Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Congress Tarts

 What is it about the combination of desiccated coconut and raspberry jam? I think it's a bit of national nostalgia for times past which sends so many people into a drooling tizzy when it's mentioned! Just as Proust had his madeleine moments, the British have the raspberry and coconut combination to take them back to a childhood of school dinner jam tarts sprinkled with coconut and sponge castles baked in dariole moulds (also called madeleines in some regions).

Whatever the reason the combination is loved, this recipe for Congress Tarts leapt out of the book at me (in my case, I found the recipe in a book called 'The Book of Old Tarts', by Elizabeth Hodder), as I was searching for a recipe for this month's Tea Time Treats challenge. The brief this month, set by Jane at The Hedge Combers blog is to make something for the tea table in which eggs play a role. To me, that meant that eggs ought to play a dominant role, as in meringues, custards, quiches, mousses and similar products. My problem was finding something which would fit into my normal baking programme, which is restricted at the moment due to a need to lose weight, and remaining Christmas treats still in the store cupboard. I needed something small, as well as tasty, and this recipe fitted the bill, as it looked possible to scale it down a bit without any problems

A Congress Tart is a cross between a British Macaroon and a Bakewell tart - raspberry jam is spread into the bottom of a pastry case and a macaroon mixture of egg whites, sugar, ground almonds and coconut is placed on top before baking. I had to replace about a third of the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts, as I didn't check my storecupboard properly before starting the recipe, but I don't think this was detrimental to the overall flavour - it was the coconut flavour which was dominant, despite adding a little almond extract and lemon zest to the macaroon mixture. The recipe in my book (as opposed to the online recipe, made in a jam tart mould) made eight 8cm tarts and was easily reduced by 1/3, so that in the end I only made six slightly smaller tarts.

As you can see from the photo below, the excess pastry was made into a raspberry jam and coconut turnover, to make the most of the delicious raspberry/coconut combination. The turnover was filled with 3 heaped teaspoons of raspberry jam and a tablespoon of desiccated coconut, and was sprinkled with a little more coconut before baking.

Tea Time Treats

Tea Time Treats (click here to see the rules) is a monthly challenge to bake for a good old-fashioned tea table, following the theme set by that month's host. It is hosted alternately by Karen at Lavender and Lovage, and a new host, Jane at The Hedge Combers. Jane chose the theme of eggs, and will be posting a round up of entries at the end of the month.

If it's not obvious from my description of Congress Tarts, I feel they are a good entry for TTT because the filling uses egg whites to bind and raise the macaroon mixture.


Jude said...

My granny taught me to make these. She called them maids of honour but the recipe is virtually identical. Haven't made them since the kids left home as OH doesn't do coconut. I may have to disappoint him now.

Snowy said...

Haven't seen these for years. They look delicious Suelle, with a lovely deep filling. Coconut and raspberry jam - mmmm!

Unknown said...

oh man I made these over christmas and thought i'd invented something... now I know what they're called... gorgeous stuff.

Francesca Parise- In my sweet kitchen said...

Hello, my name is Francesca and I'm Italian. I stumbled upon your blog and I liked it because there are so many nice recipes that I would like to learn. I have joined your supporters. If you go too foul. Thank you.

Suelle said...

Jude - my Maid of Honour recipe (Be-Ro) just uses sponge topping, not any kind of macaroon mixture. This is the only recipe I found using both nuts and coconut.

I remember your tartaroons, Dom - it must have subconsciously influenced my choice of recipe!

Hello Francesca, thank you for posting a comment. Please ask if there is anything you don't understand.

Phil in the Kitchen said...

It's a very, very long time since I had a congress tart. They are very nostalgic, although not of school dinners. Our school dinners never included anything as nice. They look lovely.

Unknown said...

They look delectable! I adore coconut in baking (actually in pretty much anything!)
Thank you so much for sharing them with my first ever Tea Time Treats!
Janie x

MuchRatherBake said...

I've never heard of these before but definitely want to try them now! They sound delicious =)

Anne said...

Jam and coconut have to be my favourite combination ever in baking! I will have to go dust off my dariole molds and make some! They look delicious!!

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