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Friday, June 17, 2005

SHF #9: Jamaican choko tarts

After making my banana caramel macadamia tarts, I was still itchy to do some more baking. And besides, aren't tarts all about wanton excess?

I got the idea for these after flicking through my glittery copy of The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander, the foodie bible for every Australian homecook. Stephanie says her choko tart recipe was sourced from an old collection of Caribbean recipes, and when cooked, is indistinguishable from apple. Isn't that what they say all McDonalds apple turnovers are made from?

And what is a choko? Stephanie, oh culinary font of knowledge, says they belong to the cucurbit family which includes all gourds like pumpkin and zucchini. Backyards around Australia are filled with this ferocious growing vine, which is nigh impossible to get rid of once it takes hold. We used to get bagloads of chokos from our friendly neighbour. Now I have a new choko supplier, who can't seem to get rid of them fast enough, it would appear!

Known variously as a chayote, christophine, cho cho, mirliton and vegetable pear, you're either a choko lover or a choko hater. Personally I love 'em. Chopped and stirfried with vermicelli and soy sauce; microwaved and scooped out with a spoon, sure the taste is subtle, but they have a hint of delicate sweetness about them.

Peeling them, of course, is everyone's biggest bug bear. Leaving a lingering sticky green film on the fingers, the best way to avoid this is to peel them with a disposable glove on.

But enough of the small talk. Let's get onto the recipe. I borrowed inspiration from Stephanie's recipe, but hers is more like an apple pie, so I made some amendments to turn it into a tart. So here is my second entry for Sugar High Friday #9: Tarts.

Jamaican choko tarts

Line 12 small tart cases with shortcrust pastry and bake blind until golden brown.

Meanwhile peel 3 large chokos and boil in water with about 4 cloves until tender. Drain and cool before slicing to a medium thickness.

Layer the choko slices into the tart cases, sprinkling with brown sugar and lemon juice as you go. Put plenty of brown sugar on top.

Bake at 180C for about 10-20min or until golden brown on top. For extra caramelisation I then brushed them with honey and flash grilled them under a high heat.

I actually fooled everyone at work into thinking these were actually apple tarts. They certainly looked pretty enough and the caramelisation factor definitely helped the drool factor!

It's one more way to use up all those chokos which keep arriving on the doorstep anyway.

Now... choko mousse anyone?

Don't forget, you can check out Life in Flow for a round-up of all the Tantalising Titillating Tempting Tarts for this month's Sugar High Friday!

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Dinner with Stephanie Alexander, Oct 04
12 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 6/17/2005 11:59:00 pm


  • At 6/18/2005 1:40 am, Blogger Jennifer said…

    Not one but two gorgeously delicious tart recipes! Amazing...I don't know how you do it!

    Thanks so much for joining in on SHF!

  • At 6/18/2005 5:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow these tarts look and sound delish!

  • At 6/18/2005 4:16 pm, Blogger Reid said…

    Hi AG,

    This seems interesting. I've never had choko before, but you make me want to try it. As always, great pics! =)

  • At 6/18/2005 9:43 pm, Blogger Niki said…

    Wow! I've heard of choko cake, which I think is not so dissimilar to carrot cake - but choko pies? Cool!
    I'd never heard that about the McDonald's apple? pies. I used to love them as a kid...mmmm,deep fried goodness.

  • At 6/20/2005 9:16 am, Blogger eat stuff said…

    Nice tarts :)
    I have never had choko, I think my mum had a problem with them, lol.

  • At 6/20/2005 8:53 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Jennifer - It's called a sweet tooth which knows no bounds!

    Hi Gwenda - I'm sure my workmates have never been so excited about chokoes before!

    Hi Niki - Choko cake? Now that sounds interesting. It's like the recipes I've seen for zucchini cake and chocolate potato cake. They also sound so intriguing.

    And the McDonald's apple/choko pie has been a long time urban myth. Who knows? =)

    Yeah I used to love 'em too. Terribly greasy but great in winter.

    Hi Clare Eats - Thanks. Choko is great. Best way is to find a neighbour who is keen to get rid of them! =P

  • At 6/21/2005 2:44 pm, Blogger Reid said…

    Hi AG,

    Did you just pass me by? =(

  • At 6/21/2005 2:59 pm, Blogger pinkcocoa said…

    oh AG
    Today I was at the fruit market and saw choko for the first time and thought of you! Er, yes I never noticed this little green gem until your post.

  • At 6/21/2005 8:48 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Reid - OMG I'm sorry! It took me a while to work out what you meant by that comment and then it hit me... doh! I'm sorry. Let me try again...

  • At 6/21/2005 8:53 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Reid - Sorry for the delay. Held hostage by a rampant choko for a minute there... =P

    Thanks for the compliment on the pics. And I'm not sure about its availability in the States (or Hawaii) but do let me know if you try it. It's quite funny but an article in today's foodie newspaper liftout labels the choko as the most hated vegetable by chefs!

    I think it's just misunderstood. But then I also love Brussel sprouts too.

    Hi Pinkcocoa - LOL. How funny! They are a much maligned vegetable (did you read today's Good Living?!?) and I probably would never pay for one since I've always gotten them for free!

    I suggest trying them microwaved whole then cutting them and scooping it out with a spoon if you want a good idea of what it tastes like. It reminds me of Chinese melon, but much firmer.

  • At 3/31/2007 9:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    AG, Thought you might like to know that you're linked to from the ABC site.....


  • At 12/18/2011 5:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i have a choko vine that has taken over the garden , & have given alot away to neighbours but since reading your ideas on pies & tarts ,wow guess wat is for sweets tonight?
    also im cooking choko pickles next.yummmmmmmmmmmm,


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