Last Monday, when the Rocking Rebel and I were doing our weekly grocery shopping, I noticed the strawberries had changed. They were no longer the gorgeously round, small strawberries that always pop up at the end of spring here in the Netherlands. No, they were pointy! Still gorgeous and delicious, but pointy! And that can only mean one thing… The farmers are down to their late-summer bearing varieties.
NOOOOO! (Drama intended).
So before strawberry season ends, I wanted to share this tart with you. I made it for my mother’s birthday party early in July and everyone loved it! In fact, I made it again two days later, because, well… I just couldn’t resist!
Besides, strawberry season is coming to an end, dude! Live is all about opportunities!
So while I had originally planned to post about my brother-in-law’s birthday cake first – since he has his birthday two days before my mom has hers – now that the end of strawberry season is approaching, I feel I can’t keep this beauty from you any longer.
So give it a go while you still can!
First, roll yourself a big rectangle out of puff pastry. My puff pastry came in little squares, so I simply placed them in a rectangle, edges overlapping, and rolled down on the seams. Easy peasy…
Next, cut little pastry strips and stack them all around the edges of the rectangular base. Then prick the entire base – so the center of the tart – with a fork. You really want to prick it good, as the little holes will prevent the center of the base from puffing up, allowing you to fill it with something delicious later.
Once the pastry is all pricked, pop it in the oven for 11 minutes…
Then take it out again, brush it with egg white and dust it with some powdered sugar. Then bake for another few minutes so the sugar can caramelize. This will ensure your shell won’t become soggy once you put the filling in.
And yes, that’s a tea egg…
See? Beautifully golden-brown and caramelized…
Just the way I like it…
And don’t mind the un-caramelized sugar… I guess my dusting was more of a sprinkling after all…
Anyway, leave the shell to cool while you proceed with the Crème Suisse.
Crème Suisse is basically the fancy term for ‘pastry cream lightened with whipped cream’, so start by cooking up some pastry cream! Instead of using a combination of milk and cream, I’ve only used milk in this particular batch of pastry cream, as I was going to ‘lighten’ it with cream later.
And we all know there’s no such thing as ‘lightening’ with cream… Unless you’re ‘lightening’ butter maybe…
And I’ve said it before and I will say it again… I LOVE pastry cream!
After you’ve made it, allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature before you start lightening it, otherwise the whipped cream will melt right back down again. Because I was going to use this crème Suisse in a tart, I also wanted to throw some gelatin in there so the tart wouldn’t become a big, delicious mess once I cut into it…
I just won’t do for a fancy birthday tart, you know!
But start by whipping up some cream.
But it’s whipped cream up there… Trust me!
Once the cream is whipped, heat up another splash of cream and dissolve the gelatin in it.
Mix the gelatin mixture into the cooled pastry cream…
… and fold in the whipped cream. The end result should be dreamy and perfect!
Fill the pastry shell with the crème Suisse, leave to set in the fridge for three hours, then wash and hull some beautiful strawberries…
Cover the tart with them beauties, add a dusting of powdered sugar with your versatile tea-egg, and…
… dig in!
This is some seriously good stuff!
- 500g (or 1 pound and 1 ounce) frozen, store-bought (or home-made) puff pastry
- flour for dusting
- egg wash (optional)
- 1 egg white
- 50g (or ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon) powdered sugar
- 480ml (or 2 cups) whole milk
- ¾ vanilla bean
- 80g (or ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 40g (or ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon) custard powder or cornstarch
- 4 large egg yolks
- 20g (or 5 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- enough gelatin to set 250ml of liquid
- 200ml (or ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) heavy whipping cream
- 500g (or about 1 pound) small strawberries, washed and hulled
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/430°F (standard oven setting). Thaw frozen puff pastry according to the directions on the package.
- NOTE: mind that store-bought puff pastry comes in a lot of different shapes or sizes, so take a good look at the pastry you want to use for this recipe before you start rolling it into shape. If it's cut into little squares or rectangles, this may save you a lot of rolling.
- Dust your countertop and rolling pin with flour and roll half of the pastry into a 30cmx24cm (or 12-inchx9-inch) rectangle. The pastry should be about 3mm (one-tenth of an inch) thick. Place the rectangle on a baking sheet.
- NOTE: if your puff pastry comes in small squares like mine did, simply place the desired amount of squares on your countertop, making sure they slightly overlap each other, and roll the seams down with your rolling pin.
- Roll out the remaining pastry until it's about 3mm (one-tenth of an inch) thick. Using a sharp knife, cut straight 1,5-cm (half-inch) strips. Gently press and stack the pastry slices along the edges of the rectangular pastry sheet, until each edge is stacked with 4 extra layers of pastry.
- NOTE: if your pastry is less sticky than mine, you may want to use a bit of egg wash (one egg and a tbsp of water mixed together) to stick the pastry sheets together.
- Prick the base of the pastry shell with a fork. You literally want fork pricks covering the entire center of the shell as this will prevent the center to rise in the oven while the edges puff up. Bake the pastry shell for 11 minutes, then take it out of the oven. Brush the entire top of the pastry shell (center and edges) with egg white and dust with powdered sugar. Bake for an additional 4 minutes or until golden brown and caramelized. Take out of the oven and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Combine the milk, the vanilla bean and 80g of sugar in a small saucepan. In a small bowl, stir together the custard powder (or cornstarch) with a little splash of milk. It should turn into a smooth paste. Add a little more milk to make it fairly liquid. Add the yolks and 20g of sugar and whisk until frothy and well combined. Over low heat, gently heat the milk mixture until scalding.
- Take the milk off the heat and drizzle it into the cornstarch and egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and gently heat over medium-high heat, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens into pastry cream. Transfer the hot pastry cream to a heatproof bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool to room temperature.
- Once both the pastry cream and pastry shell have come to room temperature, soften the gelatin according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you're using sheet gelatin like I did, this means soaking it in cold water for 10 minutes. Pour a splash of cream into a clean saucepan (cover the bottom) and whip the remaining cream to soft peaks. Gently heat the splash of cream until it's hot to the touch. Take it off the heat and add the gelatin (if you're using sheet gelatin, squeeze out the excess water first). Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
- NOTE: if the gelatin doesn't dissolve properly, carefully heat the mixture over low heat until it does.
- Mix together the pastry cream and the gelatin-cream mixture. Once combined, fold in the whipped cream with a rubber spatula. You now have Crème Suisse! Pour the crème Suisse into the cooled pastry shell and place in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.
- Decorate as desired with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. This tart is best enjoyed as soon as the crème Suisse has set!