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Velvety, Sweet Pastry Cream is the Star of this Tart

Enjoy the fruits of spring with a generous dose of pastry cream and almond shortbread crust.

A Rich Tart that Holds Nothing Back

A Rich Tart that Holds Nothing Back

I should probably start off by saying that my husband and I ate this tart for dinner. Normally, he's the one coaxing me into another bite of salad because he knows that otherwise I'd be perfectly content to exist solely on M&Ms, yogurt, rotisserie chicken from the supermarket, and Excedrin. He's the voice of reason. He's the one who makes sure our refrigerator is always stocked with endives. He's the one who thinks a peeled apple is the only dessert you need. 

He's the one who took one look at this tart and said—with an unprecedented amount of glee—"Well, I guess dinner's sorted!" 

I was all too happy to indulge. 

Growing up, my mother had her own cake business. From a young age, I went with her to the cake supply stores and would marvel at the tubes of Bavarian cream, raspberry filling, and the like. Years later, when I began my own culinary adventures, French pastry cream captivated me. I loved watching the way the simple ingredients thickened into a sweet, silky cream. I'd watch on the edge of my seat as contestants on The Great British Baking Show attempted making their own.

Pastry cream holds such an allure because of its sweet, custardy taste that pairs so well with a variety of desserts. It can also be used as a base for many different flavors like white chocolate, pistachio, and more. The simplest versions are flavored only with vanilla. 

Now that I've made it quite a few times, when I was formulating this tart, there was only ever one filling I could imagine for the almond shortbread crust—pastry cream. This fruit tart mixes textures and complementary flavors to create a dessert that's rich and luxurious, yet never overwhelming. The key is to make sure that the tart shell is cooked enough that it remains crisp even when filled and refrigerated. 

Feel free to use whatever berries look best to you at the market—strawberries would be a fine choice. Candied mint would also add a delicious touch.

The decoration of the tart might seem daunting once you see the surface area, but slow and steady wins the race. Once you see the finished product, I think you'll absolutely agree that it's worth it. I'd also recommend using larger berries on the outer circles and then moving on to the smaller ones as you work your way in. Not only does it look better visually, but it will also make it easier to slice. 

Ingredients

Ingredients

This fruit tart may seem daunting, but with enough patience, victory will be yours. Enjoy the fruits of spring with a generous dose of pastry cream and almond shortbread crust.


Prep time: 2 1/2 hours

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

Total time: 2 hours 50 minutes

Makes one 10-inch tart

Ingredients:

Pastry Cream:

  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp butter (room temp)

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • Assorted berries (2 cups total)

Glaze:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam (optional)

Notes:

  • If you decide to use delicate berries like raspberries, brush the sugar syrup on with a pastry brush.
  • To achieve the golden flecks that our tart has, use raw cane sugar rather than white sugar for the glaze. 
Instructions

Instructions

Pastry Cream

1. In a medium sized pot, scald the milk, cream and vanilla.

2. In a bowl, whip eggs, sugar, and flour until it's the color of butter.

3. Pour about 1/3 of the milk/cream into the egg mix, stirring constantly to keep it from curdling.

4. Pour the mix back into the pot and heat it over low medium heat until it thickens—the mix should coat the back of the spoon.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

6. Transfer to a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. TIP: place plastic wrap directly on the cream to keep a skin from forming.

7. Place it in the refrigerator for at least  1 hour.

Crust

1. In a bowl, combine almond meal, flour, butter, brown sugar, salt and lemon zest with your fingers.

2. Continue blending until the mix looks like pebbles and forms a ball.

3. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper until about 1/2 in thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and transfer dough to your pie dish.

4. Push down corners and cut off excess dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke center of dough with a fork in several places and place pie weights in the center.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes, remove weights, then bake for another 5-8 minutes.

7. Let cool completely, then spoon pastry cream into center, filling the shell and smoothing the top.

8. Place the tart back in refrigerator while you prepare the glaze.

Instructions

Instructions

Glaze and Assembly

1. Heat sugar and water in a pot over high heat. Do not stir.

2. When the sugar thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, take it off the heat and stir in the jam.

3. Using a toothpick, swirl the fruit into the sugar syrup and place on a wax paper-covered sheet pan.

4. Take the tart out of the fridge and decorate the top with the fruit, covering it completely.

5. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator.



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Chef Tips and Tricks

VIDEO: Rustic Cherry Tart

Craving sweet? This rustic cherry tart is easy, quick and delicious!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shortcrust pastry
  • 3 cups / 750 g. of cherries
  • 1/3 cup / 60 g. of sugar
  • 2/3 cup / 60 g. of almond flour
  • 4 tbsp. of brown sugar
  • Pistachios
  • A dash of milk

METHOD: 

  1. Mix the cherries and sugar together. Let stand 20 minutes.
  2. Spread or roll out the shortcrust pastry, sprinkle with almond powder and brown sugar.
  3. Place the cherries in the center of the dough, leaving about 2 inches of free dough on the edges. Fold in the edges.
  4. Brush with milk (this will make the crust go golden), sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F/180°C.
  5. Top with a handful of chopped pistachios, and serve!

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