Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Sweet Tart

This week was a 'freezer week'. I didn't have time to cook, so since I know these weeks will happen in advance (or months, as in the entire month of April), I eat out of my freezer. Thankfully, this weekend offered a reprise.

I just acquired a nice stash of organic Bourbon vanilla beans from this source. Even for a student, this is a price that can't be beat. To match that, the store had strawberries on sale. Score!

Martha's cookbook recommended a tart crust that came out terribly (I blame it on doing the crust in batches), but future attempts should be better. I panicked. Mr. O was coming over in a few minutes and there was no dessert? I jumped on a puff pastry sheet I had in the freezer and threw it on the hot oven top to defrost. Fifteen minutes later, I threw it haphazardly in the tart pan and off we went.

By the way, no one ever tells you how difficult it is to make a tart look pretty. As someone who is definitely artsy but prefers the terms 'freestyle' and 'rustic' as opposed to 'neat' and 'even' this was a frustrating event. The pastry cream sticks like glue to those strawberries! Once they're down, they're down.

Strawberry tart

1 to 1 1/2 pints strawberries, sliced
puff pastry dough, one sheet defrosted
Creme patisserie (recipe below)

Roll out pastry dough to fit pan, if desired. Poke holes in dough with fork so it won't rise while baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until sufficiently brown.

Spread creme patisserie and arrange sliced strawberries on top. Add fresh mint, chocolate ganache, or pearl sugar to top for added effect.

Creme patisserie

from The Martha Stewart Cookbook. There are many variations on Martha's site, but this makes one plain cup which I find suitable for the tart.

1 c milk
1/2 vanilla bean (I used whole, with inside scraped into pan)
1/4 c plus 1 tb sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tb flour
1 tb cornstarch
1 tsp unsalted butter

Combine the milk, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup sugar in saucepan, heat until sugar dissolves. In another bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar until thick. Sprinkle in flour and cornstarch and mix until combined. Add half of the hot milk to eggs and whisk thoroughly until heated. Bring mixture to pan and bring to a boil, whisking away. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool, rubbing the top with butter and then covering with plastic wrap to ensure that a film doesn't form. Cool completely.


Anonymous said...

hopefully you'll bake something from this and post about it, too ;)

Jen Noble said...

I can't make pastry dough consistently; I tend to use frozen puff pastry as a last resort... more often than I want to admit.