Queen of Hearts Tarts


The Queen of Heart’s stolen tarts cause a lot of drama in Alice in Wonderland, including a wacky trial and much threat of beheading. You can enjoy these with a very calm and reasonable afternoon tea – as long as you remember to paint them red!!

I made a strawberry curd similar to the lemon curd that I used for Sansa’s Lemoncakes, and topped that with a slice of strawberry and some bright red strawberry glaze. On the podcast I mentioned that if I had it to do again, I would probably either just put the glaze in a thin layer, or else forgo the glaze and pile them up a little more with strawberries brushed with a simple syrup – either I think would be good. However, after a day or two of leftovers, my heart softened to this style (I put less cornstarch than most recipes, so it’s not so gelatinous), so a couple of slices with glaze is also an option.

The strawberry curd and strawberry glaze recipes below make WAY more than you will need for these mini tarts, so you also have some options there – either make a large tart instead of mini tarts, halve the recipes, or else just enjoy the leftovers. Recommendation for extra strawberry curd: spread on top of muffins, toast or bagels. Recommendation for extra strawberry glaze: stirred into plain yogurt or poured on top of pancakes (along with some fresh strawberries of course). I’m sure you can think of more!

Queen of Hearts Tarts

For the dough
Adapted from Sandra Gutierrez’s Butter Pie Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Butter a mini muffin tin (or mini tart pan if you possess such a thing).

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, sugar, orange zest, and butter, until the mixture looks grainy. Add in just enough water that when combined it makes a dough. Turn out onto a floured board or counter, and roll about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut circles (I used the top of a mason jar) and press them into the prepared muffin tin, making as nice an edge as you can manage. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge at least 30 minutes.

For the strawberry curd
Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 eggs
  • juice of 1 lemon and half an orange
  • 1/4 cup pureed strawberries
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Cream the butter, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs one by one. In a blender, combine lemon and orange juices, strawberries, and salt and blend thoroughly. Press through a fine mesh strainer then combine with butter/sugar mixture.

Pour into a saucepan and cook VERY SLOWLY over low heat, stirring, until thickened (10 minutes or so, mine took longer – it will thicken just below boiling point). Remove from heat and cool completely.

For the strawberry glaze

  • 1 heaping cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

(Full disclosure, I sliced the strawberries and let them sit in sugar for 10 minutes beforehand to release the juices – it’s all going the same place though so this might have been unnecessary). Blend strawberries, sugar, and 3/4 cup water and push through a fine mesh strainer into a sauce pan. Cook on medium low heat, stirring, until thicken, then remove from heat.

To finish
Prick the pie crusts and bake in a 350° oven until golden brown. (You’ll just bake the crusts, not the filling). Remove from the oven and spoon half to 3/4 full of lemon curd, then top with your choice of just glaze, or strawberries (slices or halves) brushed with glaze. Cool completely. You can store them in the fridge.

Serve with barely sweetened yogurt or whipped cream.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 13: Alice in Wonderland

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Besan and Almond Ladoo

Mithai are India sweets, and go hand and hand with celebrations such as weddings – which we get in countless Bollywood films including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge!

Ladoo are made from flours or grains, sugar, and either fried or mixed with ghee. They are shaped into balls and can be eaten in a couple bites – or fed to your loved ones as is a happy tradition! They can have nuts mixed in, or different flavorings like cardamom, ginger, or coconut. These particular ones are made with besan (chickpea or gram flour) and ground almonds, and flavored with my favorite, if overused, combo of cardamom and rosewater.

As I mentioned on the podcast, I was a little apprehensive making these because I didn’t know what I was aiming for, but the final product turned out quite nice so I feel confident sharing this recipe. The things I would tweak for next time would be to try extra hard to obtain coarse-ground besan (although the fine-ground wasn’t a disaster at all), and to cook the mixture just a little longer until it deepened in color just a bit more. Otherwise I was happy (and relieved!) with the final product.

Besan and Almond Ladoo

Adapted from Easy Food Smith

  • 2 cups besan (chickpea flour, coarse-ground if possible)
  • 1/2 cup ghee (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and ground (you can make them either chunky or fine to your preference)
  • seeds of 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater
  • optional: sugar mixed with a small pinch of well-crumbled dried rose petals for rolling, dried rose petals for garnish

In a large dry pan or wok, on low heat, toast besan until it smells fragrant, about 15 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add ghee and cook, stirring, another 20 minutes or so until the mixture smells nutty and fragrant and has deepened slightly in color.

Stir in sugar, almonds, cardamom and rosewater. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, shape approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons into small balls. Mine were still a little melty and didn’t hold their shape well, so you can stick them in the fridge and try again.

Optionally you can roll in sugar and rose petals, and garnish with rose petals, but only if you are obsessed like me and like eating food that tastes like perfume.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 12: DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGE

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