I found Cape Gooseberries at the SOWA Open Market in South Boston this past weekend. The woman who sold them to me actually called them ground cherries, but upon trying to facts about them using that name proved rather troublesome. To a person who thrives on trying new things and picking up ingredients that are less commercial, Cape Gooseberries seemed like the perfect kitchen companion for a long holiday weekend.
In order to find the origins of such a special little fruit, I started off by calling them tomatillo relatives. When you compare them to a tomatillo, you’ll see the uncanny differences. Eventually that led me to their real name, physalis peruviana. Physalis peruviana is the plant and its fruit, also known as Cape gooseberry (South Africa), Inca berry, Aztec berry, Golden berry, Giant ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry (U.S.), Pok pok (Madagascar), Poha (Hawaii), Ras bhari (India), Aguaymanto (Peru), Uvilla (Ecuador), Uchuva (Colombia) and (rarely) Physalis. Yet even when you use the US name of Peruvian cherry, there still isn’t a whole lot of information on them which made sense when I found out where they were grown.
Typically found in Peru, Ecuador and Columbia where the plants grow wild, the Cape Gooseberry is now more predominately found in New Zealand, Australia, China and Africa. Behind a papery covering similar to a Chinese lantern, therein hides a smooth berry resembling a small yellow tomato the size of a marble. Similar to a tomato, it has a number of small seeds with flesh bright yellow to orange in color. Ideally I found it to be used in sweeter recipes from jams to pies, yet the woman at the market told me to use them raw in salads.
I combined some of my favorite recipes to make this tart and it turned out better than expected. Due to a big move I’m making, I didn’t have any of my tart pans on hand, but a springform pan worked well in this instance!
Pastry Crust Recipe:
2 cups of King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend
1/2 teaspoon of Salt
3/4 cup of cold unsalted Butter
1 large Egg Yolk
2-3 tablespoons of ice Water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a tart or springform pan to allow easy release of your finished tart.
In a food processor, combine Pastry Blend with Salt and Butter, pulse until combined. Add the Egg Yolk and pulse until incorporated. Add one tablespoon of water at a time until the dough comes together in large chunks, but is not sticky to the touch. Remove dough and press into pan so it goes up about an inch on the sides.
Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to go partway up the sides of the crust, this will be used for easy release of your pie weights or dried beans. Next, take your pie weights or dried beans and lay them out on parchment paper. Bake until golden for about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool and remove parchment paper with pie weights/dried beans.
Frangipane (Almond Cream):
1/4 cup of Sugar
2 tablespoons of unsalted Butter, softened
1 large Egg
1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla
1/2 cup of Almond Flour
1 tablespoon of All Purpose Flour
There are two ways to make Frangipane, one is to just mix everything together in a bowl. Or, you can do it like I did because at the time I didn’t have Almond Flour, but just blanched slivered almonds.
Using a food processor, combine blanched slivered Almonds and Sugar, pulse till Almonds are finely ground. Next, add the remaining ingredients and pulse till fully combined. In your baked crust, smooth out the Frangipane.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out your Cape Gooseberries with even spacing, or make a fun design. You can also substitute nectaries or cherries in this recipe for the Gooseberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top of Frangipane is lightly golden in color.
Allow to cool and enjoy!