A strawberry tart is a terrific way to showcase the fresh ripe strawberries that are in season right now. Combined with a rich vanilla pastry cream and crisp crust made with pine nuts, the strawberries are the perfect crowning jewel to this stunningly simple treat.
The Pine Nut Crust is from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook and makes enough dough for three tarts. There is really no way to reduce the recipe so just save the rest of the dough in the freezer for later use.
The pastry cream is smooth and delicious and just firm enough to stand up to the strawberries that are piled on top. You can make the pastry cream a few days in advance and just whip with a whisk before using.
Here is how you can make your own:
Strawberries: You will need approximately 3 to 4 cups of fresh ripe strawberries, washed, dried and sliced. Set aside.
Pine Nut Crust: You can find the entire recipe here. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Chill one portion and freeze the other two for later use.
Chill a 9″ tart pan in the fridge until very cold. Press the chilled dough into the chilled tart pan or you can do what I did and roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap to around 1/8″ thick.
Carefully transfer dough to tart pan and press firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. This dough is really fragile and kind of hard to work with but it tastes so good that it’s worth the effort!
After dough is in the tart pan I like to wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it overnight or for a least an hour. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cover the frozen crust with aluminum foil sprayed with Pam for Baking and fill with pie weights. When working with this dough i’ve come to realize that weighing down the crust while its baking helps to insure that the sides and bottom stay flush and don’t shrink.
Bake the frozen tart for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully take off the foil and pie weights. Place the tart back into the oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown.
If the edges seem to be getting a little too brown, place a pie shield over the edge. This adjustable silicon pie shield that my dad got me is terrific!
Remove tart from oven and let cool on wire rack while you make the pastry cream.
Pastry Cream: You can find the entire recipe here. This pastry cream is the perfect creamy vanilla base for the juicy ripe strawberries!
Start by bringing the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover the pan and turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
In another medium saucepan whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until thick and pale. While whisking, add a little of the hot milk into the yolks. Continue whisking and add the remaining hot milk.
Put the pot over medium heat and while whisking vigorously without stopping, bring the mixture to a boil. Continue whisking for another 1 or 2 minutes then remove from heat.
At this point I pressed the mixture thru a strainer into a bowl. The recipe doesn’t call for it but I find that this helps create a very velvety smooth pastry cream.
Allow the pastry cream to cool for around three minutes then stir in the vanilla extract and the chunks of butter. Stir until all the butter is melted and incorporated into the pastry cream.
At this point the pastry cream needs to be chilled. Cover the top of the pastry cream with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly before using. If chilling overnight, make sure to whip with whisk before using.
Assembly: Pour the chilled pastry cream into the crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Arrange the strawberry slices on top of the pastry cream.
Keep tart chilled until ready to serve.