Happy June everyone! I’ve not been posting much for the last days because I had bad headaches (plus my right eye was twitching – still is a bit and it’s kinda annoying) so I wasn’t baking at all. I think allergies are kicking in but I’m feeling way better. On the other hand, one of my dogs Pom Pom is sick. I’m kinda worried because tomorrow she is going to be tested for Addison’s disease, we really need to do that test because she has had this on and off vomiting for the last year . At the beginning, we thought it was a stomach issue, so she was on a special diet and stuff, but last week she had a bad episode of vomiting so our vet told us that it’s time to see if it’s Addison’s disease. Pom Pom will be 3 years old next month and we got her from a rescue place. She is a sweet and loving girl. I just want her to be happy and healthy. Please, cross your fingers for Pom Pom and that everything turns out ok.
Changing subjects… I always go to Napa Valley for wine tasting but last weekend we met my husband’s brother and his girlfriend in Placerville to visit a couple of their wineries around Apple Hill. Apple Hill is a very touristic spot around Fall time because as the name says they have everything apple from pies to cider and other stuff. Also, they have a cool pumpkin patch and other activities. If you live in Northern California, I suggest you visit and enjoy a big apple fritter! We visited Boeger and Jodar wineries. Both wineries have excellent wine! We agreed that his brother was going to bring some snacks (like a cheese platter) and I made dessert. I wanted something with fruit so I baked strawberry and cream tarts, everyone loved them.
This recipe is about a shortbread crust filled with a luscious pastry cream and topped with strawberries.
Let’s start with the recipe.
Yield 5 – 4 inch tarts
For the crust:
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups cake flour
For the pastry cream:
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup white granulated sugar (divide into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
2 cups milk (divide into 1 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
4 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
strawberries to decorate, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup melted chocolate (I used milk chocolate)
For the crust:
1.- In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium speed. Mix until smooth.
2.- Add the yolk and continue to mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add all the flour and mix on low until the dough is crumbly, about one minute.
3.- Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and press dough together into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
4.- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
5.- Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 5 equal parts. Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough. Roll it out into an even layer circle. Gently lift the dough and position it over the tartlet pan. Using your fingertips, gently press the dough against the sides and bottom of the pan. Repeat with remaining pieces.
6.- Use a fork to punch holes in the bottom of the dough. Bake tart shells in preheated oven until shell is a nice golden brown throughout- about 15-20 minutes. Let the crust cool in pan for 5 minutes because unmolding and allow to cool completely on wire rack.
For the pastry cream:
1.- Pour 1 1/2 cup of milk into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add salt and 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk together. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally to make sure the milk does not burn along the sides or bottom of the pan.
2.- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar. Add in remaining 1/2 cup of milk and yolks. Whisk until smooth.
3.-Once the milk begins to steam, remove it from the heat. Temper the milk into the egg mixture by gradually whisking just a thin drizzle of the hot milk, a little at a time, to raise the temperature of the eggs. Once combined, add all of the contents back to the saucepan.
4.- Whisk constantly over medium heat until the custard has thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and whisk until combined.
5.-To make sure our pastry cream is completely free from any bits of cooked egg, strain the cooked pastry cream though a mesh sieve into a heat-safe container. Immediately press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming.
6.- Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
How to assemble:
1.- Brush the bottoms of the tart shell with chocolate, if using. This will help keep the bottom of the tart crispy and prevent it from getting soggy. Let chill in the freezer for a couple of minutes to harden chocolate.
2.- Refresh the pastry cream by giving it a good whisk. Spread pastry cream among the tart shells.
3.- Arrange the strawberries over the pastry cream. If you want, you can make a glaze so you can make your strawberries look nicer.
4.- You can keep the tarts in the fridge in a container up to 2 days.