It was in Syria that I first experienced the romantic pleasure of eating rose petals, which have a tantalising texture and a subtle flavour that is not simply scented. I still buy rose petal jam whenever I can - it is particularly good stirred into yogurt. The filling for the tart is rather like a very light rose-flavoured cheesecake, with delicately crisp petals on top. It is a lovely party piece and a good talking point.
Crystallise the rose petals in advance - a day or two if you like. Whisk the egg white in a bowl until stiff. Put some caster sugar into another bowl. Lay a piece of non-stick baking parchment on a large baking sheet and turn on the oven to its lowest setting. Dip each rose petal first into the egg white and then into the caster sugar, laying them on the baking sheet as you do so. Place on the lowest shelf of the oven for 1-1½ hours or until the petals are dry and crisp. Ease each one off the parchment very carefully with your thinnest spatula; some will probably crumble but can still be used. Keep the crystallised petals in an airtight container until ready to use.
Make the pastry following the method. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for about an hour before using.
To make the tart,
For the filling, in a large bowl, whip the cream until it is thick but not stiff. Whisk in the egg yolk, sugar and yogurt thoroughly. Gradually whisk in the rose water and then stir in the fresh rose petals. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and
Remove from the oven and leave until cool, then carefully push up the base to lift the tart from the tin. Using a spatula, gently ease the tart onto a serving plate, or you can keep it on the tin base if you feel it is too fragile to transfer. Chill in the fridge to set the filling further.
About an hour before serving, take the tart out of the fridge. At the last moment, sprinkle the top all over with crystallised rose petals. Use a very sharp knife to slice the tart - the filling will still ooze a bit, deliciously.
© 2010 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.