By Dennis Linden
While Goldenberries are available year-around, the kick-off of the summer fruit season seemed the most appropriate month to share this delicious tart recipe submitted by Franck Labbe of Melissa’s Business Development Team. Goldenberries, also marketed as Cape Gooseberries, and actually a member of the tomato family, is a bright butter-yellow, slightly smaller cousin of the green tomatillo. A native wild crop of ancient Peru that is now grown commercially in several tropical and subtropical regions globally, the sweet-tart fruit has become a favorite baking ingredient in pastries and pies; Goldenberries can also add color and a hint of unique exotic flavoring to fresh salads or just be eaten out of hand as a deliciously addicting, low-sugar snack fruit!
Nutritionally, Goldenberries do contain low levels of calories and a moderate of amount most vitamins and minerals. However the most important health benefit of this fruit is the berry’s extremely high antioxidant content. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are the damaging byproducts of cellular metabolism that causes healthy cells to mutate into cancerous ones. This attribute has elevated Goldenberries to “superfood” status amongst health-minded foodies. It’s really a perfect formula -- a very tasty fruit that helps to prevent certain chronic diseases and types of cancers!
What elevates Franck’s tart to super deliciousness is his thoughtful way of presenting this somewhat unfamiliar berry fruit to most consumers by pairing it with an equally flavorful co-star – a decadent, rum-laced, almond cream! In fact, this dish was developed “in the line of duty” so to speak.
“This recipe came about while tinkering around in my home kitchen,” Franck explained. “We had received a shipment of Goldenberries from a new vendor, so I took some home to try baking with them. This is the part of quality control I really enjoy! Anyway, I came up with the idea of an almond cream component to support and contrast with the natural acidity of the fruit. I think it works!”
Whenever a baked dessert recipe is submitted for this feature, I have to admit that this mostly savory dish kind of guy’s heart skips a culinary beat. The dessert round, even on TOP CHEF or CHOPPED reality TV shows, has been the defeating nemesis for many a talented chef who neglected to spend much time working the pâtissier station! I too have never been comfortable with the dessert round in my own kitchen. For me, baking requires a kind of culinary preciseness that I find difficult to stick to during prep. So I took a deep breath before starting Franck’s recipe, vowing to be as exact as a lab assistant in following Franck’s measurements and instructions to the letter. Overcoming the natural tendency to “wander” away from a recipe with my own tweaks is always the most difficult part for me. As it turned out, Franck’s procedure was easy to follow and a snap to construct. When the flour settled, I actually had baked something that looked presentable and tasted even better. Plus I am now a Goldenberry fan forever!
Franck Labbe has been a member of the Melissa’s team for seventeen years. His daily responsibilities include roles in several facets of both the company’s procurement and distribution operations.
“I manage a lot of European imports, like the steamed line products from France and Italy, the Hollandaise sauce and our Italian Pine Nuts to name a few,” said Franck, adding. “I am also involved in product development, which can range from creating a new item in order to capitalize on a market trend or duplicating an idea initiated elsewhere in the marketplace or maybe finding a manufacturing solution for an existing product. On the distribution side, I also work closely with one of our major club store accounts in developing club-sized packs for their fresh produce program.”
Franck’s tart recipe / QC test makes great use of his professional culinary background. Born and raised in Paris, as a young man he began his career as a hotel pastry chef taking positions in Hawaii and then Los Angeles before joining the Melissa’s staff. That confirms my own belief that savory cooking can be taught, but one must be born to the art of baking! Outside of the office, Franck’s first passion is the care and feeding of his four Italian motorcycles. Coming in a very close second is his practice of Krav Maga, an Israeli self-defense martial arts system, which he has been honing weekly for some twenty years. So I guess one could say that this month’s featured recipe is a delicious dish created by a high-kicking, wheel-spinning, tart-making pastry chef! Thanks Franck, we all look forward to the recipe results of your next QC test!
Makes one 10-inch tart, serves 6-8
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
4 oz. Butter
1 Pinch Salt
2 TBS Water
Soften butter to room temperature. Mix all ingredients just enough to obtain a smooth dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out dough, then trim to fit a 10" tart pan about ¼” thick, refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden.
7 oz. Almond Paste
4 oz. Butter
3½ TBS Flour
2 TBS Rum
Soften butter to room temperature and blend with almond paste until smooth in a food processor or blender, then add the eggs one at a time – blending in each until smooth and fluffy. Gently mix in the flour and lastly add the rum.
Final Tart Assembly:
1 lb. Goldenberries, peeled, rinsed and patted dry
1 Dough in tart pan, chilled
Powder Sugar (for garnish)
Spread Almond Cream evenly over the pastry dough, about ½” thick. Cover the almond cream with a layer of Goldenberries. Bake @ 400° F for 45-50 minutes until crust and almond cream turn golden. Cool on a rack, then carefully transfer tart from mold to a serving platter, sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve and enjoy.