Congress Tartlets are a favourite for afternoon teas served freshly baked and warm, but they can equally well be cooked as a full tart, to be served as a pudding with cream or ice cream. The taste of desiccated coconut, together with raspberry jam, will stir the memories of many. The name is thought to date from the seventeenth century when, at the end of the Thirty Years War, a Congress was held in Osnabruck, Germany. All those who attended were presented with a macaroon tart marked with a pastry cross. Some cooks still put a pastry cross on and if you have any spare pastry you may like to try it, but I prefer the filling heaped up high and beautifully browned on top. The amount given here is for eight 8 cm (3 1/4 in) tartlet tins or one shallow 23cm (9 in) tart tin.
225 g (8 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
225 g (8 oz) ground almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons ground rice or semolina
3 egg whites
60 g (2 1/4 oz) desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons good raspberry jam
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the tartlet tins. Chill them in the fridge while making the filling. Place a baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat.
3. Put the sugar, ground almonds, ground rice or semolina into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy but still runny then add the dry ingredients from the other bowl. Stir in all but a handful of the desiccated coconut, the almond essence and lemon zest.
4. Take the tartlet cases out of the fridge and spread raspberry jam over their bases. Spoon the almond and coconut mixture into the tins until they are almost full, then sprinkle each with a little of the remaining coconut. Place the tarts on the hot baking sheet in the oven.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the fillings are risen and golden brown. Allow to cool.
6. Serve warm with cream or cold with a pot of hot tea.
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