Tag Archives: pastry cream

Raspberry Tart

28 Nov

With purple pansiesThis raspberry tart is dramatic, beautiful, romantic and outrageously delicious. Its such a perfect combination of flavours and textures, and its so pretty that people smile when they see it. I love this tart, and I must give credit where it is due – it was inspired by Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio’s amazing raspberry tart, but enlivened with a few of my own happy pleasures. Specifically, dark bittersweet chocolate – and instead of a cookie crust, a pistachio crust inspired by her pistachio ice cream.

This tart is easily made (in its various components) ahead of time, and put together a few hours before serving. The combination of pistachio biscuit crust, dark bittersweet chocolate cream, light vanilla whipped cream and tart fresh raspberries is just outstanding. Crunchy, slightly bitter and nutty, creamy, chocolatey, tart, fresh, cool, bright – decadent, sumptuous, and totally sensual. Can you tell by all the superlatives how much I loved this tart? ๐Ÿ˜‰

The element which brought drama and a really natural beauty to the tart were the flutters of sweet purple flowers adorning the top. My local supermarket sells edible flowers in a little packet – all different colours and they are beautiful. I picked out the purple ones – pansies I think – and together, they made for a stunningly lovely presentation. You can find information on edible flowers at the Cook’s Thesaurus and also some very pretty photographs here and here. Flowers are a wonderful way to make food look visually appealing and beautiful, and after this result, I definitely need to start using them more often!

This tart will serve 10 – 12 people. Its very rich, so you dont need huge slices.

Pistachio Crust

  • 1 cup whole pistachios
  • 2 tbsp powdered/icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp flour (plus additional if needed)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cold butter
  • 1 egg + 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Using a coffee grinder, processor, your immersion blender – or even a plastic back and a rolling pin to smack them into submission! – grind and pulverise the pistachios with the powdered sugar. The sugar will ensure that the nuts dont go over into a paste – but watch them carefully. I usually grind the pistachios in two batches of 1/2 cup each plus 1 tbsp of powdered sugar.

Put the ground pistachios and sugar into a bowl. Add the flour and salt and toss to combine. Grate the cold butter over the pistachio mixture, and using the tips of your fingers, combine very gently. You could even use a fork left in the fridge to mix everything up. This mixture can be exceedingly delicate so be careful!

Beat the 1 egg and vanilla together, and add to the pistachio-butter mixture. Combine gently and quickly until the mixture comes together into a dough. If its really sticky, add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time until it comes together, but be gentle and work quickly.

Shape the dough into a ball, and refrigerate, covered for at least half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 175 C (350F). I used a 11″ tart pan with a detachable base and non stick surface for this tart. If your tart pan is not non-stick (and really, it should be if it has a detachable base), butter the pan well. Remove the dough from the fridge, and centre it on a the tart pan. Using your fingers, quickly spread and knead and push and prod the dough so it completely covers the pan. Line the tart with parchment/baking paper, and pour in some pie weights. I use dried beans – theyre much cheaper, and they work just as well!

Bake your tart for about 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the baking paper and pie weights/beans, and place the tart crust back into the oven for a further 5 minutes or so, or until the shell has lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 3 minutes or so. Whisk the egg white with a fork in a small cup or bowl. Brush the interior of the shell with the egg white. This is a great trick to ensure that the tart crust is “water proof” and does not become soggy when you add the pastry cream!

Set aside to cool completely before assembly.

You can make the tart crust up to 1 day in advance, and store in the fridge, covered until needed.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups cream
  • About 150 grams (1 1/2 small slab bars) best quality bittersweet chocolate – I used Lindt, broken into pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt until well combined. Whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a small bowl, and whisk into the sugar-flour mixture until you get a smooth paste.

Place the saucepan over medium low heat, and bring slowly to the boil, whisking all the while. This will take you about 10 minutes – about 5 minutes into this time, stick your thumb in the mixture. It should be like quite hot bathwater. Add the chocolate now, and continue whisking for a further 5 minutes or so. The mixture will start to steam, and bubble, and will have become noticeably thicker.

Check that the mixture will hold a line when it coats the back of a spoon and you run your finger through it. If not, continue to cook for a few minutes further, whisking all the while. It should not take that long to get there, so be vigilant! And remember, the pastry cream will thicken as it cools, so the consistency at which you take it off the stove is not the consistency it will be when you finally assemble the tart!

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve, and allow to cool to room temperature.

The pastry cream can be made up to 2 days in advance, and stored, covered (with parchment paper spread over the surface for preference), in the refrigerator until needed.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream – 2 tbsp of cream removed from this amount
  • 1 1/2 tsp agar agar
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split, and beans scraped – or 1 tbsp vanilla essence/paste

Measure out 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. From this amount, measure out 2 tbsp, and remove to a small bowl. Sprinkle agar agar over the 2 tbsp of cream, and set aside for a few minutes to allow the agar agar to dissolve into the cream.

Whisk the remaining cream (by hand if youre macho – with a stand mixer or handheld electric beaters if youre me!) until it just begins to hold soft peaks. Add the reserved cream and agar agar mixture, the icing sugar and the vanilla, and whisk until the cream holds stiff peaks.

The agar agar will ensure that the cream holds its shape for about six hours.

I would prepare the whipped cream just before assembly.

Assembly

  • Pistachio Crust
  • Bittersweet Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • Raspberries – About 1 1/2 pints (1 1/2 small packets)
  • Pretty edible flowers for additional decoration (optional)

Place the tart crust/shell on a good working surface. For the kind of pretty decoration that I created here, I actually centered the crust (in pan) on a small lazy susan that I had from Ikea – this helped move the tart as I was placing raspberries and piping cream.

Pour in the bittersweet chocolate pastry cream, and using a palette knife or even a spoon, ensure that the pastry cream is evenly covering the tart shell, and is smoothed on top.

For this tart, I placed half the vanilla whipped cream into a piping bag with a small round tip (and topped it up when needed). If you want to get extra fancy, you could use a star tip, but that for me would be gilding the lily!

GorgeousPipe a border of whipped cream around the edge of the tart. Now take the raspberries, one at a time, and using the small tip, fill the raspberry with whipped cream, and pipe a small circle of cream at the opening of the raspberry. Place the raspberries onto the pastry cream in circles – working your way from outside in.

Once the tart has been covered with raspberries, begin placing the flowers. Pipe small circles of cream between the raspberries, working from inside out, and on each small circle of cream, place a single flower. You could cover the entire tart with raspberries and flowers, or, as I preferred to do, leave the outer edges with the decadent chocolate cream peeking out.

Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve. Assemble no more than 6 hours before consuming!

When you are ready to serve, remove the tart from the pan, leaving the bottom intact.

Enjoy the pleasures of this most lovely of desserts.

White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

10 Sep

Raspberry TartToday is a day of celebration – it is the end of the Ramadan and the Rosh Hashanah. Two very intertwined religions, and their holidays. Well, on a day like today, you just have to celebrate. So I came up with this vegetarian (but unfortunately not vegan) white chocolate raspberry tart. The pastry cream was imbued with the rich lusciousness of white chocolate, such a perfect match for tart sweet bright raspberries. I dont usually do fruit with chocolate, but this is the exception that proves the rule.

This is a phenomenal tart. And I can say that because I have made some pretty damn brilliant tarts in my day…. but this one. It was so very good. The pastry crust was like a sugar cookie – dense, buttery, flaky and scented with vanilla. The pastry cream was literally stuffed full of Callebaut white chocolate. It was so creamy, it was sinful … but the great thing about it for me was that it looked like any garden variety vanilla pastry cream. It was only upon tasting that the ambrosial flavour of white chocolate made itself known. I adore good surprises like that! And the organic raspberries were the perfect counterpoint – tart and bursting with last of the summer sunshine, they made the white chocolate cream even more chocolate-y. This was one of my best tarts by far. ย And the best part was seeing family eat it so happily on this most family of celebration nights… BSA’s son was surprised I made it from scratch ๐Ÿ˜‰ It takes quite something to impress a 13 year old, so I was happy. Heh.

I put this tart together in literally half an hour (not including the wait times for baking and cooling off). Baking the pastry took very little time – but you need to make sure its baked through, because once it comes out of the oven, there is no more baking to do. I didnt bake it blind – I just made sure I poked tons of holes in it with my fork. It shrunk a bit, but I baked it in a 9 3/4″ spring form pan, so a little shrinkage was okay. The pastry cream took minutes to make, and about 20 minutes to cool in the fridge. Putting raspberries on top wasnt really work … but it was fun! I was actually a little shocked at how easy it was to make this tart – the return was so big, that I should have slaved for hours on it. It was a joy to present something so decadent and yet so easy to make.

Start at least 2 – 3 hours before you plan to serve this tart (or the day before) as you do want it to set up in the fridge.

Serves 8 people

Sweet pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (all purpose is fine, but if you have pastry flour, use that)
  • 1/4 cup sugar – I used powdered sugar, which I find gives a finer result
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tbsp vanilla essence

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Use a fork and make sure it is all combined.

Grate the butter over the flour mixture, and using your fingers, toss to combine well. You should have oatmeal flakes of butter within the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, or cup, beat together the egg and the vanilla essence. Use more vanilla essence if you think your essence isnt very strong or flavourful.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, and using your hands, knead to combine. You should have quite a soft dough.

Tip the dough out onto a clean surface, and knead two or three times to get it soft and pliable. Using the heel of your palm, smear the dough away from you. This will spread the frozen butter in thin layers throughout the dough. Do this two or three times.

Roll the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, and refrigerate for ten minutes or so to let it all just come together.

Preheat the oven to 175C (350F). Have a pie tin, or a spring form cake pan (I used a 9 3/4″ pan) ready.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and tip it out onto a clean surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thick, or to fit your pan.

The dough should be malleable enough, and yet cold enough, so it wont stick to the surface, or to your rolling pin. If it sticks, it has not sat in the fridge long enough, so put it back for a few minutes.

Once you have rolled out the dough to your liking, roll it onto your rolling pin, and centre it over your pan. Place it gently in the pan, and using your fingers, make sure all the edges are even. My spring form pan had very high edges, so I just folded the dough over and crimped it to come up about half way up the pan. It worked out fine!

Put the dough back into the fridge for five minutes or so to get over being rolled and prodded! This is an important step so dont forget it!

Once you take the unbaked crust out of the fridge, poke multiple holes in it with the tines of a fork. Dont forget to go up the sides!

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or so, or until completely baked through and very lightly tan in the centre. You will know if its baked fully or not by the texture of the crust. If its soft, malleable, it has not baked long enough. If its firm, and solid feeling, its fully cooked. Decide on how brown you want it – for this delicate tart, I decided to let it barely get a blush of bronze.

Set aside to cool.

White Chocolate Pastry Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used lowfat)
  • 1 + 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup best quality white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 egg yolks

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, 1 tbsp vanilla and white chocolate over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the white chocolate melts.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar, flour and cornflour together very well with a whisk. Add the further 1 tbsp vanilla and the egg yolks, and whisk extremely well until everything is thoroughly combined.

When the milk is quite hot, take about 1/4 cup of milk, and add it to the egg mixture. Whisk very well. Turn the heat up on the milk mixture, and allow to just come to the boil. Add all the egg mixture at once, and turn the heat down. Stir until very thick.

If you are worried that the pastry cream is lumpy, you can sieve it, but its usually unnecessary as long as you have whisked the ingredients together very well at each stage.

Put aside to cool, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Assembly

  • Cooled crust
  • White Chocolate Pastry Cream
  • About 2 cups fresh raspberries, lightly rinsed if needed

CelebrationPour the pastry cream into the crust. Arrange the raspberries on top in a pretty pattern (I usually just make rings but do as your heart desires). Refrigerate for at least 1 – 2 hours.

If you are making this tart the night before, prepare all the elements separately, and assemble them together a few hours before serving.

Serve and Celebrate!