But I thought it would be nicer if I had a company. Someone to chat with. Maybe someone like me would be good. I’m a top cat. I’m fun and chatty and the most popular cat in the neighbourhood, not to mention I’m a brilliant baker (I think modesty is overrated). It would be great to have another me - a twin!
Then I heard knock on my door.
Sadly, not another me. Instead, two little wrinkly pugs – one black and one white - were sitting at my door step. They’re well known in the neighbourhood as The Pugsy Twins: Bee Bee (the black one) and Wiwi (the white one). They’re famous for the fierce rivalry between them.
‘Good morning, Clementine,’ they said. Then they scrambled into the door, trying to pass through before each other.
‘Move your big bum, Wiwi!’ growled Bee Bee.
‘Get off me, you fatty!’ barked Wiwi.
‘We need your opinion, Clementine,’ they said when they finally got though the door. ‘Which one of us do you think is cuter?’
I didn’t know what to say because they were twins so both of them had exact same funny little faces. But I realised that they were not joking, so I said, ‘Umm I don’t know. Both of you look very much alike so it’s hard to say…’
‘Look alike!? Me and him?’ Bee Bee gasped. ‘No way! Look at his ugly wrinkly face! I’m nothing like him!’
Wiwi was quick to respond. ‘Look at his horrible sagging face!’ Wiwi continued. ‘You know what? Unlike your creepy goggle eyes, my adorably big eyes can hypnotise practically everyone.’
‘Your eyes are way too apart! Along with your funny flat nose, you can fool no one! Look at me. Everyone thinks I’ve the face of an angel.’
‘You look as if someone has hit you in the face with a frying pan. People feel sorry for you!’
‘You’ve got a tail like a pig!’
‘Your tail is curled like a hog’s’
Then they continued yapping at each other. Oh my codencroute, it began to give me a headache.
‘OK, stop! Stop, both of you!’ I meowed. ‘I’ve got an idea. I just baked a big batch of chocolate tarts. If you think you’re cuter than the other, let’s see which one of you can sell more tarts with your charm.’
There was a weekend farmers’ market happening in my neighbourhood. We set up two stalls there, and I gave 50 Dark Chocolate Custard Tarts with Pears to Bee Bee and 50 White Chocolate Custard Tarts with Raspberries to Wiwi. So the tarts selling race began.
Bee Bee melted customers’ heart with his innocent round eyes. He said to them, ‘Ladies and gentlemen! Would you like crispy tarts with custard made with dark chocolate? Bitter dark chocolate compliments the sweet custard. On top are sweet and juicy pears. I assure you these are the best chocolate tarts in the town!’
Wiwi caught customers’ attention with his hypnotic big eyes. He said, ‘Hi, there! Fancy crusty tarts with custard mixed with white chocolate? Milky white chocolate enhances the creamy custard. These come with sharp fresh raspberries on top. I’m proud to say this is the best chocolate tarts ever!’
Bee Bee’s tarts were sold like hot cakes. Wiwi’s tarts were also sold like equally as hot cakes. Both came down to the last one tart each.
‘Would you like this delicious dark chocolate tart?’ shouted Bee Bee.
‘Fancy this delightful white chocolate tart, anyone?’ called out Wiwi.
Then they looked at each others tarts.
‘Actually your tart sounds nice,’ said Bee Bee with his mouth dribbling.
‘Your tart seems tasty, too,’ said Wiwi, licking his mouth.
‘Why don’t you two share?’ I said.
They looked at each other. They thought for a moment, then devoured both tarts. ‘Both tarts are equally delicious!’ they woofed with satisfaction.
Then Bee Bee said to Wiwi, ‘I just noticed your tail is so cute when wiggles.’
‘Oh, I think your tail is very cute when waggles,’ said Wiwi in return.
I grinned to myself, seeing them finally getting on. The tart race was a clever idea. I was such a genius, I thought. Then…
‘No. Your tail is cuter,’ said Bee Bee.
‘You’re wrong! Your tail is cuter,’ said Wiwi.
‘Why are you so stubborn as a mule, Wiwi!?’
‘You’re the pig-headed one, Bee Bee!!’
Then they started yapping at each other again. I had a second thought on having a twin. I thought my tea time would be totally fine without another me.
Here is the recipe for my Chocolate Custard Tarts. Use dark chocolate and tinned pears if you fancy bitter dark chocolate tarts. If you would like to have milky white chocolate version, use white chocolate and fresh raspberries. It’s a tough choice, isn’t it? Why don’t you double up the quantity and make both? If you feel like a lazy cat, cheat with ready-made sweet pastry cases.
DARK & WHITE CHOCOLATE CUSTARD TARTS
Makes 8 small tarts
(FOR THE PASTRY)
110g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
80g caster sugar
225g plain flour
1 large egg, beaten
(FOR THE FILLING)
2 egg yolks
142ml double cream
100g dark chocolate, broken up OR 100g white chocolate
25g caster sugar
½ tbsp cornflour
2 pear halves from tin OR 16 fresh raspberries
- For the sweet pastry, lightly grease and flour 8 x 10cm/4in loose bottomed tart tins.
- Place the flour and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter into the flour and rub in the mixture until it resembles crumbs. Add the eggs and mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Lightly flour a work surface, tip the pastry ball out onto it, and knead until you have a smooth soft dough. Shape the pastry into a square, to make it easier to roll out. Place the dough the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the pastry 5mm thick and line the tins, gently pressing it down into the base and sides of each tin. Using a sharp knife, cut away any excess pastry in a neat line with the edge of each tin and prick the base of the pastry a few times. Then place some greaseproof paper over the top and fill with baking beans. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5.*
- Once chilled, place the pastry tart cases on a baking tray and cook for 15 minutes, or until completely cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes and lift out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the filling, microwave the milk, double cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl for about 1 minutes. Stirring until the chocolate melts and all become smooth.
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a separate bowl, then pour into the melted chocolate, stirring well. Strain the mixture into a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat. Use a balloon whisk to stir constantly until thicken. Remove from the heat and cool down. Once cooled down, keep refrigerated.
- Just before serving, spoon the custard into the pastry tartlets and top with the pears or raspberries.
*Every ovens are different. Know your oven and adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.