Well, the original title for this recipe is Maxim’s Flan de Carrotes, which sounds fancy. Really fancy. Something right out of an old-style French restaurant, and, in fact, that’s what Maxim’s restaurant in Chicago was in the 1960s and 1970s. Those days are long gone, but, thanks to the power of scratchin’ and Jaya Saxena’s compilation, Lost Recipes, you can try Flan de Carrotes.
Now, we didn’t make quite the original recipe. Instead of the pastry crust suggested, we made our standard Pâte Brisée, which we find to be the perfect crust. Plus, we didn’t make a whole 9-inch tart; instead, we went with four individual tartlets, which works better for the two of us (the photos will reflect that). If you do go for individual tartlets, you can cut the amount of carrot filling in half.
The original crust was very similar to the Pâte Brisée we suggest, and, if you really want, you can find it easily enough on the Internet. For carrots, we use organic. They’re just slightly higher in price, so we think it’s worth it. Same with the heavy cream, but that has the advantage of being just cream: no diglycerides, no carrageenan, just cream.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Set a rack close to the middle of the oven.
Fit crust. On a lightly floured surface, or by placing the dough between two pieces of parchment, roll the crust into a 10-inch circle. Transfer crust to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, using care to press it into the sides. Trim excess and cover the bottom with parchment or aluminum foil and weigh down using pie weights, dried beans, or rice.
Blind Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the crust is golden brown. Remove and let the shell cool, but leave the oven on.
Slice carrots. Cut carrots into thin slices; about 1/8 inch thick should be good. Divide these into two piles; a small pile of about 1/2 cup of slices to use as decoration, and the rest to make the filling.
Cook decorative carrots. Place the 1/2 cup of carrot slices in a small saucepan and cover with about an inch of water. Add about a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Stew filling carrots. In a larger saucepan, combine remaining carrots, 1/2 cup water, a pinch of salt, sugar, half the butter (1 stick), and the heavy cream. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are very tender and liquid is nearly reduced, about 20 minutes. Watch while cooking because the liquid can boil over (as we learned).
Blend. Transfer the stewed carrots to a blender and blend smooth. The purée will be quite thick, so you might have to stop and scrape it down occasionally, but, once it’s smooth, start adding the remaining butter a tablespoon at a time, blending it into the purée. Finally, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
Fill crust. Scrape the filling into the baked crust and smooth using a spatula. Top with the reserved carrot pieces and press lightly into the surface.
Bake. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, remove from tart pan, then slice and serve.
Wow! These were rich! We had one tartlet each for lunch and felt as if we’d eaten enough for four people. With all the cream and butter packed into these tartlets, we couldn’t see how people could possibly eat these along with a meal. They seemed to be a meal all by themselves. But, we do say they were tasty, packed with carrot flavor, and with a bright orange color, making them stand out at the table. But, they’re troublesome, with the crust, the stewing, and the blending, so making these should be reserved for special occasions, such as holidays. We’ll say three stars, mainly because few people would eat a side this rich and decadent today.