When we were designing our spring dessert menu recently we came up with this French inspired creation. The combination of sweet-tart strawberries and pistachio pastry cream is heavenly and the colors are really beautiful together too. Decorating the tart with strawberries isn’t hard, and it always produces great results.
Total Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 1 hour
Serves 8 to 10
Special Equipment: 10-inch fluted tart shell with removable bottom
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ sticks (¾ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water (roughly)
Pistachio Pastry Cream
1½ cups finely ground pistachios
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons almond extract
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 10-oz containers strawberries, tops trimmed off, thinly sliced
¼ cup honey
Mint sprigs for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Put flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. If you don’t have a food processor, whisk the flour and remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter and pulse until mixture is the texture of small pebbles (if using your fingers, blend the butter and flour mixture until a moist crumb forms). Whisk the yolks, vanilla and ice water together and add it to the food processor. Pulse again until the dough just comes together. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed gently once or twice, until the dough and crumbs are combined. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Roll dough into a 12-inch circle and transfer to the tart pan. Press dough evenly into the pan and up the sides. Trim any excess dough from the edge and, using a fork, prick the bottom of the shell many times. Reserve any remaining dough for another use. Chill tart shell in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Line the shell with parchment paper or tin foil and add baking beans.
Bake tart until shell is golden at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and cook the shell for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until bottom is lightly golden and cooked through. Cool.
Pistachio Pastry Cream
Whisk the pistachios, whole milk, heavy cream and ¼ cup sugar together in a saucepan until steaming. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes. In the mean time, whisk the remaining sugar, salt, egg yolks and cornstarch together in a bowl until pale yellow. Bring the pistachio cream back to a simmer over low heat and then gently whisk it into the egg mixture in the bowl. Return the whole mixture back to the saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking consistently so that clumps don’t form. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
Place a sieve over a bowl and strain the pastry cream through it, pressing on the sieve with a rubber spatula to push the pastry cream through. Whisk in the crème fraîche or sour cream and cool slightly. Transfer the pastry cream to the tart shell, spreading it evenly.
Top the tart with strawberry slices, beginning at the outer edge with the tips facing out. Layer the slices in a fish scale pattern, overlapping each layer. Heat the honey in a small saucepan over low heat until loose. Brush a light layer of the honey over the strawberries and garnish with a mint sprig.