Recently, I was trying to figure out what dessert to bring to a Lunar New Year party. More specifically, I was trying to figure out what dessert to bring that was not red bean cream puffs, because I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making the craquelin topping and I still needed something bite-sized and tasty. I was going through my old recipes when I came across my post about honey-cornflake crunchies and it occurred to me that they might make a neat base for a different kind of dessert combining honey with some other flavor components.
I decided to flavor my filling with cardamom, since it’s often paired with honey. I’d originally planned to make a simple stabilized whipped cream filling, but concluded that it would be too light in comparison to the crunchy base and opted instead to give it a richer mouthfeel by combining two concepts– stabilized whipped cream and cooked-flour frosting. Both involve beating a thickened pudding-like mixture into the dairy– it’s just that the frosting uses butter instead of liquid cream. My experimental recipe worked beautifully, and I’ll definitely be using it in the future.
Of course, once I’d settled on cream-filled tartlets, I felt that they needed something more, for texture, and flavor. After a false start (persimmons apparently just went out of season, boo!) I settled on pears and pistachios, both classic pairings with cardamom.
I really enjoyed the finished tartlets– the crunchy cornflake crust was excellent, and the soft cream filling balanced it out nicely. The pears cut through the creaminess and the pistachios really supported the floral aspects of the cardamom. All in all, an excellent dessert, and one I’ll be riffing on for future parties.
Honey-Cardamom Pear Tartlets
5 cups cornflakes, crushed into medium-small pieces (measure before crushing)
1/4 cup butter
2 tbs. honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line 12 muffin pans with paper or foil liners.
2. Melt butter and honey together in the microwave or on the stovetop.
3. Pour mixture over cornflakes and add salt. Stir until crushed flakes are completely moistened.
4. Scoop mixture into lined muffin pans and use a tart shaper or spoon to tamp it down and along the sides to form a crust shape.
5. Bake crusts for 10 minutes and let cool completely.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 tbs. cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream, cold
- In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cardamom, and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth.
- Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it looks like hot pudding.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl, stir in the vanilla, and cool to room temperature.You can also refrigerate it, but it needs to come back to room temp before you proceed with the next step.
- Beat the room-temperature butter until smooth. Slowly add the pudding mixture a spoonful at a time and continue to beat until fully incorporated. You want to keep beating until any lumps of butter are gone, or they’ll firm up when you add the cold cream in the next step.
- Add the cream and continue to whip until it thickens and fluffs up to piping consistency. I will note that the photos here are of a double recipe, which makes things easier to beat in a stand mixer, but it’ll still work with smaller amounts if you keep working at it.
Sautéed Pear Topping
2 ripe pears
2 tbs. honey
pinch of ground cardamom
1. Peel, core, and dice your pears into 1/4″ pieces.
2. In a medium skillet, mix pears, honey, and cardamom and sauté until the pears begin to brown around the edges. Set aside and cool completely.
1/2 cup shelled raw pistachios
1 tbs. granulated sugar
1 tbs. honey
1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat until sugar dissolves and honey syrup thickens to coat the nuts.
2. Pour onto a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely before chopping into coarse pieces.
Pipe cream filling into cooled tart shells and top with a spoonful of chilled pears. Garnish with chopped candied pistachios. These will keep a few hours in the refrigerator, but no longer than that– the cornflakes get a little soft after a while.