Monday, June 3, 2013

Strawberry Tarts with French Pastry Cream

I got the idea for these from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris strawberry tart recipe; it took a couple of tries, and now it's perfected! I'm sure it would be delicious with any berry (mmmm, blackberries!). You could also skip the tart shell and just serve it in dessert bowls.

I will warn you, though: the pastry cream takes a good 20+ min of cooking and stirring over low heat. There's no shortcut: bring it to a boil and you'll end up with soup, so maybe listen to a good audio book, or TV show, or catch up on the phone with a friend while you patiently stir. Serves 4

Tart Shells
2.5 c finely ground, blanched almond flour (Bob's Red Mill isn't blanched & is too coarse ~ I use JK Gourmet or Honeyville, which is less expensive)
3/4 tsp sea salt
3 TB coconut oil, melted

1 tsp raw honey
1 extra-large pasture-raised egg, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375*

Pulse the flour and salt in a food processor to mix, then add the oil, honey and egg, and pulse until everything is mixed together and forms a ball. Press the dough into 4 individual tart pans with removable sides. Prick holes all across the bottom with a fork so it doesn't puff up (since we aren't blind-baking, it may do that a little anyway; just tap the bottoms back down lightly with a fork and continue baking.) Bake for 10 minutes until a light golden color and cool on a rack to room temperature while you make the filling.

Pastry Cream
5* extra-large pasture-raised egg yolks, room temperature
*Use 6 yolks if they are medium or barely large eggs
2/3 c raw honey
3 TB tapioca flour or tapioca starch (different names for the same thing) 
1.5 c whole (full fat) coconut milk
1/2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1 to 1.5 tsp Cognac

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and honey together on medium high for 6-7 minutes, until it's very thick and light-colored. Reduce to the lowest speed (Stir) and add the tapioca flour.

Scald the coconut milk by warming in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until steam rises and bubbles form around the edges. Don't allow it to boil, or the custard won't thicken. (I thought it wouldn't matter since it's the molecular structure of proteins in cow's milk that breaks down at a boil, but guess what? It has the same effect with coconut milk.)

Temper the egg/honey mixture: put the pan of hot milk on a hot pad next to the mixer set on Stir, and slowly ladle in half the milk, then slowly pour in the rest of the milk. If you add it in too quickly, you'll have scrambled eggs poached in milk.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, get your movie/book/phone ready, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 20-25 min. At first it will look like there's kind of a layer of more foamy milk on top; that will eventually go away as you cook and stir. Don't let it come to a boil, just slowly cook and stir until it thickens to the consistency of pudding, and equals about 1-3/4 c. You can pour it into a measuring cup to check and then pour it back into the pan; it won't hurt it. 

Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and Cognac, taste and add a little more if you like. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap laid directly on the custard so a skin doesn't form, and chill.

Strawberry Topping
Fresh strawberries (about 2 cups), hulled and if large, halved
3 TB pistachio nuts
1/4 c  unsweetened apricot jelly or jam + 1 tsp water

Warm the jelly in a small saucepan with the water and if it's jam, put through a sieve with the back of a spoon. Spoon the custard into the tart shells and arrange the berries on top. Brush the tops of the tarts with the jelly (you'll have some left over jelly) and dot with pistachios. Eat as much as you like: you've earned it!


  1. Someone asked me if you could make a regular sized tart with this. The answer is Yes, you can, but the pastry cream isn't as firm as a normal custard pie and will spill out the sides a little. That's why these are in individual tart pans. If you want to do it though, you can use the recipe for a full sized tart here

  2. So excited to try this! Yum.

  3. I hope you do, cavewomancafe. Please let me know what you think :-)

  4. Lovely work, Kyrah! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday which is all about French inspired Food? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. There are already a lot of links for you to check out. Cheers

  5. Thank you, Carole! Great blog you have - everyone, it's called Carole's Chatter:

  6. So glad you liked it, Kyrah, and merci beaucoup for linking in. Hope to see you again soon.

  7. This looks amazing, I can not wait to try this!.

  8. Thanks, Kelly! Please do let me know how you like it :-)