Rhubarb and Custard Tarts with Crushed Hazelnuts

, from Issue #49. August, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Rhubarb and Custard Tarts with Crushed Hazelnuts

This recipe does have several components, but the custard and rhubarb can be made two days ahead to make the final assembly a simple put-together.


Sweet shortcrust pastry
1 2/3 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
110 grams butter, diced and chilled
1 egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons chilled water

Egg wash
1 egg, beaten

2 cups milk
¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
¼ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
¼ cup cornflour

4-5 slim stalks rhubarb
2 tablespoons orange juice
¼ cup caster sugar

To serve
1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
icing sugar for dusting
spray-free flowers for garnish, optional (I used blue borage)

12-hole standard muffin tin, lightly greased


Custard: Put the milk, ¼ cup caster sugar and the vanilla in a saucepan and bring to just below the boil.

Whisk the egg yolks, the second ¼ cup of caster sugar and the orange zest in a bowl until pale then whisk in the cornflour. Slowly whisk in half of the hot milk mixture.

Whisk this mixture into the hot milk remaining in the saucepan and slowly return to the boil over a low heat. Remove from the heat and continue whisking for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate when cool.

Preheat the oven to 150˚C.

Cut the rhubarb into 5 cm lengths and place in a single layer in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with the orange juice then the caster sugar. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes until just tender but still holding its shape. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.

Pastry: Put the flour, salt, icing sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs. Combine the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of the water and add, pulsing again until the dough just starts to come together. Add the extra water only if necessary.

Tip onto a large piece of plastic wrap and bring the dough together to form a flat disc. Wrap and chill until firm.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured bench to ½ cm thick. Stamp out 12 x 10 cm circles. Press into the tins and chill for 30 minutes. Bake blind for 15 minutes, remove the paper and beans and brush the insides of the tarts with egg wash.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150˚C.

Bake the tarts for a further 5-7 minutes or until the pastry is fully cooked and golden. Cool completely.

To assemble: Slice half the rhubarb into smaller pieces and place in the base of the tarts. Top with the custard then the remaining rhubarb. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and a dusting of icing sugar. I used blue borage flowers as the final garnish. Makes 12

To bake blind: line a prepared pastry case with baking paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. The beans support the pastry as it cooks. Bake in a preheated 190˚C - 200˚C oven for up to 20 minutes before removing the paper and weights. The shell should now have taken form. Return to the oven for the time specified in the recipe.