a peanut butter milk tart that came to dinner

There are a few questions that when asked can make one deliriously happy.

“Will you bring dessert?” is one of them.

And if you’re anything like some of us over here, it is just one of those questions that grabs a handful of ants and shoves them into your pants.

Questions like these either send you running for the cookbooks or groping for your laptops. And I’m more than happy to oblige. They make you feel like life is going to be just great.

The weekend before last when I was dreaming of lemon tarts, my father’s friend, whose name could twist your tongue easily and hence will be known as Uncle D, expressed his excitement that I was going to be in Kolkata for our Bengali New Year’s celebrations. Yes, we Bengalis have our own Calendar. And yes, we celebrate our own New Year’s. With new clothes (!) and believe it or not, more food.

Now, by every standard in the book, Uncle D is an accomplished home cook, a lawyer, an aspiring guitarist, an expert celebrity impersonator and an incomparable biryani maker. He is another one of those people who make my parents’ social circle ten times cooler than mine. And for him to ask me to bring dessert is nothing short of flattery really. He told me he’d made up his mind while digging into Meghna’s birthday cake and decided that a two-week notice for the New Year’s dessert was only fitting. I have a big grin on my face as I’m typing this. That’s how much I love taking dessert along with me for a party.

As a general rule, parties involving hardcore Bengalis always involve Indian sweets or ice-cream rather than full-on desserts. Cakes are called upon for birthdays and anniversaries. Tarts and puddings are not even considered. So naturally, I started off by holding an audition for cakes. Always a good place to begin.

First came the coffee cake that had made everyone coo. Then came thoughts of berry-infused cakes and upside-downs. Wizenberg’s banana bread looked promising for sometime. Under the pressure of all my kind-heartedness [and a secret desire to make boiled pastry again] I decided to give tarts and pies a chance too. A chocolate ganache tart popped into mind. It seemed like a safe bet. Gordon Ramsay’s Chef’s Secrets lay on my table offering up a suh-weeet looking orange and passion fruit something-something. I even resorted to my well-practised hobby — returning to the refrigerator at regular intervals, opening its door and staring into it, hoping that some interesting fruit or flavour would materialize out of sub-zero air. And it did. After about three or four failed attempts. Peanut butter.

Technically this is a tart with peanut butter in it. Even more technically, it’s a PB & J tart. PB & J is a reasonable sell as far as the best of us go, but I’m afraid that it might not sound as intriguing as it tastes. So let’s just be fancy and call this a Peanut Butter Milk Tart with a Blueberry Preserve Glaze. Oooooh.

It’s not your normal heat-peanut-butter-and-spread-it-onto-a pastry-base kind of simpleton. I wouldn’t do that to you. Instead, it starts with a peanut butter custard, made out of a hot milk-PB mixture that’s whisked into eggs and baked till set. Slap on a thin layer of your favourite jam, blueberry in this case, and huzzah!

But apart from normal tart behaviour, this one also teaches you something – hot peanut butter and milk do not taste good. And I don’t know about you, but in my world, that is a life lesson I learnt the hard way.

Peanut Butter Milk Tart with Blueberry Jam Glaze

I forked into the tart before it had a chance to cool completely and was immediately hit by disappointment. It was warm, of course, and tasteless. I could taste the peanut as if it were a ghost of itself. Faint and almost non-existent. I smeared a bit of jam on and took a second bite. It tasted only marginally better. Faced with such heartbreak and the need to hatch an emergency plan, I shoved the tart back into its tin and into the refrigerator and shuffled off to relieve my cranky mood. A couple of hours later I returned to the tart trying to think of a way to salvage it, which I was half-hearted about. But I was in for a surprise. The filling had set beautifully. It melted on my mouth like butter and delivered a well-placed punch of peanuttiness! All it had needed was some chill time.

Peanut Butter Milk Tart with Jam Glaze

Peanut Butter Milk Tart with Jam Glaze

This tart definitely definitely needs at least an hour of chill time in the refrigerator. Try to keep yourself away from digging in while the tart is warm.

For the tart crust I used this.

For the filling and glaze:
3/4 cup of smooth Peanut Butter
1 cup of whole milk
1 tbsp of granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of your favourite jam  or preserve [I used a Bonne Maman blueberry]

Pre-bake the tart crust and let it cool.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Keep aside. Heat peanut butter, milk and sugar in a saucepan till the peanut butter has melted and combined well with the milk and the mixture starts to bubble up. If it looks grainy, don’t worry, it’ll come together when mixed with the eggs. Remove from heat and whisk the mixture into the eggs. Whisk continuously so the eggs don’t scramble. Let the mixture cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. Pour the PB-milk mixture into the tart crust. Make sure to pop any bubbles that might appear on the surface. Bake for 15 minutes or till the filling is set. The centre won’t be too soft to the touch and the edges will have puffed up very slightly. Cool the tart completely in its tin.
Warm the jam/preserve slightly and spread over the filling.

Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or ideally 2 hours before serving.



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Thirty-four, recovering chocoholic, serial traveler, bookworm, pencil-addict, dance fiend, architect, born eater, allergic to rules, always at the wrong end of things, Doesn't really give a damn...

16 thoughts on “a peanut butter milk tart that came to dinner”

  1. so this is for sure what you’ll be bringing to dinner?
    i’ve made peanut butter pie (pies & tarts are close enough, right?) but always paired it with chocolate… never even thought to add fruit, even tho it’s quite the most natural thing to add…

  2. I love your name for it – it sets it apart, which clearly it deserves. I think this looks absolutely delicious. I’ve never eaten PB and J together!

  3. Patricia: Or hot coffee. But I think cold milk would be better in the heat.

    Hannah: Yay! I hope you try it sometime! And when you do lemme know.

    Lan: You betcha. I think this tart warrants an invitation easily. And next time I make this I’m pouring some chocolate to finish it.

    Frugal: Cheers to fancy names! And try a PB&J sandwich tonight and lemme know if you like it.

    Barbara: Right? That was curious! I wonder why though…the hot mixture tasted nothing like the cooled tart.

  4. Ohmigosh – this is one of the better ideas I have seen. I absolutely cannot wait to make this – you are brillant!

  5. Well now, love your writing (too)! I applaud you…I wouldn’t have had the guts to do the PBJ tart in the first place, let alone wait the few hours to see how it turned out. Too many times I have baked the second dessert before the previous perceived flop had even cooled. Yeah for success!

  6. There’s nothing sweeter to my ears than someone tasking me with Dessert duty for get-togethers. I’m reduced to a 5 year old kid who’s just been given a huge bowl of ice cream. Your thought processes in putting this tart together need a big pat on the back! PB&J are an eternally awesome couple, so it only makes sense to slather them onto/in whatever you’re trying to make 😀

  7. Liz, Jodi, Megan: It’s something isn’t it?! And thanks!

    Amanda: Me too! Waiting patiently for a dessert to cool is not really one of my virtues either. I would have dumped this tart in the first place if it hadn’t hidden in the fridge out of sight.

    Amrita: Ooh, I love typing your name! 🙂 How cool is the term “dessert duty”…it sounds like a war dispatch call hearing which we boot up military-style with our whisks and measuring cups and cake tins, ready for battle! I’m so using that in my dessert-oriented conversations from now!

  8. Oh, wow. I’m seriously speechless other than, oh wow. That looks too good. I’m pretty sure if this was in my kitchen I would be sitting down and eating that thing whole. I wouldn’t even slice it, I would just take a fork and go to town. Delish!

  9. Looks AMAZING! This is actually the perfect thing to make as a “welcome home” treat from my best friend – he’s been living in China and I’ve sorely missed our gossip sessions over PB and J. Gorgeous photos and fantastic recipe 🙂

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