So, I made this tart and ate it for breakfast. Not really. I am just kidding. We ate for dinner. Farmer’s markets are full of fresh vegetables and fruits. I don’t get chance to go to Union Square market, but Jersey city also has a small market compared to NY markets. Every time, I pass by farmers market, I want to stop and buy. Everything that I see attracts me. Few days ago when I saw these fresh tiny strawberries, I immediately bought two pints of them. I have learnt that tiny the fruit the better it is. It immediately reminded me of the wild strawberries we had in Italy and France. The fruits that we had in France was the best fresh produce I have ever had. I wish we had farmers market all around more so often. Anyways, I bought the strawberries and I had so many plans to make use of them. Should I just eat them as they are or should I make a dessert with it. So, I decided to make the tart. I wanted to make a pavlova, or something else but ended up making tart which of course was not a bad idea.
As I was hulling the strawberries, I could see they were so red from inside. Usually the berries that I have bought would be white inside and would not even have any flavor. These were tart, sweet and juicy at the same time.
Tart shell – 8 ” inch
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- ½ cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
Pastry Cream – makes 2 cups
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla/almond extract
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 pint Strawberries
Tart Shell – Take flour, almond meal, salt and sugar in a bowl. You can also use a food processor. I usually end up making it in a bowl by hands. I like to feel the ingredients. Add the cubed pieces of butter. Working very quickly, rub the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingers until the butter and flour resembles tiny crumbles. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Combine with your hands, working quickly. Do not knead the dough too long. Transfer the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten gently into a disk, and wrap to cover it completely, place it in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Remove the dough from refrigerator, unwrap and place on a flat work surface lightly floured. Roll out with a rolling pin until thin, transfer to a lightly greased tart pan. If you feel rolling does not help and it is sticky, sometimes I transfer the dough onto the tart pan and spread it with back of my hands or use a round small bowl to press the dough. Gently press the dough against the sides, trim off excess dough with your fingers. Keep about ¼ inch thickness.
Blind bake: prick the bottom with a fork. Line the dough with parchment paper, top with any kind of large beans as weights, I used chickpeas. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then remove the parchment paper filled with the beans and bake the tart shell for another 10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let it cool completely before assembling.
Method for pastry cream –
Take 1 cup of milk along with sugar in heavy bottom pan. Add salt. Whisk it properly. Bring the pan to boil on a medium high heat. Stir occasionally to make sure the milk is not burning in the bottom or the sides of the pan. If it does, it will give burnt taste to the cream.
In another bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup milk and cornstarch. Add in the vanilla or almond extract. You can also use vanilla bean paste. Mix in eggs one by one and make sure it is a smooth mixture.
Once the milk is boiled, slowly add it to the bowl of egg mixture; continuously whisking add all of the milk. Make sure to whisk it continuously or else the eggs will get scrambled. We want to distribute the heat throughout the egg mixture. Pour everything back in the saucepan.
Whisk on medium heat until the custard has thickened and cornstarch is cooked enough to remove the rawness of cornstarch. You can reduce the heat if you feel it is sticking.
Remove it from the stove and whisk in the butter and mix it well.
Transfer it to another bowl. Let it come to room temperature. At this point you can assemble your tart or cover the custard with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator before assembling.I prefer to whisk it before assembling if it has been in the refrigerator to make it smooth and easy to spread.
Assemble the tart –
Take the tart shell, spoon approx 1 cup of pastry and spread it with a cake frosting spatula evenly inside the tart shell. Decorate with hulled and sliced strawberries in any pattern you desire. Garnish it with mint or basil. I usually like to serve the tart slightly cold. But you can also serve it at room temperature. Enjoy!