Valentine's Day may have been over a week ago, but that doesn't mean the time for eating berries has passed. In fact, I think it might be even more important to eat a berry tart right now. Its good to enjoy life's simple treats whenever you can. I'm hoping that if I eat like its spring then spring will come much more quickly.
This tart is great if you are in need of a quick dessert. It requires simple, common ingredients and doesn't take tons of time to create. The most challenging part is making the pastry cream, but its a fun and rewarding challenge. The kind that makes life interesting but not cumbersome.
Now, I must admit. I did cheat a little. I used pre-made pie crust. The kind that you buy in the refrigerated section. Not the frozen pie shell variety, but the kind you can roll out and place in your own pie or tart pan. I would normally make my own pastry dough or tart shell, but I had the pre-made kind on hand and didn't have the time to really make my own. Its been a busy few weeks. If you would prefer a homemade crust, by all means please do. Oh and send a piece my way.
Pastry Dough (pre-made pie crust or your favorite pastry dough)
2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean
1 pint of strawberries, rinsed and dry
Preheat the oven to 400'F. Roll out the pastry dough until it is one inch larger in diameter than the tart pan. Line the tart pan with the dough, cutting away any access from the edge. Dock the dough by pricking the bottom with a fork. (This prevents the dough from puffing up). Bake for 8-10, or until the dough is golden. Set on a rack to cool in the tart pan.
Meanwhile, split a vanilla bean and scrape the pod removing the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and pod, 1 3/4 cups of milk and 1/3 of sugar to a medium sized sauce pan. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until the sugar is melted and the milk is warm. Do not stir.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup or milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch until pale and well combined. Once the heated milk mixture is ready, take it off the heat. Slowly whisk the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Once combined add the mixture back to the sauce pan and begin to whisk over medium high heat. Whisk until thick and smooth around 1 minute.
Remove the pastry cream from the heat. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge.
Slice the strawberries. Once the pastry shell and pastry cream are both cool, fill the shell with the pastry cream, and top with the strawberries. Remove the tart from the tart pan and serve.
*If you want to be really fancy, you can take 1/2 cup of apricot jam and thin it with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the jam over the tart. This retains moisture and gives the tart a pretty shine.*pastry cream recipe is adapted from Epicurious.com