Mini Strawberry Tart with Basil Pastry Cream

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In the past, I made a Mint Glazed Strawberry Galette in a Thyme Crust. One of my favorite ingredient combos though, besides peanut butter/chocolate and nutella/whipped cream, is strawberry/basil. I am very much obsessed with basil everything, i.e. basil ice cream, so naturally, basil pastry cream makes a lot of sense in my head, especially as a shockingly delightful twist for tea parties or family get togethers. I chose to make a buttery crust, adding to the savory element of this tart, and used a mini tart pan for a more personal-sized indulgence, even though the recipe below is technically suited for a 9 inch pan. If you prefer the mini route, just keep filling tart pans until you run out of prepared ingredients (should make about 5-6  mini depending on your pan size)

Also, we had a “Locktop Lunch” event at work, so I decided to make two kinds of tarts. These Locktops feature a removable divider + small extra container for transporting your lunch and keeping food groups separated, so I seized the opportunity for good ole symmetry.

Pictured below: Tomato Basil Quiche / Strawberry Basil Tart over two kinds of Spinach Salad (Honey Mustard salad dressing in a container on the side). Quiche recipe tk.

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Pate Brisee Recipe (from the Joy of Baking):

Makes 2-9inch shells
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water

Basil pastry cream

1 small bunch of basil, gently torn but not chopped
2 cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
120g sugar
40g cornstarch
25g butter

Sliced strawberries
Extra sugar (and cinnamon optional) for sprinkling
Basil leaves for decoration

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For the dough:

In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined.  Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds).  Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube until the dough just holds together when pinched.  Add remaining water, if necessary.  Do not process more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the dough into two equal pieces,flatten each portion into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour before using. This will chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax. At this point you can also freeze the dough for later use. (I let it rest in the fridge overnight.)

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For the pastry cream:

Bring the milk and basil to a boil in a small sauce pan. Turn off the heat, cover and leave the milk to infuse for about an hour.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Ready a big bowl with an ice bath.

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Strain the milk and discard the basil. Reheat the milk until hot but not boiling then pour about one third of it onto the egg mixture, whisking continuously.

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Transfer the mixture back into the remaining milk, still whisking over medium-high heat until the cream is thick and velvety, about 5 minutes.

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Submerge the pastry cream into the readied bowl of ice water, still whisking. Stir in the butter. Allow to cool to room temperature then cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate.

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Baking the dough:

For each disk of pastry, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to fit your tart or pie pan. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness) and don’t use as much force on the edges, since it’s tempting to thin them out. The pastry should be about an inch larger than your pan. Lightly roll pastry around your rolling pin, dusting off any excess flour as you roll. Unroll onto the top of your tart or pie pan. Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and with a small floured piece of pastry, lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan.

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 If using a tart pan, roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. If using a pie pan, flute the edges of the pastry.

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With the tines of a fork, prick the bottom of the dough (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line pastry shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, rice or beans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is dry and lightly browned.  

Final Assembly

Once crust has cooled completely,  fill with pastry cream and decorate with fresh sliced strawberries. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon and place basil leaves.

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