Saturday, December 3, 2011

Raspberry Creme Brulee Tarte and a giveaway

I admit it. The scale doesn't lie. I was naughty in Paris. Let's not talk about the creamy cheeses and wonderful wines I indulged in. We'll go straight to dessert for this post - something I'm not averse to when you're in a city with the plethora of exquisite sweets that Paris offers. I ate pastries, cakes and ice cream at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. All of them were delicious and some of them were divine - including this raspberry creme brulee tarte from Mariage Freres, a place that holds sweet memories for me in more ways than one. 

Mariage Freres has several locations in Paris, including its flagship store and restaurant in the Le Marais neighborhood, the one I've visited on past trips. The business started back in the 17th century when King Louis IV and the French East India Company dispatched a man named Nicolas Mariage to Persia to sign a trade agreement, while Nicolas' brother traveled to Madagascar on behalf of the same company. Centuries later, other Mariage descendants opened the first retail establishment in 1984 and the tea is considered by many connoisseurs to be the best in the world. It's where Claridge's of London gets its tea and what Japan Airlines serves to its first class customers.   


You know they're serious about their teas when you're handed a more than 100-page booklet of descriptions of the various teas to choose from. 
The tins are lined up on a wooden shelf, resembling an old apothecary shop, while the waiters run back and forth to grab their orders from the tea-brewer.


The china teapot is delivered table-side inside a silver caddy to keep it at the perfect temperature.



Naturally, there are desserts to accompany the tea, including the raspberry creme brulee tart at the top. I've eaten it there before, but didn't see it on the menu this time. When I asked the waiter about it, he produced it from the kitchen for me, providing me with another trip down memory lane. But truth be told, I did start with a more appropriate lunch - an absolute work of art that turned out to be the most expensive cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwich I'd ever eaten. But then again, I've never eaten bread made with green matcha tea or a smoked salmon sandwich decorated with fish roe and pansies. 
Whether you simply have tea or eat lunch at Mariage Freres, be prepared to open your wallet.  It's not just a Lipton tea bag plunked into a mug. But the experience at Mariage Freres - from the service to the carefully prepared and presented food - is worth every centime. That's why I'd like you to share in a bit of the experience with me and why I'm giving away a tin of one of Mariage Freres' most popular tea varieties - Marco Polo. If you read French, you can read the description for yourself below. Otherwise, take my word for it that it's a blend of scents of fruits and flowers from China and Tibet, and its extraordinary bouquet is one of the most mythic of all perfumed teas. Just leave a comment in the comment section of this post - and an email address so I can have some way to contact you if you win.


You can also actually order Mariage Freres tea from the company's website (click here) and it will be sent to you from France. Some stores in the U.S. (like Williams Sonoma and Dean and Deluca) also carry a small selection of Mariage Freres tea. And if you're not afraid of facing your scale and want to try to recreate that creme brulee tarte ('tis the season - be brave and forget the calories), here's a recipe that will give you even more of the Mariage Freres experience.


Raspberry Creme Brulee Tarte


Printable Recipe Here

For tarte shell:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4- 5 T. ice water

For custard filling:
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 whole large egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • dash of salt

For the bruleed topping:
1/4 cup sugar plus 2 more tablespoons sugar

1/2 pint fresh raspberries

In a food processor, place the flour, sugar and salt. Give it a whir to blend everything, then add the butter and pulse a few times. Add the ice water until it forms a ball, or nearly forms a ball. You don't want to overwork the dough or it will be tough.

Roll it out on a floured board and place it inside a 12 inch tart pan, overlapping the inside edge to make it twice the thickness. Prick some holes in the bottom and place in the freezer for 20 minutes to a half hour. After you remove it from the freezer, blind-bake the crust at 350 degrees. To blind-bake it, place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper inside the crust and weigh it down with pie weights or use beans and rice, as I do. Bake it for about 20 minutes with the weights inside, then remove the weights (carefully) and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until the shell is golden brown.

Let the crust cool. When ready to make the filling, line the inside of the tarte shell with the fresh raspberries. Cook the filling in the following manner: Split the vanilla bean down the middle and place it in a pot with the milk and cream. Cook them together at a simmer for about 10 minutes or until piping hot, then turn off the flame and let the bean sit in the liquid to absorb the flavor more.Whisk the egg yolks and egg with the sugar and salt. Slowly add them to the milk and cream mixture until blended. If you're worried about any particles that may have formed, place the mixture through a sieve after everything is all mixed together.

Carefully pour the mixture into the shell over the raspberries. Place the tarte pan on a cookie sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until it's set but still wobbly in the center. It will set more after you remove it from the oven.

Before serving, sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and either use a blow torch or place it under the broiler for a few minutes, making sure to rotate the tarte to get the entire surface exposed to the flame until it's browned and crunchy.


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38 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love tea and tea-based treats. That tart looks really luscious!

Cheers,

Rosa

Anonymous said...

Although the tea giveaway is lovely, that dessert has me drooling at 8am! Your trip sounds lovely. Keep the details/pictures coming.

Joan

bellini said...

U's with anonymous and am drooling at 6:00 AM. This is a tart to be reckoned with!

Carol said...

Yet another reason I must go back to Paris! I don't know how I didn't know about this before - I am such a tea aficionado. Everything you ate would be exactly what I would order! Fantastic post.
C

Krista said...

I wish I could read French! I love tea and your creme brulee looks divine.

kigallegos at hotmail dot com

Stacey Snacks said...

Since I am not a tea lover (I am a coffee girl, as you know), I never go into this beautiful place in the Marais, though I may, just for that beautiful smoked salmon sandwich w/ roe on top!!! Gorgeous!

Randi Lynne said...

I really enjoy good tea, but the tart looks most appetizing!

Sandy said...

It is my dream to go there! I worked in a tea shop that closed down. They don't do well in this county, which is a shame.

Leann said...

Wow! Lucky you! I would love to try this tea... and the tart looks pretty amazing as well. chefl@swbell.net

The Sabbatical Chef said...

Thank you-- merci beaucoup-- so much for this stunning post and photos and recipe! I have walked past the Marais shop several times, but maybe next month I will stop in for a treat.

Anonymous said...

The tart looks so yummy I am drooling at an early hour..Would love to try the tea, I drink tea all day long, that tea would be so over the moon for me and my family...happy holidays, hanukkah, christmas and a peaceful, loving New Year in 2012..from a tea lover since birth mary jane s. from momanddad00@clear.net!!!!!!!!!

black eyed susans kitchen said...

The tart looks scrumptious! When I look at your side-bar my mouth waters.

Mary Ann said...

I would love to win the tea. I would just love to have a cup right now on this cold and rainy day.

Jeanne said...

I would eat that tart without even thinking about the scale! And the tea sounds divine - I'd love to try it.

Claudia said...

"Mythic" tea - oh my - love that description. Oh to replicate the most expensive cream cheese/salmon sandwich - that is gorgeous! Now my daughter has a creme brulee fixation - so much so - that I think she's getting a kitchen torch for Christmas. Somewhere during the 'tis the season mayhem - I will make this for her (and me).

kimt said...

love your descriptions...and the tea sounds so wonderful.

Amaro e Dolce said...

Exquisite! I learned about a "proper cup of tea" from my mom, and now my teenage daughter is learning too.

Siena said...

Great - and jealousy-inducing post - and I'd love to try that tea.

cupcake said...

This looks like my idea of heaven. Delicious teas and desserts.

Boi Polloi said...

Wow, this place looks amazing. We drink tea nearly every night in my home. And that sandwich? Wow. Wallet breaking I'm sure but it looks delicious!

ann katherine said...

Love the post. So nice that you do these giveaways from time to time. Ann Katherine akgrif2@uky.edu

Peter M said...

You always travel in style and bring back some delicious food memories! That tarte should be eaten over the holidays, no doubt!

janie said...

Your tea sandwich was a piece of art. Way back when I used to know French and so I was delighted to see that I actually understood the description!

ikkinlala said...

I think that's the fanciest sandwich I've ever seen.

Mason's Mom said...

This looks so delicious! I think baby #2 and I will have to give it a try!

AdriBarr said...

Ciao Linda, Che buona! What a beautiful tart!! And I bet it tastes as good as it looks. I love creme brulee, so this one will be right up my alley. Buon natale!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Oh, Linda, that tart looks divine. We have walked by the storefront but never went in. I had to laugh about your comment about your expensive smoked salmon sandwich. I've made a similar comment several times when we have been in Paris. My family loves creme brulee and this tart would be a lovely dessert on Christmas day.

Chiara said...

Parigi, che meravigliosa città, partirei anche adesso ! grazie per questo reportage,bellissime foto! un abbraccio...

Liz said...

I LOVE tea and can't believe I stayed in the Marais and never visited this place.

Liz said...

I LOVE tea and can't believe I was in the Marais two years ago and never visited this place. Maybe someday!

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

Oooh, I haven't been to Mariage Freres in a dozen years, but your post brings back great memories. And that tart looks awesome.

Dewi said...

Your brûlée tarte truly tempting!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Ilove hearing about your travels you always go to the best places!I'm a coffee girl but would love to be sitting there sipping tea and eating that wonderful tarte, it's the perfect holiday dessert! Dare I make it?

Gracie said...

Sometimes you HAVE to indulge yourself!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What a wonderful experience and such elegant food and tea, Linda. When in Paris like this all thoughts of a budget should go out the window!

My son's in laws gave us a gift basket one Christmas from Dean and Deluca that had a small box of Mariage Freres tea in it. The tea was absolutely exquisite!

I am drooling over the raspberry creme brulee tarte...perhaps I can break my strict pre wedding diet for that?

Deirdre said...

Your raspberry creme brulee tart looks so good. I may have to make this for my wedding anniversary.

Dee
dbyrne1[at]gmail[dot]com

lisa is cooking said...

I love this attention to detail for serving tea! I'd probably never be able to decide which kind to order. The tart look fabulous too, and I bet it was lovely with the tea!

Kevin said...

That creme brulee tart looks so good!