It started a couple of months ago, on a miserable, awful Friday, when work had been downright depressing all week and I wanted nothing more than something completely indulgent to take home and gorge on while watching Friday night telly. I wandered into Moore Wilson Fresh - if it's decadence you're seeking you can find pretty much every edible type there - and stood lustily in front of the cake cabinet. Agony! You see, there are so many glorious-looking cakes, pastries, and chocolates that choosing is a bit of a nightmare. But I spied Floradita's chocolate tamarillo tart, and knew I couldn't go past it - rich chocolate topped with candied tamarillos!
I asked the young man behind the counter for it, and a lady behind me said "Oooh, is that good? I was thinking of getting that." I told her I didn't know but could vouch for the general standard of Flo's baked goods so had every faith in it. A third customer joined us, and as it transpired he also was seeking the tamarillo chocolate joy. And so it was that three strangers united in our purchasing of chocolate tarts.
Fast forward to mid-July and the tart is long gone (though fond memories remain) and I'm wandering the farmers market of a Sunday morning, when a bin full of plump tamarillos catch my eye. I have a very chocolatey kitchen adventure already on my weekend agenda and candying tamarillos to go on top seems like the right thing to do.
I tried three methods - two stove-top and one in the oven - and though stove-top definitely wins (the oven method not only dried out the fruit too much but also resulted in the apartment being temporarily filled with acrid smoke - oops!) the jury's out on which is better. This will depend on how you want your tamarillo slices to come out.
First, a disclaimer: this is not a highly refined technique (and my tamarillos weren't as good as the originals, but still a tasty and pretty addition to my dessert).
Method 1: Soft, slightly chewy slices
Mix together sugar and just enough water to make it the consistency of wet sand (I used 1 cup of sugar, about 3-4 Tbsp water) in a saucepan over medium heat. Slice the tamarillos, put them into starting-to-melt-sugar (I used the wooden spoon to push them under a bit). Leave to bubble for 10-15 minutes, until sugar starts to turn - you can tell as it begins to smell bitter and the colour changes from purple toa sort of browny colour.
Carefully lift the tamarillo slices out onto greaseproof paper or a silicon sheet (so they stop cooking) and leave to cool.
Method 2: Chewy, taffy-like tamarillo
Mix together sugar and water to make a paste - about 1 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then add tamarillo. Cook as before, until syrup begins to smell bitter, then lift out tamarillo slices.
Adding more water means (I think) that the mixture can boil for longer before the sugar turns, which makes the result chewier. The first method is probably a more sensible dessert topping but I quite like the chewy ones!
Sadly they're not terribly pretty (though I do love the purple colour - I actually once tried to dye fabric using tamarillos! Sadly it didn't really take) but here's a sneak peak of the finished product in situ. The chocolate recipe will follow in a day or two. ;-)