“Summertime and the livin’ is easy… ”
You have to love fresh berry and custard tarts during summertime, a French classic for a reason… Especially delicious if you hunt for the freshest berries (organic if possible) straight from the greenmarket when they’re bursting with incredible flavor. Simple and pure flavors—the taste of summer.
Blackberries go particularly well with this intense vanilla bean custard (crème pâtissière) adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe, but any fresh berries, or even sliced stone fruit would be wonderfully delicious. All fit nicely in a sweet, cookie like tart crust.
Picnic and party tip: Make mini tartlet shells and vanilla bean custard, pack each separately (wrap tart shells in paper to keep their crispness) and assemble on site up to one hour beforehand. Or, for even more fun… let everyone create their own tarts with custard filled to the brim, topped with loads of fresh berries.
Happy Fourth of July! x
Sweet Tart Pastry Shell I’ve used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (via Dorie Greenspan). The beauty of this pastry is that it’s a “no shrink” recipe, so there’s no need for using pie weights while baking. The recipe makes one, nine inch tart, or enough for four smaller tarts.
Vanilla Bean Custard (Crème Pâtissière)
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris, 2004
5 large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 large vanilla bean pod split and seeds scrapped
(The following ingredients add extra richness and flavor however, any or all could be omitted, the custard is still delicious.)
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, Cognac or other flavoring
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
In a medium saucepan heat the milk and vanilla bean seeds just to scalding then set aside.
In a bowl using an electric mixer beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes or until very thick. Reduce mixing speed and add the cornstarch.
Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding a small amount of the hot milk to the bowl while mixing at the lower speed. Continue very slowly pouring the hot milk into the egg mixture.
Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly with a heat proof spatula until the custard thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes.
When the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle switch to using a whisk and beat vigorously. Continue cooking, whisking constantly for another 2 minutes while the custard becomes very thick like pudding and comes together.
Stir in Grand Marnier, butter, and heavy cream (if using any, or all or these) while the custard cools just a bit.
Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a large shallow bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard surface, refrigerate until cold. Makes about 2 cups
If you are assembling the tart/tarts more than an hour in advance of serving brush the inside the cooked and cooled shells with warmed, strained apricot jam, let dry at least 20 minutes before filling to seal and help keep the pastry crust from getting soft after filling with custard.
Fill the cooled tart shells with the Vanilla Bean Custard, smoothing the surface using the back of a spoon or offset spatula, top with fresh berries, and garnish with fresh mint leaves.