Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Strawberry Tart--Valentine's Dessert 1

Fresh Strawberry Tart

If you are lucky and find fresh and tasty strawberries at this time of year then make this beautiful strawberry tart for your sweetheart! This was one of our favorite treats when we visited the patisseries in Paris. My husband learned how to make one while we lived in Paris from a friend of ours who was studying culinary arts there. Though I made this one pictured, my hubby really perfected the recipe! Believe me, he's made many versions and this is the one we've found works the best. The sweet thick crust combined with the silky cream topped with firm ripe fruit! Perfection!

It's not exactly the easiest recipe but it's worth it!

Pastry: from Cooks Illustrated
Makes one 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart shell
If the dough feels too firm when you’re ready to roll it out, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes. If, on the other hand, the dough becomes soft and sticky while rolling, don’t hesitate to rechill it until it becomes easier to work with. Better to rechill than to add too much flour, which will damage the delicate, crisp texture of the dough. We find a French rolling pin (as pictured in illustrations) to be the most precise instrument for rolling tart pastry. Bake the tart shell in a 9- to 9 ½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and fluted sides about 1 to 1 1/8 inches high. This recipe is formally known as Pâte Sucrée.


1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, very cold), cut into twenty-four 3/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon flour for dusting


  1. 1. Whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine 1 1/4 cups flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  2. 2. Unwrap dough; lightly flour large sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap and place dough in center. Following illustrations 1-9, roll out dough and line tart pan. Freeze dough 30 minutes.
  3. 3. Meanwhile, adjust one oven rack to upper-middle position and other rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Place chilled tart shell on cookie sheet; press 12-inch square of foil inside tart shell and fill with metal or ceramic pie weights. Bake on lower rack 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Transfer cookie sheet with tart shell to upper rack and continue to bake until shell is golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.


Rolling and Fitting the Dough
  • 1. To facilitate rolling, flatten the dough with a rolling pin by rapping it smartly with one hand and spinning the dough with the other.
  • 2. Roll the dough upward from the center and downward from the center with even pressure.
  • 3. Spin the dough one quarter turn, repeating step 2 until dough is 13 inches in diameter (15 inches for an 11-inch tart pan) and 1/8 inch thick. Loosen the dough from the plastic and flour again.
  • 4. Ease the dough over the rolling pin and roll it up loosely. Unroll the dough on top of the tart pan.
  • 5. Lift the edge of the dough with one hand and ease it into the corners of the pan with the other.
  • 6. Press the dough into the fluted sides of the pan, forming a distinct seam along the pan circumference.
  • 7. If some edges are too thin, reinforce the sides by folding the dough back on itself.
  • 8. Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove any excess dough.
  • 9. The finished edge should be 1⁄4 inch thick. If it is not, press the dough up over the edge and pinch.

Pastry Cream from Bo Friberg's Professional Pastry Chef.
1 pint (480 ml) whole milk
½ vanilla bean (½ tsp. vanilla extract)
1.5 oz. (30g) corn starch
4 oz. (115g) sugar
¼ tsp. (1g) salt
2 eggs
2 oz. (55g) unsalted butter
  1. Place the milk in heavy bottom saucepan.
  2. If using the vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scrape out seeds.
  3. Add seeds and pod halves to milk and bring to boil.
  4. Keeping eye on milk, whisk corn starch, sugar and salt in bowl.
  5. Gradually add eggs, and mix until smooth.
  6. Slowly add 1/3 of hot milk to egg mixture while whisking rapidly.
  7. Pour tempered egg mixture back into remaining milk.
  8. Place over medium heat, and cook stirring constantly until mixture comes to boil and thickens.
  9. Boil for a few seconds longer to make sure the raw starch taste has disappeared.
  10. Remove vanilla bean, rinse and save for another use.
  11. Stir in vanilla extract (if using) and butter until incorporated.
  12. Pour custard into bowl and cover with baking paper.
  13. When cooled, store in refrigerator.

Finally, top with your choice of fresh seasonal fruit. We prefer strawberries (about a pound or maybe 2?). Use clean and dried fruit. I recommend washing and letting air dry before you start the actual recipe. Dust with powdered sugar or make a glaze with strawberry jelly and water. Mix and heat for a little bit until it become spreadable. Drizzle or paint over the fruit. Beautiful, isn't it?

No, that's not me modeling. It's my lovely sister! Print Friendly and PDF

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