strawberry tart with pastry cream


Tarts and pies are my latest summer obsession. They are versatile, easy, familiar, and can always be eaten with a scoop of ice cream. What more can you ask for? One of my first memories of fruit tarts are from a Japanese bakery where my family would have breakfast every Sunday during my childhood. The tarts were perfectly round topped with blemish-free fruit glistening with shiny, sugary glaze. And sandwiched between the crust and fruit is a creamy, sweet custard. From then on, I’ve always had a soft spot for fruit tarts. I eat them so often at bakeshops that I realize I’ve never actually made one. So after 30-something years, here is my first fruit tart with pastry cream.

The best part of this recipe is that each component can be eaten on its own. The shortbread crust is the perfect balance of sweetness and butter. The custard is creamy and tangy. And there is no need to state why fresh summer berries are awesome. But why would you eat them separately if you have all three on hand?

summer berry tart

crust ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
crust directions:
  1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar and salt together. Add butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter looks like crumbles. Add in the egg and pulse until it comes together into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 4 or more hours. 
  2. To roll the dough: Butter a two 6.5 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured surface to 8-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from surface. Place the dough into the tart pans. Seal any cracks in dough. Fold any extra overhang in, making the sides thicker. Pierce crusts all over with fork. 
  3. Freeze the crusts for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake the crusts for 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer or until golden brown.
pastry cream ingredients:
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened 
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
pastry cream directions:
  1. Bring ¾ of the milk in a saucepan to a low simmer over medium heat. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch and the remaining milk. 
  3. Remove the milk from the stove and add the hot milk to the yolk mixture to warm it, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from cooking. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return the custard to the stove. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook for 1-2 minutes until it thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
  4. With a handmixer, blend the cream cheese, butter, salt, and vanilla together. Add the custard and sugar. Blend until the ingredients are well incorporated and the custard is smooth. 
To assemble:
  1. Divide up the custard between the two tart shells. Top with fresh berries of your choice. Serve immediately after assembling. Garnish with chopped nuts.

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