Blood Orange Creme Brulee Tarts are rich, creamy, and packed with fresh flavor from juicy blood oranges and sweet coconut milk custard. Topped witih a caramelized sugar crust. Can you dream of a better dessert?
I'm not sure what it is about tiny tarts that has me completely smitten. Especially mini tarts of the custard variety - like the gin and tonic tarts I shared recently. Perhaps it's the crumbly pastry base or the velvety custard filling that retains that slight wobble. So when I picked up a bunch of beautiful blood oranges with ruby flecked skin I knew that they were destined to be made into these fancy little orange creme brulee tarts.
What is a Creme Brulee Tart?
I have always been a huge creme brulee junkie - I blame it on my Italian roots. I didn't have much of a sweet totth growing up, but creme brulee was one of the few desserts that I could always polish off. We reserved it for special occassions, like Christmas or family celebrations.
Creme brulee literally means "burnt cream", a reference to the caramelized crust that sits atop most varieties. The inside of the creme brulee tart is a creamy custard, usually flavored with vanilla or caradmom. More inventive recipes infuse flavors like orange or even ginger!
While often thought of as an Italian dessert (and definitely popular in Italian culture), creme brulee is actually thought to have originated in Catalonia. The first recipes for creme brulee tarts appeared in Catalan cookbooks dating back to the 16th century. In those recipes, the custard was topped with sugar and burnt with a hot, iron rod! I guess we have simplified things these days with the invention of these tiny kitchen torches.
Let's Make Blood Orange Creme Brulee Tarts!
Moving on to these blood orange creme brulee tarts... they really are something special. Now traditional creme brulees are truly just custard with a sugar crust. They are usually served in individual ramekins. I put my own spin on this and turned them into little tarts with a flaky, pastry crust.
Since I try to limit dairy, I experimented with coconut milk instead of the traditional cream. It was amazing! The custard still had a great creaminess, and the coconut flavor added a whole new dimension to the creme brulee tarts. In fact, the coconut was a really great match for the fresh citrus flavors from the blood oranges.
The only disappointment is that despite the vibrant ruby red juice of the blood oranges, the filling of these Blood Orange Creme Brûlée Tarts takes on an slightly brownish tone when cooked. I was hoping for more of that bright red color! But you can't win them all. I knew they would taste amazing anyway.
You will need a kitchen torch to transform the sugar into that iconic crunchy, golden crust. Don't skip this - we all know it's the best part!
- 1 cup plain flour sifted, all purpose, 200g
- ¼ cup brown sugar sifted, 30g
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter chilled, chopped into cubes, 75g
- zest of 1 blood orange
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup cold water 60ml
- TART FILLING
- 2 eggs
- ⅔ cup coconut milk 150ml
- ⅓ cup caster sugar 70g
- zest of 2 oranges
- ⅔ cup of freshly squeezed blood orange juice 150ml
- BRULEE TOPPING
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Start by making the pastry. In the bowl of a food processor add the flour and sugar and process to combine. Add the orange zest and butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water and process until the mixture starts to come together. Remove from the food processor and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 355 degrees (180 Celsius) and lightly grease 8 10cm loose bottom mini tart tins. Roll out the pastry until roughly 5mm thick and then cut circles from the pastry that are 2 cm larger in diameter than the tart tin. Line the each tart tin and trim excess. Chill for 15 minutes before lining with baking paper and filling with pastry weights. Bake for 7 minutes before removing the weights and baking for a further 3 minutes or until dry and lightly golden. Set aside to cool.
- For the filling whisk together the eggs, caster sugar, orange zest and juice. Add the coconut milk and whisk until combined. Carefully divide the filling between the mini tarts and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until the filling is just set. Set aside to cool.
- Just before serving sprinkle a little sugar over each tart and use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar to a light caramel.