As we mentioned last week, The Spice Necklace: My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life by Ann Vanderhoof is now available in paperback!
For two years, Ann and her husband Steve sailed through the Caribbean, exploring the local island cultures and flavors that would eventually become the inspiration for The Spice Necklace. Though we (unfortunately) can’t rescue you from the cold and whisk you to a Caribbean paradise, we can share some of Ann’s mouth-watering recipes.
Considering that today is Valentine’s Day, why not start with dessert? Chocolate may be a V-day staple, but Guadeloupean vanilla is the star of Ann’s "Torments of Love" pastries - and yes, they’re so good it hurts.
For the Torments of Love, You will need:
- 12 Frozen tart shells, thawed, or 12 muffin cups lined with pie or tart pastry
- 1/4 cup coconut jam (recipe follows), or other thick tropical fruit jam such as guava or pineapple (approx) (50 mL)
- 1 cup pastry cream (recipe follows) (250mL)
For cake topping:
- 1 extra-large egg
- 3 tbsp brown sugar (45 mL)
- 2 1/2 tbsp flour (35 mL)
- 1 tsp lemon zest (5 mL)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (2 mL)
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). To make the cake topping, beat the egg with the brown sugar until the mixture thickens, then gently stir in flour, lemon zest, and vanilla.
- Spread about 3/4 tsp (4 mL) of jam in the bottom of each tart shell or pastry-lined muffin cup.
- Top the jam with 1 heaping tablespoon (20 mL) of the pastry cream, leaving a little space for the cake topping.
- Cover the pastry cream with a layer of cake topping.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 18 minutes until golden.
Makes 12 tarts. Best eaten on the day they’re made.
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (75 mL)
- 1 tbsp flour (15 mL)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch (15 mL)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup light cream (250 mL)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (5 mL)
- 1 1/2 tsp butter (7mL)
- Combine sugar, flour, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and cream. Add to dry ingredients and cook over medium heat, whisking to keep lump-free, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened (about 10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.
- Cover and cool completely before using.
Makes 1 cup (250 mL). Can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated until using.
- 1 cup packed grated fresh coconut (250 mL)
- 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar (125 mL)
- 1/2 cup water (125 mL)
- 3 tbsp rum (45 mL)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (2 mL)
- Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook 30 to 40 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture has a thick, jam-like consistency.
- Cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1/2 cup (125 mL), enough for 2 batches of tarts. Try the jam spread on toast or scones. It will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Add some island flare to your special day and surprise your loved one with this delicious pastry! The best part, other than the food itself, is that none of Ann’s recipes require fancy kitchen gadgets and tools. So sit back, relax, and escape to your own private island with these heart - and soul - warming recipes.