These times are crazy. In these early days as I watch the news about Ukraine and try to understand how things may or may not resolve, it's easy to feel engulfed with confusion and heartbreak. I find myself diving deeper into baking as a means of solace - something that started as a means to cope during the pandemic. These Filipino cashew yema tarts are part of my earliest childhood memories, and this is one of those comfort foods that means a lot to me. I remember finishing a cashew boat tart and promptly diving back into the box of gifted sweets. These things are treats of escape in and of themselves. I hope you find them easy to make and even easier to enjoy. If you'd like to skip to the detailed instructions and tips, go here.
What is Yema?
Filipino yema is a soft, chewy, milky candy shaped like a pyramid and wrapped in colored cellophane. Its surface hardens just enough to give the candy some structure. But as soon as you bite into it, it melts in your mouth. If you enjoy a lot of textures in your food, this candy is for you!
The Origin of Yema
If you know the Spanish language very well, you already know that yema means egg yolk. Yema in the Philippines is a name, taken from Spanish influence, of sweet made with condensed milk and egg yolks.
These days yema doesn't even have to include egg yolks anymore. Over time, people became more enamored with the taste of condensed milk added to the candy recipe. To make Filipino yema, condensed milk, egg yolks, and cream or milk are boiled together for a long time until reaching a thickened consistency. Then the cooked liquid cools at room temperature to achieve its brittle solid surface. Other times, yema is baked after cooking to attain a more rigid and caramelized texture.
Versions of Yema
Yema has many uses in the Filipino sweet department. I've seen yema incorporated in frosting, cakes, cream puff fillings, and even pies. The recipe below celebrates yema filling in a tart.
Adding Nuts to These Tarts
I am so eager to share this recipe because of these tarts' versatility. Though I use a yema-based filling, I consider these solid cashew yema tarts. Yema in tart crusts are amazing on their own with their milky flavor and wonderful juxtaposition of textures. But when you add nuts or fruit such as dried mango, they get upgraded to another level!
I honestly don't remember when I started eating cashew yema tarts, just that I never really stopped eating them! These are some of the pastries that bring me back to my childhood. They give me a specific feeling of a place and time that I can't quite put my finger on. It's a profoundly nostalgic treat that I hope you enjoy as much as I do!
You will need some mini tart molds for this recipe. The most original style of a Filipino tart mold is an elongated oval and fluted mold that holds more per piece. I myself have round tart molds, which I used to make these cashew tarts. But you can use whatever type of molds you have. Heck, you can even just use one large mold to make a massive tart that you can later slice and serve.
How to Make Filipino Cashew Tart
This Filipino cashew yema tarts recipe calls for two main sections included in the procedure.
Make Tart Crust
The first step to making the tart is making pâte sucrée crust that you can easily press into the mold. Pâte sucrée is one of the most common French shortcrust pastries used in making sweet tarts with filling. We want a crumbly but structured crust that will compliment the layered textures of the yema filling.
Add chopped butter, flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor, then pulse until it looks sandy.
Add an egg yolk to the food processor and continue pulsing. Keep pulsing until the sandy texture comes together like cookie dough. As soon as you see this dough coming together, stop pulsing.
Place the dough on a plastic cling wrap or parchment paper like I did. If you are making these tarts on the same day, form a rectangle with the dough. Making a semi-flattened rectangle will help the dough cool and relax faster in the fridge. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for about an hour before using.
Mold Yema Tart Crusts
While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 175°C (180°F). Once chilled, you have some options for adding the dough to the mold.
Option 1 You split the dough into equal pieces and press them into each pan mold to shape the tart.
Option 2 Roll the dough to flatten until you have about a quarter-inch thickness and cut out pieces with the open end of your tart mold. Then, lay the dough piece into the tart mold. This option will work for you only if you have tapered molds, narrow at the bottom and wider at the opening.
Before putting these tart shells in the oven, make sure to dock them and poke many holes in each tart. The egg yolk in the dough will cause the tart shells to puff a lot during baking so you want to let as much air out as possible.
Put the Filipino yema tarts crusts in the preheated oven and blind bake them for around twenty minutes, or until they turn a light golden brown color.
Remove from the oven and let them cool completely.
Make Yema Tart Filling
In a saucepan on low heat, combine the condensed milk, heavy cream, lemon zest, chopped cashew nuts, and egg yolks.
Mix as it boils, making sure that the mixture doesn't burn. Keep mixing until it is thick. As soon as it starts to pull away from the pan, turn off the heat.
Remove from the heat and pour into a clean bowl to keep it from cooking further. When it's room temperature, set up a workspace for assembling the tarts.
Assembling Filipino Cashew Yema Tarts
Use a small teaspoon to spoon some filling into a cooled tart. Flatten the top of the filling with the back of the spoon or an offset spatula.
Let the tarts cool in the open air until the surface of the filling is no longer sticky.
Extra Baking Tip If you want a more caramelized color and harder texture, you can bake the tarts in the oven at 175°C (180°F) for no more than ten minutes. Remove from the oven to cool completely.
Traditionally, clear cellophane is used to wrap these tarts individually, but you can use parchment paper cut into appropriate sizes. The simple way to store these tarts is to put them in a big plastic container with a tight cover. You can keep these tarts at room temperature for up to a week, if they last that long!
Looking for something more challenging? Try making this mocha roll cake. It's worth the effort! Or if you prefer something much easier and quicker, try this coconut macaroon recipe.
Have You Tried This Recipe?
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Cashew Yema Tart
- 2 egg yolks
- 225 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 130 grams granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 320 grams all-purpose flour
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 can condensed milk (~400 grams)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ cup chopped cashews
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Make Tart Crust
- In food processor, add flour, sugar, salt, butter and pulse together until sandy
- Add in egg yolks and pulse until dough comes together, then stop
- Place clumpy dough on a cling wrap or parchment paper on a flat surface
- Flatten to a rectangle and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Take a piece of dough and press it in a nonstick tart mold to press around the tart tin until dough forms shape. Remove excess overhang
- Bake the tart crusts in preheated oven until lightly golden brown then remove from the oven to cool completely. Once cool, remove the shells from tart tins.
- In a saucepan on low medium heat, add condensed milk, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest and chopped nuts and stir until mix starts to bubble and simmer.
- Continue stirring as it boils to a thick paste and turn off the heat when the filling starts to pull away from the sides and resembles a loose bread dough.
- Pour out the filling in a clean bowl to stop the cooking process and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Fill the cooled tarts with the cooked yema using a small spoon and flatten the tarts with the back of your spoon or offset spatula. Optional: top with some chopped nuts
- Allow the tarts to cool until the surface is not longer sticky
- Optional: Bake in the oven at 150°C (300°F) for no more than ten minutes then remove from heat and let cool completely
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