Foodiva's Kitchen: Goji Berry Tart with Nutella and Spelt Crust

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Goji Berry Tart with Nutella and Spelt Crust

May you eat an unfamiliar dessert in a strange land at least once every three years.
May you wake up... and start dancing while you're still half-asleep.
May you spray-paint Rilke poems as graffiti on highway overpasses...
May you learn to identify by name 20 flowers, 15 trees, 10 clouds, and one extrasolar planet...
May you dream of taking a trip to the moon in a gondola powered by firecrackers and wild swans.

Rob Brezsny

Okay, for my very first recipe of the year, I turned to dessert which is my favorite course, of course! I wanted to bake with an unusual ingredient (for me, at least) and that is goji berries. They're commonly available everywhere now, especially in health stores, so why did I say they were unusual? Well, I haven't come across many desserts that have incorporated their flavors fully, they are usually just sprinkled onto/into the dish. That's something that begs to be rectified and I want to do it here, today.

Anyway, have you ever had goji berry custard tarts before? I mean, actual goji berries (or less benignly known as wolfberries) blended into a custard and hiding underneath it a pleasant dollop of Nutella? And what would you think if all that pink custard was contained in a crust made from spelt flour? Because that's exactly what I made.

 I love that you can still spot the husks in the spelt flour!

A few years back, the benefits of goji berries were impressed upon us when they were commercially touted as a superfood. As a premium health drink, goji is an expensive investment towards a superfunctioning body, however nowadays I see the dried berries being sold at supermarkets everywhere at reasonable prices. We normally consume them as a crunchy snack (better than a bag of crisps, hey!) or else we brew them in soups or as hot drinks.

In fact, goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to promote everything from circulation to longevity. There’s even an unsupported marketing claim that a man in China who consumed goji berries daily had lived to be 252 years old. Firstly, unless you want to be Rob Pattinson’s eternal squeeze (wolfberry, hello), who really wants to live that long? And secondly, the addition of Nutella to this recipe will quickly whittle away 200 out of that 252 years… so much for longevity!

As for the crust, I've seen a few baking recipes floating around that use spelt flour. Spelt apparently contains more protein than wheat, and the protein in spelt is easier to digest. Always one for helping my body along, I was curious to give it a try. While aisle-surfing at the supermarket the other day, I'd spotted spelt flour on the shelves, so of course I grabbed a bag to take home.

This spelt crust certainly lived up to my expectations, which doesn't mean anything considering I had none to begin with. It was nutty in flavor and the spelt provided a cookie like quality, crisp-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside, to the crust which I found simply delightful. It’s a surprisingly apt companion to the subtly sweet, tarty (somewhere between a cherry and a cranberry), unusual taste of goji. To be completely honest, you can omit the Nutella because its distinctive flavor is a distraction from the goji. But I wanted to include Nutella this time because let's face it, having Nutella around (in anything, even just sitting quietly in its jar!) makes the heart beat faster... Don't you think?


Okay, here's my overall verdict on the tart:
Spelt crust - thumbs up, nutty and super-scrumptious!
Goji custard filling - love the pinkish-turned-terracotta color after baking, and the fact that you can still taste the tartness of the berries amidst the swirl of vanilla and custard. The goji as a garnish provided a refreshing pop as you bite into the tart.
Nutella - hmm.. nommm... I'm sure there's a Nutella heaven out there somewhere!

By the way, if you didn't already know, I have a giveaway going on here. The closing date for entries is tomorrow, 5 January, so do check it out if you're at all interested.

Goji Berry Tart with Nutella and Spelt Crust
Makes six 3-inch tarts
Spelt Crust
300g wholemeal spelt flour (stoneground)
125g cold butter, chopped into cubes
100g caster sugar
1 egg

Goji Custard Filling
1/2 cup dried goji berries, soaked in water for 20 mins
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Nutella

1. Make the crust first: in a bowl, rub the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Make a well in the center of the mixture, add egg and gently knead the flour into a pastry ball. Spelt flour is very sticky to work with, so if you find the dough too sticky after adding the egg, just sprinkle extra spelt flour over the flour until it no longer sticks to your hands. Be careful not to overwork the dough. (At this point, you can
2. Preheat oven to 200C. Divide dough into 6 balls, take one and press onto the base and sides of a 3-inch tart pan (1-in deep) to form the crust. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls. Prick the base of the crust with a fork several times to release hot air while baking.
3. Place tart pans in the oven and immediately turn oven temperature down to 175C. Bake for 15 minutes.
4. In the meantime, prepare the filling. Drain the soaked goji berries, take about 1/2 cup of these and place in the blender with milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Leave some berries for garnishing (after soaking, the berries will expand and you'll have more than 1/2 cup). Process until thoroughly blended. Drain the mixture into a bowl using a fine sieve. This removes the goji seeds.
5. After 15 minutes, remove the semi-cooked spelt crust from the oven. Spoon a tablespoonful of Nutella into each crust (you can flatten the dollop slightly with your spoon). Then carefully pour the goji custard into the crust, filling it until just below the rim of the crust. Sprinkle some goji berries on top, they will sink slightly during baking. You can also garnish tarts with the soaked berries after baking, this looks more attractive but doesn't alter the taste in any way.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until custard is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Turn tarts out of pans and garnish with soaked goji berries, if you wish.


Sandra said...

I love this..and that last photo is just fabulous!!!:))Yum!!

Roxan said...

Maya, this looks so healthy and delicious! I have heard of goji berries and seen them in nutrition bars, but i've never seen a goji berry before. I thought it would be smaller :) If you have any leftover tarts, please send them my way!

Victoria said...

I've only had Goji berries in juice, but I love your use for them! This looks delicious, and not exactly healthy, but I wouldn't feel super guilty about eating it either :) I can usually justify eating anything, haha.

Trix said...

You are too funny: "This spelt crust certainly lived up to my expectations, which doesn't mean anything considering I had none to begin with." Ha!! I really do love the nutty flavor of spelt, but my flour does not have those husks in it!! I want of that.

michelangelo in the kitchen said...

I have seen these berries before in Chinatown and thought they were dried mini cayenne peppers. Did not even know they were called goji. You demystified this fruit for me with your new creation. This is just delicious looking and I can't wait to have a taste! Got to start using this antique spelt flour too before it goes extinct! Cheers!!!

Carolyn said...

I haven't actually tasted goji berries as yet, but this tart sure makes me want to try them. And the gobs of nutella at the bottom, oh yum!

Foodiva said...

Sandra, thanks!

Roxan, I've got to figure out to freeze dry my tarts first so they can survive the long journey over to you... Lol.

Victoria, like you, I can justify eating anything too! Why did you think I put goji in here, it's healthy, see? (You can forget about all the other stuff in there!)

Trix, the stonegrinding process probably has something to do with the husks being in there. You can't really tell from the baked texture crust that it's full of husks, though.

Arthur, goji and spelt have been around for so long, I just wonder why people don't use them more nowadays?

Carolyn, goji berries are very good for regulating blood pressure and all sorts of healthy benefits. Go on, give them a try!

penny aka jeroxie said...

Goji makes this healthy right? And spelt? ;) You sure come up with weird combos but I likey

blackbookkitchendiaries said...

i love the idea of mixing up goji berries and nutella.. i cant wait to give this a try. thanks for sharing this and have a great day.

Foodiva said...

Penny, what can I say? I'm a weird kind of gal! Haha, at least I make stuff people can actually EAT... ;-)

Bbkitchendiaries, thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment! Appreciate it much, mwaah!

Michael Toa said...

I love goji berries but I never had it in sweets, mostly in soups. Goji berries are good for you, so this must be a heathy, must-eat tart. Right? ;)

PS. Yes, I've been reading few lentils recipes too today.

Nourhan @ Miss Anthropist's Kitchen said...

I have never eaten goji berries but those look delicious!

Chef Dennis said...

what an interesting combination of flavors going on in that little tart! I've used goji berries in herbal remedies many times, but have never tried them by themselves.
You really did a great job thinking outside the box, the spelt crust looks perfect!

Green Girl @ A little bit of everything said...

up till tonight the only use of goji berry I knew was in juice. I have to look at my local health store to see if they actually sell them - i didn't see till now. Thanks for sharing this info
and the Nutella, yummy, there's definitelly a Nutella Heaven somewhere

Hope you're having a wonderful day

Foodiva said...

Michael, Nourhan and Dennis, goji berries contain some of the most potent antioxidants. Why do you think I look so young? LOL... Seriously, they're really delicious as snack food, and I realize now, in baked goodies too!

Green Girl, I have yet to discover your name, but thanks for dropping by. Let's try to discover this Nutella Heaven together, shall we?

tasteofbeirut said...

OK the spelt it is ! Next time I will try it. the goji berries I have tried before and the nutella was my teens best friend; all in all a very remarkable tart.

Foodiva said...

Thanks, Joumana. The taste of spelt can be addictive, so don't say I didn't warn you! Looking forward to your next baking adventure!

Magic of Spice said...

Oh my this is what I call dessert!
What a fantastic combination and I adore goji berries :)

Jean said...

These tarts look awesome! I don't blame you for making these your new years post. You've also convinced me to try spelt flour. I think I had a box of spelt at one time but I never used it. Will try very soon. Thanks for the inspiration!

Evan Thomas said...

This sounds delicious! I love the idea of a pocket of rich nutella in the center. What an excellent surprise.

Stormy @LaMaoomba said...

Looks delicious, sounds interesting. May have to try the goji berries with something other than nutella. Maybe a cream/custard filling instead?

Faith said...

I am so impressed with this beautiful dessert! What a great use for goji berries and I love how you paired it with Nutella!

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Glad you found me on Foodbuzz.Good luck on your fresh new year!

Kate @ said...

Goji berries are so good. Plus Nutella? Woooohoooo...lucky those that got to eat these tarts!

briarrose said...

What beautiful tarts! Nutella...always gets a thumb up. ;) Lovely mix of ingredients.

Kylie @ A Hungry Spoon said...

This looks incredible--and yes, I do believe everyone's heart beats a little faster when Nutella is in the room :)

I have yet to try Goji berries (they are hard to come by in my town), but I've definitely read a lot of the health food hype surrounding them in recent years. They look wonderful with your tarts!

Anna's Table said...

I had been hearing about all the health benefits goji berries a while back, so decided to post a recipe incorporating this new wonder berry. Can't say I'm a fan. You do really need great tasting ingredients to mask their bitter taste. You could not have picked a better ingredient than Nutella, and to quote Mary Poppins,...."help the medicine go down"

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