Fanny was super keen on preserving things - before tins and jars of anything and everything were ready available, she'd be busy all year round collecting up whatever was in season and stuffing it away for another time. Whether it was fruit, vegetables, meat or even cream she'd describe ways to halt its decline, seal it securely and stash it safely. I think it was a habit she continued even after the supermarket shelves were packed tighter than one of her Kilner jars. She'd be horrified now that fruits and vegetables are flown in from far lands whatever the season. Do we even know what's 'in season' anymore? Everything is just 'there' when we want it. It was for resourceful Fanny too, but only because she (or more likely her army of assistants) made it so.
Fanny was always careful to stress in her recipes to use fresh when available, and canned, tinned or jarred when not. She assumed you had also been squirrelling away all your goodies. That way her knowledge could be shared all year round, and any time you dipped into one of her many books, if you found something you particularly fancied, you could have it. No need for daily flights full of food. Her very favourites were always things you could whip up at a moments notice to impress. And nothing more impressive than a fruity dessert in winter using last summers very best fruit.
While Fanny reaches to the backs of her larder cupboard for a jar of her very own peach halves to induce dinner party jealousy, I wander to Real Foods and pick up a jar of organic ones from Biona. Only the best will impress you see. Fanny whips up her favourite fruit, preserved in her favourite way with her favourite pastry (or paste) - the Choux. For Fanny, it's the most impressive, most versatile paste and she was on a mission to convert every housewife in Britain to use it.
For this dish, it's not Profiteroles or Eclairs, but mini tarts. Sorry, tartlets. Fanny of course despises the word tart in the kitchen or the bedroom. I've never used choux in this way before but it's whipped up in the usual way - melt some butter in water, fling flour in until it foams, beat and beat until smooth. Then leave to become very cold at room temperature (never a fridge) and beat an egg in. Normally it's piped into shapes, but Fanny uses it here to line well oiled tartlet moulds. She presses it in with two teaspoons, but I found fingers were best. Well scrubbed of course. They are then weighed down with oiled greaseproof paper squares and baking beans and popped into the oven.
When baked and cooled, Fanny fills them with custard. Sorry, I am taking a hopefully not too horrific shortcut here with Ambrosia, well it is all very last minute and is carefully preserved in the tub. She then carefully places on a peach half and covers with redcurrant jelly. I found some lovely looking (and veggie!) quick red jelly from Greens to use this time tough. It reminds me of the jelly you used to get on strawberry tarts when I was young. Tastes like it too. The tartlets are gorgeous, the choux makes them feel quite light (and deceptively chewy) and with a premature taste of summer with the peaches I am happy. After all that work to preserve the fruits so carefully, the finished tartlets really won't last too long with me!
I am entering these summery tartlets into a new blogging challenge from Jen's Food and United Cakedom celebrating all things pastry... Check out the other baked goodies!