an excuse to buy Bamix stick blender.

  • separate an egg
  • add coconut flour to dates liquid, mix
  • add egg white and mix, let it stand for 5 min
  • mix chia with almond meal
  • add chia and almond mix to coconut flour with dates and egg white
  • knit the mixture, incorporating all dry ingredients, it will take some time, but all chia and almond meal will be incorporated, making stiff dough
  • make a dough into disk shape, wrap it in glad wrap and refrigerate (up to 5 days) or freeze
  • the dough is ready to use after 30 min in the fridge

plum and honey frangipane

  • wash and dry plums, take pits out and slice the flesh
  • place plums in a glass bowl and microwave on high until their weight is reduced in half, depending on initial weight it takes different time (for 500g of fresh plums it takes 3 times for 10-12 min with stirring in between to reduce weight in half)
  • puree cooked plums to get smooth consistency

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  • plum puree should be used completely cooled down, it is even better to use it the next day after being refrigerated overnight
  • beat eggs with honey for 7-10 min, until pale and at least double in volume
  • add plum puree and whisk it in

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  • add almond meal and mix it in, I do it gently with a whisk

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  • the batter will be thick and has to be spooned into tartlets or mini muffin cases

frangipane tartlets

  • if making individual tartlets divide crust dough in 8 equal pieces, make a small disc out of each, and roll the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper
  • roll the dough to the size of tartlet tins with extra 2cm all around, to make side crust double in thickens
  • peel baking paper from the dough
  • place piece of dough into a tin, fold extra dough inside and press it to the sides of the tin to make the sides of double thickness
  • dip your fingers into water to prevent the dough stick to your fingers
  • spoon plum and honey frangipane into crust shells
  • insert plum slices vertically into frangipane filling
  • if baking mini muffins, spoon the batter in paper cases and insert small plum slices into the batter
  • bake in preheated to 150C fan forced oven for 45-50min. watch tartlets after 30-35min, every oven is different and bakes in different manner

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All three bakes of plum and honey frangipane were fully baked without burning. Sweet  short crust had a strong texture and slided easily from the tin, even no grease  was applied to tartlet cases. With crust less bake in a greased pie tin, I had to wait several minutes to get the tartlet out, carefully separating the sides and the bottom of the bake. Grease well individual pie baking tins when baking crust less frangipane.

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Crust less bake had a softer structure, but still tartlet kept its shape well. Yellow plums did not provide decorative effect the red plums did, but I run out of red plums, when used them all to make puree.

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Red plums and icing sugar in gluten free (only) recipe make the tart better looking, but it terms of taste they nearly the same. The difference was the distinct taste of honey in sugar free frangipane.

Mini muffins was an easy option to bake, but, as with any muffins in paper cases with a soft and delicate spongy bake, it was annoying to have so much of the muffin left on the paper case. I would prefer to go an extra step in future and grease muffin holes, either regular or mini, and bake to get muffin without paper, taking away all the nice crust.

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The texture of the sweet crust is seen on a close up photo above. As much as I wanted to have pale, yellow colour of the crust, I could not get it, and I am afraid, unless any dry and granulated source of sweetness is used in the recipe, the light colour of the crust is impossible to achieve.

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I am content with the colour of honey frangipane. It was on a dark side, compared to sugar recipe. Honey gave the surface its shine and using crushed pieces of sliced almonds lightened the appearance of the tartlet.

I will be experimenting more with different types of ingredients to make another version of sweet grain, dairy and sugar free shortcrust dough.

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