I have a love / hate relationship with tarts. I adore how they look and taste. That you can fill them with anything from a pastry cream to a ganache (the stuff you make truffles with); they can be sweet or savory; and they come in so many different sizes and shapes. How adorable are mini individual tarts that you can just pop into your mouth? They are perfect for summer garden parties, any sort of baby / bridal shower, and I have no qualms about eating a boatload of them while watching a rom-com. Love. Them.
But whenever I’ve attempted to make the tart shell at home, I’m met with disastrous results. Alh my apartment hasn’t burned down or anything, but the shells are just a wreck. Tasteless, dry, cardboardy things that may as well be mini bowls for the filling and not much else. So when I saw the Summer Tarts class on the ICE class roster a few weeks ago, I immediately signed up. I mean here was a class being taught by an award winning chef (The James Beard award. Yea. THAT level of fancy), it covered one of my most dreaded topics, and I still had gift certificates that my awesome husband had given me as part of an anniversary presents years ago. Done.
Now all the pastry dough recipes I’ve used in the past, from my culinary go to sources like CIA and Martha Stewart, to the general blogoverse, have all had me cut in the butter to form the dough. The butter, flour, water, and everything else are chilled multiple times during the course of putting it all together to keep it at the right temperature before you bake it. And this is where the problem lies. I somehow overwork the butter so I’m left with a leaden tart shell not worth anything.
And then this class happened. Pate Sucree. A dough that comes together in almost no time at all (compared to the other dough and if you ignore the cooling time) and tastes just as delicious! Um. I’m sorry. What? Yes. Why didn’t I know about this before?? Apparently, a quick google search shows a million and one recipes using this technique, I was just an idiot for never finding it. And then add a fancy pastry cream like Basil Pastry Cream? Well hello there. I’m ready for a dinner party! The basil is subtle, just like it’s green tint, and when it’s paired with the blueberries, it somehow just works. The sweetness of the berries compliment it just right, and there’s an aftertaste of not so sweet freshness. It’s really quite lovely. Try it and let me know what you guys think.
- 250g unsalted butter
- 175g sugar
- 40g almond flour
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 400g all purpose flour
- 1g baking powder
- 15g water
- Cream together butter, sugar, and almond flour
- Slowly add the egg, and egg yolk and mix. Scrape down the bowl.
- Add flour and baking power, mixing until thoroughly combined, adding water as needed to help the dough come together.
- Pat the dough into a square, wrap in plastic wrap, and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch and press into whichever pan you are using.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool in pan.
The Basil Pastry Cream recipe is further down in the post
FOR THE BASIL PASTRY CREAM —
Handful of basil leaves (about 10 large leaves)
1 batch of your favorite pastry cream, or use my recipe from here
Boil about 4 cups of water in a small pot
Add basil leaves to a sieve and plunge into the hot water for no more than 4-5 minutes. Reserve the water.
Immediate remove leaves and dunk them into ice cold water
(The above steps are known as ‘blanching’)
Puree the basil leaves in a blender with a tablespoon or two of the reserved water. Keep pulsing until you have a mostly smooth paste.
Add basil puree to pastry cream, and mix. Strain mixture through a sieve to remove extra basil bits.
Pour cooled pastry cream into tart shell and smooth.
Top with fresh blueberries and powdered sugar