Strawberry Tarts with White Chocolate Creme Patisserie
Summer means lighter desserts since the last thing you want on a hot day is something heavy. Imagine a nice warm summer evening sitting on the deck sipping chilled moscato wine, listening to jazz and tucking into one of these tarts. The beauty is you can make these ahead of time; like the day before and enjoy a nice relaxing evening dining al fresco.
Adapt this recipe to make it your own with different fresh fruit toppings if you like. I’ve made this tart with raspberries before and it’s amazing. If you like- you can make one large tart as well. If you really want to save time, you can make both your tart shells and the pastry cream a day or two ahead and assemble them on the day of your party. Make sure to buy your berries no longer than a day before assembly to ensure a very fresh taste.
Shortbread tart Crust: (10-12 mini 3 inch tarts OR 1 9-10 inch tart)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/3 C confectioners sugar
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
(soft butter for brushing tart pan)
In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed; cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the vanilla bean paste and combine briefly until smooth. In a small bowl whisk the flour and salt to combine. Add the flour mixture on medium low speed until the mixture is almost combined; there will be some bits at the bottom of the bowl. Stop the mixer and with your hands lightly mix the dough together to incorporate any little bits until it is combined.
Prepare the tart pan by brushing with soft butter and flouring the pan; tap out any loose flour. This step is key if you want to actually remove the tart crust from the bottom part of the pan; such as if you are giving it for a gift or putting it in a box to take to a party. The flour will ensure you can slip a thin spatula in between the crust and the bottom portion of the removable tart pan. Hey, if you are having your own party and you don’t plan to transport that sucker, then skip this step. There is enough butter in the tart crust that you will still be able to remove the ring without buttering or flouring the pan.
Press the dough into the tart pan until it looks fairly even. Chill the crust for at least 30 minutes before you bake it. I chill mine an hour so it helps prevent the crust from shrinking when baked. Once the crust has chilled, dock the bottom of the crust very well all over with the tines of a fork; being careful not to go all the way through. This will prevent the crust from puffing as much as possible when baked, or you can blind bake your shells. Set the tart shells on a cookie sheet and Bake at 350 º F for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust looks no longer wet. You are not really looking for color. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the bottom of the tart shells lightly with a beaten egg white. Note: if your crust(s) have puffed up I like to take a the back of a rounded measuring teaspoon to quickly smooth out the crusts flat (for mini tarts) or an offset spatula for one large tart; then I brush with the egg white. The egg white will prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the tart crust cool completely on a wire rack.
White Chocolate Crème Patisserie (Pastry Cream)
yield: enough filling or 10-12 mini 3 inch tarts OR 9-10 inch tart
1 1/4 C whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste
3 egg yolks
1/4 C sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
2 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. soft butter
4 oz. melted & cooled white chocolate
In a medium bowl place the egg yolks and whisk in the sugar until smooth. In a small bowl combine the flour and corn starch; stir to combine. Add this to your egg yolk/sugar mixture and whisk vigorously until the mixture is smooth. In a sauce pan bring together the milk and vanilla bean paste to a boil. Kill the heat. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly temper in about half of the milk a little at a time to your egg yolk mixture; whisking continuously to ensure the yolks don’t burn. Return the mixture to the rest of the milk in the pan, and on low-medium heat, whisk the mixture vigorously until the cream thickens; keep whisking and cook it for about one minute until it looks like pudding. Kill the heat and transfer it to a bowl. Whisk in the soft butter. If you think you may have any lumps you can pass it through a sieve. Skipping this step would make many a pastry chef cringe, but I’m a whisking maniac and am pretty fast so I skip this step. Whisk in the white chocolate. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and chill until cold.
Note: If after chilling you find your pastry cream is not thick enough- you did not let it boil long enough. You can always rescue it by returning it to the pan and make a small slurry of cold water and 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch and bring to boil while whisking mixture.
To assemble: Place cold pastry cream into each tart shell, smooth the filling. Top with your berries/fruit. Brush with warm glaze (recipe below) and keep tarts chilled until ready to serve.
1/4 Cup seedless strawberry, seedless raspberry or apricot Jam
2-3 tsp. water
Heat the jam and water over low heat until mixture is thin. If using apricot jam; strain the chunks of fruit out.