Men have to be the least organized people on the planet. Period. After asking twenty times (so much so that it had definitely become nagging) I still wasn’t getting a solid answer about what I should bring to Joey’s friend’s barbecue yesterday. My go to dishes are always desserts, so that’s what I made. Little did I know that there was already a hefty supply of desserts on hand. Oh well. These tartlets were a big hit. Everyone seemed to like them.
But seriously – what’s not to like about a sweet pastry crust filled with strawberries and topped with a calorie busting, vanilla flecked creme anglaise?
Strawberries & Cream Tartlets
Sweet Pastry Crust
Adapted from Another Cup of Sugar by Anna Olson
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy – about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolks and egg one at a time – beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour & salt and mix until the dough starts to form a ball.
Tip the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press gently until the dough starts to form a disc. Wrap tightly and chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Knead the dough a few times to get the butter warmed up and prevent the dough from cracking. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 cm (1/4in) on a lightly floured counter and cut it into 6 – 7 cm (2 1/2 – 3in) circles. Place the circles of dough into small tart shells. Reroll the dough as necessary until you’ve filled all 24 shells.
Using a fork or a toothpick, poke holes into the bottom and sides of each of the tart shells. Put them in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up. Bake them for 15-18 minutes, until the edges of the shells are starting to get a golden colour. Let them cool completely before filling.
700g (1 1/2lb) strawberries – hulled and cut into quarters
115g (1/4lb) rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
In a large bowl combine the strawberries and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, but preferable overnight. In a separate bowl, combine the rhubarb with the out 1/2 cup of sugar and refrigerate for the same amount of time as the strawberries.
In a small non-reactive pot, combine the strawberries, rhubarb (plus all of their juices and any remaining sugar), the lemon juice & zest. Cook over medium low heat for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the strawberries have thickened and look like jam. Be sure to skim off any bits of foam that come to the surface so you have a clear filling. Let the filling cool completely before filling the tart shells.
Any left over filling can be spread on toast – since this is essentially a pectin free jam.
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
In a medium sauce pan, combine the milk, cream, vanilla bean seeds and pod. Cook over medium heat until bubbles start to form at the edges – about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is a pale yellow colour.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the cream/milk mixture and slowly pour it into the eggs. Make sure that you’re stirring constantly with a wooden spoon – you don’t want the scramble the eggs. Once the eggs and cream are mixed together, pour it back into the sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture leaves a clean path when you trace your finger over the back of the spoon.
Pour the cream into a small bowl and set it into a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally as it’s cooling. Take the cream out of the ice bath and cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap touches the entire surface of the creme anglaise, so you don’t end up with a skin on top. Cool in the fridge for at least an hour.
To assemble the tarts:
Fill the bottom of each tart shell with a generous spoonful of the strawberries. Top that with a spoonful of the creme anglaise. Finish each start with a piece of strawberry.