Dudes, this right here is last-meal type material. It's sort of involved—several bowls and pans and such—but it's this kind of methodical, delicious madness that makes the last day on earth worth living, right? Right! Say it with me: PEANUT BUTTER MALTBALLS. We're spending our end time wrapping presents and plotting Christmas brunch, but that's because we already survived our apocalyptic gauntlet when my aggressively jet-lagged family collided into a small rental house in DC last night. There were eyerolls, barks, threats, and meatloaf, but I sustained my sanity on memories of a just-finished road trip and this tart, enjoyed a few days prior in North Carolina with Joey's equally vibrant yet much more polite family. And that trip to North Carolina, along with our visits to Brooklyn, Philadelphia, DC, Richmond, and all the attendant pie shops, is really worth a few words, but my family is in town and we've got nerves to step on and cards to play. If you're hunkered down somewhere with your family, do yourselves the service of making this tart; it's involved and incredible and definitely worth it. Happy end times!
Adapted from Baked Explorations, one of my very favorites
Everyone online raved about this malted brown sugar crust, but it did not turn out for me which is totally my fault. I made the crust by hand and almost certainly overworked the butter, so it pooled in a sticky mess in my tart pan; I ended up using an easy press-in shortbread crust at the last minute since this tart was on a timeline! You’ll likely have no problem, but in the event that you do, this quick shortbread crust does the trick.
For the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt salt
1 tablespoon malted milk powder (Carnation brand is pretty easy to find at major grocery outlets)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into half-inch pieces
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the caramelized crispies
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups crispy rice cereal
For the ganache
8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons malted milk powder
For the malted pastry cream
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
One large egg yolk
One large egg
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons malted milk powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces heavy cream
In addition: 1 cup crushed malt balls, along with any number of malt balls for decorating the top. I used peanut butter malt balls!
1. Make the crust: spray or butter a 9-inch tart pan. Pulse all of the crust ingredients in your food processor until you get a crumbly mixture, then press the crumbs into your tart pan; use a metal dry measure cup to press the bottom and sides to ensure even thickness. Put the tart crust into the freezer for at least 20 minutes. Or, wrap the unbaked crust and keep it in the freeze for up to a few days if you’re looking to make this ahead.
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove tart pan from the freezer, put it on a baking sheet, and bake it in the oven until golden brown, between 20 and 30 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
3. Make the caramelized crispies: line a cookie sheet with a Silpat or aluminum foil sprayed with vegetable oil. In a small saucepan, add the water and sugar, and bring to a boil over low heat; allow to boil for one minute. Add the rice cereal and stir with a rubber spatula until cereal is dry. Continue to cook, stirring all the while, until wisps of smoke rise and sugar turns deep amber. Stir to ensure that all the crispies are evenly coated, then dump out onto lined cookie sheet; break up the pieces so they don’t clump. This process will take about 30 minutes.
4. Make the ganache: place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, whisk the cream and malt powder then bring to a simmer over low heat. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate, allow to stand for two minutes, then whisk until smooth.
5. Pour the ganache into your cooled tart shell, and press 1.5 cups of caramelized crispies and the crushed malt balls into the ganache. Pop into the fridge to cool and set while you make the malted cream.
6. Make the malted diplomat cream: place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. In
a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolk, cornstarch, and the malted milk powder until it becomes pale yellow, about one minute. Then, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk half the warm milk into the egg mixture, then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Whisk the saucepan constantly until the mixture thickens--it will seem like a thin pudding--about five minutes. Take the cream off the heat nd whisk in the butter and vanilla. Pour the pastry cream through the sieve to remove any milk solids. Stick a piece of plastic wrap right on top of the pastry cream, and chill for at least an hour.
7. Finish assembly: whisk the heavy cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Whisk the pastry cream to lighten it, then fold in the whipped cream. Top the tart with with diplomat cream, and let set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. When ready, garnish with leftover malt balls and caramelized crispies. Tart will keep for about three days in the fridge, covered, but is best on days one and two.
Make ahead: The crust, crispies, and diplomat cream can all be made ahead of time and put together a few hours before serving. Just remember that it’s best if the crust and ganache are given ample time to cool before you add the pastry cream.