Caramelized garlic tart

Perhaps I am still getting over my recent garlic-withdrawal, but this is another Ottolenghi recipe I just could not resist: a tart filled with the cloves from 3 (!) heads of garlic, caramelized in balsamic vinegar, and two kinds of goat cheese. A toddler nightmare, but for me a savory tart nirvana.
Just like with the toffee brownies and the carrot-apple-walnut muffins, there is an “extra” step: you have to caramelize the garlic first. But just like with the brownies and the muffins, it is oh so worth it!
On the bright side: this time Mr. Ottolenghi lets us get away with a shop-bought puff pastry.

And also: peeling and caramelizing about 40 cloves of garlic is slightly time-consuming, but in no way challenging and can be done in advance. The same goes for prebaking the pastry shell. In fact, you can bake the whole tart in advance and then reheat it, which makes it a great dish for entertaining. I made it yesterday when we had some friends over for dinner and everyone asked for seconds, including my 12-year-old daughter, who has fortunately outgrown the garlic-opposed stage (unlike her brother).

I pronounced it the best savory tart ever, and I say that as someone who, as a vegetarian, has eaten and made a fair share of savory tarts. P.S. For those of you concerned about the impact of garlic on your social life: blanched, caramelized garlic is in no way “smelly”!

Caramelized garlic tart

From Yotam Ottolenghi: Plenty
serves 6 to 8

375 g all-butter puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
220 ml water
¾ tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
120 g soft, creamy goat’s cheese (such as Rosary)
120 g hard, mature goat’s cheese (such as one from Woolsery Cheese)
2 free-range eggs
100 ml double cream
100 ml creme fraiche
salt and black pepper

Have ready a shallow, loose- bottomed 28 cm fluted tart tin. Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the tin, plus a little extra. Line the tin with the pastry. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/Gas mark 4. Place the tart case in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, then bake for further 5 – 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

While the tart is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ tsp salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most are coated are in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese. In a jug whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface.

Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees Celsius/Gas Mark 3 and place the tart inside. Bake for 35- 45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Then take out of tin, trim the pastry edge if needed, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm (it reheats well) with a crisp salad.

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