Thursday, February 28, 2013

Strawberry Tarts

It saddens me to say that I am allergic to strawberries. Such a horrible fruit to be allergic to. They are beautifully red and deliciously sweet and juicy. Yet, that does not stop me from using strawberries in my baked goods. What I have chosen to make with them are gorgeous strawberry tarts. I wish that I could take the credit for this recipe but sadly, I have borrowed it from Keiko's Cakes. If you are someone who is very serious about baking, I would highly recommend becoming a member of this 'cooking school'. Keiko is a master pastry chef who really knows what she is doing. I found her videos to be extremely helpful and even though the recipes may look tough, they are not too difficult to follow. I definitely would not recommend beginners to use these recipes though.

Now back to the tarts. What I love about these tarts is that they are perfectly balanced in terms of textures and flavors. The tart shell has just the right amount of crunch and density to hold the smooth custard. The custard has just the right thickness to hold the strawberries. And the strawberries...well they are just the right amount of wonderful. Using pistachios to cover the edge of the strawberries is not only aesthetically pleasing but they also add a nice kick of saltiness. From bottom to top the tart is made up of: tart shell, almond cream, pastry cream, strawberries, whipped cream, pistachios. The whole tart is sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, light and...well why don't you just make it and see for yourself. 

Strawberry Tarts
adapted from Keikos Cakes 
makes approx 6 small tarts or 1 large tart

Tart shell
Butter 110 g (cold)
Icing sugar 75 g
Flour 185 g
Almond powder 25 g
Egg 50 g (one medium size egg)


In a food processor, combine the flour, icing sugar, and almond powder. Blitz for 10 seconds. Then, add in the cold butter and process until you have fine crumbs. Transfer the mixture into a small bowl and slowly work in the egg. Once the mixture starts to come together, transfer it onto a flat work surface and knead until all the ingredients have fully incorporated. Work the mixture into a ball, flatten it, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put the dough into the fridge for one hour.
After one hour, roll out the dough to a 3 mm (0.1 inches) sheet and place the dough in the tart pan. Make sure not to stretch out the dough in this process. Roll out the remaining dough and cut out round sheets with a ring cutter slightly larger than the size of your tartlet pan. Place the dough sheets in the tartlet pan. Again, do not stretch the dough. Cut the excess dough with a knife. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven at 375°F.

Almond Cream
Butter 140 g
Sugar 140 g
Egg 140 g,
Almond powder 140 g,
Flour 20 g, sifted


In a stand mixture, cream the butter until it is pale and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix. Then, add the egg little by little. Mix well after each addition. Finally, fold the sifted almond powder and flour into the batter.  
Fill the almond cream into a pastry bag and pipe out a large spiral onto the baked large tart shell. Also fill the small tart shells with almond cream. Bake the filled tart for another 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven at 350°F. After baking, remove the tarts from the tart pans and let them cool down completely.
Pastry Cream
Milk 300g
Butter  20g
Sugar 60g
Egg yolk 60g
1/2 Vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
Flour 35g


Combine the milk with the scraped vanilla pod, 1/4 of the sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. When the milk starts boiling, remove the saucepan from the heat and cover it with a plate. Leave it for 5 minutes to let the vanilla flavors infuse into the milk.
In the meantime, mix the egg yolk and remaining sugar in a large bowl. Mix until the egg mixture is thick, pale, and creamy. Next, add the sifted flour and mix well. Pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolk and mix gently. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Put the saucepan back on medium head and stir until the pastry cream thickens. Pour the hot pastry cream into a flat pan and let it cool completely. 
Strawberries, sliced in half
Whipped cream
Chopped pistachios    
Melted apricot preserves  
Pipe the cooled pastry cream into the tart shell until it reaches the rim. Then, gently place the sliced strawberries in the middle of the tart (refer to the pictures). Brush the strawberries with the melted apricot preserves. This gives the strawberries a nice shine and also preserves them. Next, pipe a small swirl of whipped cream on top of the strawberries. Last, but not least, cover the edge of the strawberries with the crush pistachios.

VoilĂ ! You now have successfully made strawberry tarts. Granted, this recipe is extremely time consuming and can be a little bit difficult. However, the results are well worth the effort. Good luck! 

Happy Baking!!