And strawberries, please don't get me started! They're my favourite berry and come with so many childhood memories. I think I previously mentioned how my brother and I used to thieve them with our grotty little hands from the old lady's garden next door when we were kids. Seeing as I don't have any blind grannies living next door anymore, with loads of fat strawberries glaring at me through the crack in the fence, hubby comes home from the Brisbane markets with them instead. Legally obtained ones, of course.
Usually my two year old son gets to them first though, and has been known to scoff down a punnet in a sitting. Good thing they're high in vitamin C. When I think of that fact, I don't mind how many he eats.
So. Strawberries and custard, in a tart. How much better can it get? Oh wait! It's topped with strawberry jam as well. Delicious. And it's such a fancy looking yet simple dessert, and contains less sugar than my usual sweet morsels.
I added some lychee liqueur to the custard in my version of this tart, just to give it a more fruity, tropical twist. The smell is divine and the texture and taste just fabulous. The custard holds together beautifully, so if you go for the whole large tart instead of the smaller version, have no fear that it's going to squish everywhere out the sides when you cut it, as it chills nice and firm. The pastry case is particularly impressive too, resembling a (less crumbly) uncooked shortbread in the dough stage, and a nice, sturdy, crisp and sweet shell in the end. I will be keeping this recipe for other invented recipes, as you could fill these great pastry cases with anything from fruit to mousse, jelly or cheesecake! Don't forget to check out more delicious recipes from this months Secret Recipe Club reveal, and head over to Wives With Knives for the original recipe, which is a whole tart instead of my little individual ones. Bon appetit!
STRAWBERRY CREAM TART (Adapted from Wives With Knives)
2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp. corn flour
1 heaped tsp. butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp lychee liqueur
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
1 3/4 cup plain flour
12 strawberries, fanned (see directions below)
3 tbsp strawberry jam to glaze
To make the patisserie creme, place the milk in a saucepan over high heat until boiling. Meanwhile, beat the yolks and sugar in a bowl on medium high until it is light yellow and falls into the bowl as a ribbon, after about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla essence. On a low speed, beat in the corn flour until well combined. Once the milk has boiled, remove from heat and, with the beaters running on low, pour the milk into the egg mixture. Combine. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Lower the heat to medium and stir continuously with a whisk until the mixture is thick and the corn flour is cooked, after about 8 minutes. Bring this custard to the boil and cook, whisking for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in butter, vanilla and liqueur. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
To make the pastry, preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the butter and sugar in a medium bowl and beat until just combined. Add the vanilla.Sift the flour and salt over the top of the butter mixture. Beat until a dough begins to form.
With a light hand, gently combine the mixture and form into 12 rough ball shapes, all of equal size. Place each ball inside the holes of a regular sized, 12 hole muffins tray. If you are using a regular muffin tray, ensure it is well greased.
Press the dough into the holes and up the sides to make pastry cases. Make sure the dough is pressed evenly around the sides and bottom. Place the tray in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile cut out 12 squares of non stick baking paper to fit inside the muffin tray holes. Place these papers inside each hole on top of the chilled pastry. Use pastry weights or rice over each paper to ensure the pastry does not rise in the first faze of cooking. Place the tray into the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and gently remove the papers and their weights. Poke a few holes in the pastry bases using a fork. Return the pastry cases to the oven and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, or until golden and crisp looking. Cool in the tray, then remove and place on a cooling rack.
Fill each case with the patisserie creme. You can simply spoon it in or pipe it in for a prettier effect, as the creme is quite thick. Top with a fanned strawberry, and brush with jam to glaze. Serve with cream, if desired.
Making a fanned strawberry garnish:
Lay the strawberry on a flat surface. Working from about a cm from the green stalk, cut a series of thin slices through the strawberry in a vertical motion from one side to the next. Take the strawberry and gently urge the slices apart in a fan motion. Voila!
NOTES: You can substitute the lychee liqueur for any desired flavouring, however, the intensity of flavourings differ, so add only a little at a time until you reach the desired strength. 1 tsp of cognac or brandy is a good substitute. If you are not using a silicone muffin tray, ensure the tray is well greased before placing the pastry inside the holes. You can also make this as one whole tart, by pressing the dough into a 10 inch round or 9 inch square false bottom tart pan. If you are using rice as a pastry weight, you can keep this and reuse this, as it will be unaffected by the heat.