Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tarte aux Fraises (Strawberry Tart)






My love for strawberries is an unflinching one, and with gorgeous red orbs like these making their appearance at the market, I've pretty much been floating on cloud nine figuring out ways to enjoy them.

This delicious and may I say, beautiful, tart was a no-brainer for me. My weakness for a good crust and a decadent pastry cream (more specifically in this case, a crème mousseline) almost rival my adoration for strawberries, so this was a triple threat that will satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth this summer. Chopped pistachios not only lend a gorgeous hue, but a textural crunch that adds just another satisfying element to this classic French treat.

Thank you, Katherine, for the beautiful berries!

Tarte aux Fraises, aka: Strawberry Tart - I used different recipes for each component

1 pâte sucrée dough (see below)
1 recipe crème mousseline, basically a pastry cream with added butter(!) (see below)
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
3 TB shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Bake and cool tart dough. Once fully cool, fill the tart shell with chilled pastry cream. Arrange the berries as you like on top of the cream. Sprinkle with pistachios and serve.

Pâte Sucrée - yields 2 doughs (use or freeze the other half)
Courtesy of Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and sugar. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 to 20 seconds.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks; add ice water. With machine running, add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pans from refrigerator, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Line each with a piece of aluminum foil that overhangs the edges by at least 2 inches. Fill foil with pie weights or dried beans; fold foil to enclose, making sure edges of tart are supported by the foil and weights.

Bake until edges are just starting to color, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and weights; continue baking until crust is crisp and evenly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before removing shells.

Pastry Cream - you'll have a bit leftover, enjoy it!
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan via Purple Foodie

1 1/4 cups (300 grams) whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract *HIGHLY recommend using the bean
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup / 100g. sugar
3 tbsp / 30g. cornstarch
3 tbsp / 45g butter

Bring the milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or, if you are using vanilla extract, just bring the milk to a boil and proceed with the recipe. (You will need to add the extract before you add the butter to the hot pastry cream.). Bring it back to the boil after 30 minutes and then continue.

Working in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together until thick and pale. Whisking enthusiastically all the while, drizzle a quarter of the hot milk onto the yolks very slowly. Continue whisking as you pour the rest of the liquid in a steady stream over the tempered yolks.

Put the pan over medium heat and, whisk enthusiastically and without stopping, while the mixture comes to the boil. Turn down the flame and keep the mixture at the boil, whisking energetically, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and scrape the pastry cream into a bowl. Allow the pastry cream to cool on the counter for about 3 minutes.

Stir the butter into the hot pastry cream, continuing to stir until the butter is melted and fully incorporated. Now the cream must be chilled thoroughly. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the cream to seal the surface and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

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