I gave you all the love I got
I gave you more than I could give
I gave you love
I gave you all that I have inside
And you took my love
You took my love
No Ordinary Love, song by Sade
During the years when I was still stumbling around in the dark trying to search for my soulmate, my favorite go-to songs for romance have mainly been the ones sung by Sade. Her public persona has always been elegant, mysterious, sexy, seemingly just-out-of-reach... everything I'd aspired to be - well, back in the heydays, anyway. Nowadays of course, I've moved on to become the person I am, my own person, and I'm happy with the way things are. Only once in a (very rare) while, when it's just me and my iPod and no chattering kids, family members or friends in the vicinity, the soothing sound of Sade's melodies still draws me in, lulls me. Her voice, smooth as liquid gunmetal, and her words reside in a small corner of my mind, I know them all by heart.
Below's music video of No Ordinary Love was actually released back in 1992. Nearly two decades later, this gorgeous woman seems not to have aged a single day! The fact that she's portraying a mermaid here resonates with my natural love of the sea and scuba diving shenanigans. More than once, I imagined Sade-the-mermaid as, ummm, me... (okay, permission to laugh all you want).
My recipe today was an effort to celebrate my triumphs in love (who really cares about the failures?) by making something as smooth and enchanting as that liquid gunmetal voice. In a shade of gunmetal grey, even.
The challenge was not merely how to get the exact hue, but also how to make such a dark grey-colored dish edible and purposefully alluring if it's ever handed to someone on a plate. I decided to try a simple tart, with very minimal oven time. Sound good so far? I toyed with the idea of creating a very stormy grey crust with a pure white (ie. non-cooked) filling. Black sesame have been a feature in several of my recipes lately, but hey, my stock hasn't yet run out and I had to utilize this ingredient again to get that very, very dark crust. When my crusts came out of the oven, you would've found me doing my jiggy dance of joy because they'd turned out in the exact shade that I wanted - gunmetal grey, baby!
Since this tart is all about the dark and also beautiful aspects of love, I felt the nutty-flavored black sesame crust would contrast nicely with a smooth, rich and creamy Mascarpone filling. A blackened heart positioned smack in the middle signifies my love - stamped in black and white, for always.
Mascarpone Tart With Black Sesame Crust
Makes 12 mini-tarts/one 12-inch tart
150g plain flour
100g black sesame powder
100g caster sugar
1/2 cup cold milk
3 teaspoons powdered gelatine
250g whipping cream
1/2 cup caster sugar
250g Mascarpone cheese
2 teaspoons black sesame powder
2 teaspoons black sesame powder
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Make the crust first: Place the butter, flour and black sesame in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre of the bowl, add sugar and break an egg into it. Knead with your fingers until you get a pliable pastry mixture.
4. Grease the tart tins with butter. Roll dough into little balls and press into the base of the tart tin. Roll reemaining dough in between your palms to form 'ropes', arrange this against the inside edge of the tin and press against the edge to flatten and form the wall of the crust. Prick the base with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. If you’re using a standard pie-tin, bake blind for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C, remove the parchment paper and baking beans and bake crust for another 10 minutes. Take out of the oven and set aside to cool. Once cooled, release crust gently from the pan and place on a plate or tray.
5. For the filling, add the gelatine to the cold milk in a small pan to soften it, then heat the pan gently, stirring to dissolve the gelatine. Do not allow the milk to boil. Remove pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
6. In a bowl, beat the whipped cream and sugar until it forms soft peaks, then fold in the mascarpone and cooling gelatine mixture. Pour 1/4 cup of this mascarpone into a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons black sesame powder. This dark mixure will be used to form the heart designs against the white filling.
7. Spoon or pour light mascarpone mixture carefully into tart crust up to very near the top. Bear in mind there is no baking involved after this, so the filling won't expand. Smooth the surface with a spatula, then spoon small dollops of dark mascarpone on parts of the white filling. Carefully drag the tip of a small knife across the dark mixture, forming a heart shape.
8. Chill tray in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or overnight until the filling is set. Serve cool or at room temperature.