Go to any pattisserie in France and you'll be bombarded with a window full of amazing cakes, flans, croissants, danishes, and fruit tarts. They look so delicious you just can't simply stop at one. You just have to sit in the cafe window, sip on some coffee, nibble on one of these little delicacies and watch the French street life pass you by.
I decided to make mine without the traditional fruit on the top, but it would be very easy for you to just add some raspberries or blueberries on top of the custard.
These traditional French tarts look like they could be quite complicated, but they are very simple to make really. You can either make your own pastry (which I'll show you how) or you can just use some of the store bought pastry to make them even simpler.
Makes 6 tartlets or 1 large 9" tart
For the Sweet Pastry:
1 1/2 cups plain flour (all purpose flour)
1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioners' sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
9 Tabs cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
For the vanilla pastry cream
2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pieces of vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
3 1/2 Tabs unsalted butter, but into pieces and at room temp.
The pastry is lovely and crumply and not too sweet.
To make the pastry
1. Butter your tart pans. Make sure they are the ones with a removable bottom
2. Put all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine.
the pieces of unsalted butter over the top of the dry ingredients, and
pulse until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. If you don't have a food processor, you can do it the old school way, and use your fingertips to rub in the butter. It should look like the photo below when finished.
4. Add the yolk to the food processor and process in long pulses until the dough just comes together. Again, you could also just mix this by hand.
5. Use your hands to bring the pastry together until it forms a ball. Becareful not to handle the dough too much.
6. Wrap in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for 30mins.
7. Roll out your dough until it's about .5cm thick.
8. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You
want to keep it crumbly here, it doesn't have to be perfect. Freeze
crust for 30 minutes.
9. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (375 F).
10. Prick the bottom or your tart cases with a fork. Blind bake your pastry cases for 25 mins, until lightly golden brown.
11. Take your cases out of the oven and leave to cool whilst you make the vanilla custard.
To make the Vanilla Pastry Cream
1. Boil the milk and the vanilla (if using beans, scrape the seeds into the
milk and include the pods)in a small saucepan.
2. As this is heating, in a
medium saucepan whisk the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch, until
thick and well blended.
3. Still whisking, drizzle in about 3/4 cup of the
hot milk in order to warm the yolks. Continue whisking as you slowly add
the rest of the milk.
Tip: Try not to scald your milk, or you will have
clumps in your cream. Also be sure to gradually add your eggs so they
won't cook in the hot milk.
4. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk
constantly, bringing it to a boil. Keep mixture at a boil, continuing to
whisk, for about 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.
5. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until they are fully
incorporated. The pastry cream will be smooth and silky, not clumpy.
6. Scrape cream into a bowl and let it cool off. You can place a piece of
plastic wrap right on the surface of the cream so you don't get a skin.
Refrigerate until it is cold and ready to use.
Assembling your tartlets
1. When you are ready to serve your tartlets, pour the cooled pastry cream into the
tart shells. I then grated fresh nutmeg on the top of the custard.
2. You could make a more traditional fruit tarts by adding fruits of your choice over the top. I find that raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit and bluberries work best.
Your tartlets are now ready to be served.
Yummo! Now let's sit down and have a cuppa and think of Paris.