Sunday, April 26, 2009

Simple Strawberry Tart


As you can see, I spent the weekend tarting. These are pictures of the same tart, pre- and post-glaze. I was excited to break in my tart pan, especially for a fruit tart. I love sweetness, and I love summer fruits. They're great stand-alone, but they're awesome in desserts. The great thing about summer desserts is that they're fun, festive, and often fruit-centered. The bad thing about summer desserts is that they're often fruit-centric, but covered with some whipped topping and really aren't good for you, even with the inclusion of fruit. This, my friends, knocks those dirty whipped-topping desserts to the ground. AND it swipes their lunch money in the process.

For my first foray into tarting, I wanted to choose something fruity and easy, and something I would eat. When I saw this recipe for a strawberry tart, I fell in love. What could be easier? While this recipe isn't the fastest tart recipe (it definitely requires a few hours in between steps, and there's plenty of chilling involved) it's actually quite simple and I firmly believe anyone can do it. Hell, if I can master a dessert on the first try, it's GOT to be simple. Bakerella I'm not. However, you can do this in a pie tin and get roughly the same results. You won't get the scallopped edge, but the point of a dessert is to BE yummy. It can LOOK yummy, but I'm not one of those "eat with my eyes" type folks.

Simple Strawberry Tart

Pastry:
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
2 1/2 T. granulated sugar
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour

Custard:
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 1/2 T. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. milk
6 T. butter, divided and room temperature
4 c. strawberries, halved
1 c. (1-12 oz. jar) red currant jelly or seedless strawberry jam

Butter and flour a 9, 10, or 11 inch tart pan with false bottom.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add walnuts, egg, and almond extract. Mix well. Add in half the flour and mix until well incorporated, add remaining half of flour and scrape sides of bowl if necessary to incorporate.

When flour is incorporated, press dough into bottom and sides of tart pan. Chill for 30-60 minutes. Heat oven to 350 F. and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until sides of crust are golden brown. Cool to room temperature.

For custard filling, beat egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla on high until pale and thick.

In a small pot, heat milk over low heat to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour milk into egg yolk mixture. Beat about 1 minute or until smooth. Pour egg yolk mixture back into pot and whisk over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Mixture will thicken; whisk until mixture is thick, creamy, and smooth. Next, make an inappropriate joke and take yourself back to when you were 15 year old.

Return mixture to mixing bowl (it can be a little dirty--it's all the same batter, anyway) and beat on low. Add butter, 1 T. at a time until butter is melted (about 1 minute between tablespoons). Beat mixture another minute or two, to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours or until mixture is firm and chilled.

To assemble, spread custard over crust with the back of a spoon until entire crust is coated. Arrange strawberry halves over custard and chill tart for 30 minutes to set berries in custard.

In a small pot, melt jam over medium, stirring occassionally until completely smooth. Brush gently over berries and pour slowly over tart to just cover the custard but not overflow off the tart. Chill 2 hours, serve cool.

Notes:
  • There is just enough custard to cover an 11-inch tart. If you want a thicker custard, you could double the amount, but I think the beauty of this dessert is that it leaves you wanting a little more.
  • I didn't like the currant jam--it was too savory for my tastes. I'm making this for work on Wednesday and subbing strawberry. I think that will be the perfect compliment to the strawberries and custard.
  • I made this in stages. I made the dough and custard on Saturday and assembled and added the toppings on Sunday. The custard held up well and was still crispy and had a nice crumb on Sunday. This is easy enough to be made on the day you want to serve it or bring it somewhere, but leave plenty of time for the chilling steps in between.
  • If you are making it the day before, be sure to cover the crust or place in an airtight container so it doesn't go stale. It'd be terrible to have such a great dessert and ruin it with a stale crust.
  • The original recipe stated to just plop the strawberries down decoratively, but whole. I didn't like the way that looked. I think halved strawberries or strawberry slices makes for a nicer presentation.
  • This has a number of steps, but it's so easy. I was pretty blown away by how simple all the steps were. It took longer for the darn thing to chill than it did for me to throw it together. I labelled it under 'Quick and Easy' because it was really simple to build the crust, chill and go work on something else, bake, make the custard, chill and work on something else...baby steps, man.
  • The chilling is a little annoying, but it's necessary to set everything together.

1 comment:

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