Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fresh Peach Custard Tart

This phenomenal dessert is a fabulous way to showcase the fresh peaches that can be found in your grocery store or farm stand this time of year. It is elegant enough for company, but really simple to prepare because the tart shell is a quick "press in" crust, so there's no need to find your rolling pin or make a mess on your counter. Pies are difficult for carb-conscience eaters because a purchased pie shell or traditional pie crust recipe will turn any sugar-free, low carb filling into high carb, guilt-burdened fare. This easy crust is extremely low carb because it uses almond flour in place of wheat flour, which is a difference of 89 grams of carbohydrate for 1¼ cup, plus the addition of 15 grams of fiber! The creamy "custard" filling is completely milk-free. Instead I used the natural sweetness of pureed fruit as the base of the cooked pudding, so very little added sweetener is required. The result is a light, beautiful dessert in which the fresh peach is the star attraction!

Fresh Peach Custard Tart
(Makes 8 servings)

1¼ cup almond flour (or finely ground blanched almonds)
¼ cup Splenda granular
½ teaspoon salt, divided
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon melted butter
2 fresh, ripe medium to large peaches
1½ tablespoons lemon juice, divided
About ½ cup water + 2 tablespoons cold water, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch (gluten-free, if desired)
½ cup Splenda granular
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In food processor or medium mixing bowl, measure almond flour, ¼ cup Splenda, ¼ teaspoon salt and pulse to break up any clumps in the flour (or stir with fork). While machine is on, stream in melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand (do not over process because you do not want almond butter) or combine with fork. Once the mixture is thoroughly moistened, spread evenly into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. With your fingers, press into bottom and only slightly up the sides of the tart pan making certain that it is evenly distributed and there are no thin places. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes until very lightly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool completely before proceeding, about 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. To make filling, peel one fresh peach and cut into chunks. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and process in food processor or blender until pureed. Add enough water to equal 1 cup (about ½ cup) and process again to make sure mixture is smooth.

3. Place 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water into small saucepan; stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Add peach puree, ½ cup Splenda, ¼ teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and beaten egg. With a wire whisk, stir mixture until well combined. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick and spreadable (boiling is not necessary). Remove from heat and add vanilla. Spoon onto prepared tart shell and spread evenly almost to edges.

4. Peel and thinly slice remaining peach. Toss with remaining ½ tablespoon lemon juice. Arrange peach slices decoratively on top of filling in a spiral pattern. Sprinkle top of peaches with a dusting of cinnamon. Place tart on a cookie sheet and cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, only removing foil for the last five minutes.

5. Remove to wire rack. If your peaches are especially juicy, there may be small puddles of peach juice around peaches or on filling, dip the corner of a dry paper towel to soak up any standing peach juice. Cool completely. To serve, remove tart from pan by pushing up on the removable bottom. Tip: Because crust is delicate and flaky, allow tart to remain on bottom tin while cutting. Slide a spatula between bottom tin and crust to loosen each piece before carefully lifting and placing on individual serving plates.

Nutritional Information per serving: 179 calories, 11 g carbohydrate, 13.8 g total fat, 3.7 g saturated fat, 2.3 g fiber, 4.8 g protein

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2009

How does this recipe compare with a traditional peach tart? You might think a peach tart would be a lower carb choice because it doesn't have a top crust, but you would be mistaken. The bottom crust alone contains 1¼ cups wheat flour, not to mention the loads of sugar in the filling! The carbohydrates in my recipe are mainly derived from heart-healthy ground almonds and naturally sweet fresh peaches. For comparison, the nutritional information for a same size piece of peach tart made from a traditional recipe contains an astonishing 380 calories, 53.9 g carbohydrate, 17.8 g total fat, 8.5 g saturated fat, 1.6 g fiber, 3.5 g protein.

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