My lovelies, I’ve got something revelatory for you!
You may be shrugging your shoulders, or, if you’re feeling a little bit cantankerous, rolling your eyes. Chili honey? What’s so great about that?
Everything. It’s magical.
You take some liquid gold, pour it into your witches pot (ahem, saucepan…) and chop in a chili. “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble” for a few minutes and there you have it. A viscous, viscous, complex, fiery nectar that is just plain special.
Eat it off of a spoon, lick it off your fingers, lick it off of someone else’s fingers… or eat it on this tart.
Squash, Sage and Chili Honey Tart
(recipe originally from Bon Appetit, adapted for me and my kitchen)
salt and pepper
1 sheet of puff pastry
1/4 Cup honey
1 bird chili
2 Tbsp olive oil
a handful of fresh sage leaves (12-15)
parmesan, for shaving
- Remove the stem from the squash. From the stem end, take off 8-10 slices of squash, 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thick. I found it easier to cut off a chunk of the squash, half it lengthwise, and then slice half moons from there. The flat surface makes the slicing a lot easier. Peel the squash only if you mind the skin, it is perfectly edible left on.
- Arrange the slices of squash in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkling with salt and pepper before popping them into a 375° F oven for 15 minutes to roast.
- While the squash is cooking, roll out your puff pastry. It should be around a square foot in area, but by no means does it need to be square.
- Once the squash is done it’s initial bake, arrange the slices on the pastry in a single layer, overlapping if needed. Give the pieces a gentle press onto the pastry as you place them so that any moisture on the surface of the squash sticks it to the pastry.
- Return the assembly to the oven, baking until the pastry goes golden and the squash starts to crisp (25-30 minutes).
- While the tart bakes, thinly slice the chili (use a Thai chili or any other small chili if you cannot get ahold of a bird chili). Stir together the chili and the honey in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Boil, watching so it doesn’t overflow, for 5 minutes before removing it from heat and letting it cool off.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet set over high heat. Once it starts to get good and shimmery, add the fresh sage leaves and let them sizzle for about thirty seconds. They will go from soft green and velvety like a lambs ear, to emerald and brittle quite quickly, so don’t walk away from them. When they are done, transfer to a paper towel that will wick away the excess oil.
- Once the tart has finished baking, remove it from the oven. Immediately shave the Parmesan over top so that it will wilt from the heat of the tart. Strew the sizzled sage leaves over the surface, and then drizzle with the chili honey.
- Slice into rectangles, or triangles, and serve.
The first time I made this tart, as a contribution to the tea party edition of Wednesday lunch, I went light on the honey, thinking it would make the tart too sweet. Not true. When I made another one, I must admit it was the following day, I used more of the honey. And to quote Mr. “The honey is the best part.” What little get left behind was added greedily as we ate our slices. Seriously, chili infused honey is magic.
Squash and sage are already good friends, so it is immediately apparent upon meeting this tart that it is going to be good. Their textures foil each other really well here too, the squash squidgy to the tooth and the sage cracklingly crisp. In the original recipe, the squash is called to be sliced much thinner, and although it still is flavorfully present sliced more thinly, the texture is more favorable with a thicker slice. Plus, an all butter puff pastry is fabulous to have come across your plate in almost any iteration. (Remember your promise? I don’t expect you to go through the ordeal of making your own puff pastry, but please read the ingredients before you purchase. No mystery fats!) The parmesan cheese adds the balancing salt component. But the real star of this show is the honey, in case you hadn’t picked up that message after all of my repeating myself.
But seriously, it is magical.
This tart is sure to be brought along to many a gathering.
This time last year: Drunken Cherries
And the year before: Plums Under Meringue
And the year before that: Tuna Onigiri