Blood Orange Earl Grey Tarts: little pâte brisée tart shells filled with earl grey pastry cream and topped with blood orange segments and crushed pistachios.
I am currently reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari, and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Three completely different stories, ranging from serious and thought provoking to light-hearted fun romantic comedy. Over the years I have learned that I can’t just read one book at a time. I get way too wrapped up and involved when I pour all my attention into one story. (Mind you, I tear up when I see Subaru commercials with dogs and those mini stories don’t last for more than 30 seconds!) I need a balance, otherwise, I go haywire (either I’m super mopey or grinning ear to ear).
This need for balance extends to desserts. A scoop of ice cream is great on its own, but it is even better when served on a chocolate dipped waffle cone. I could easily eat pastry cream by the pint, but you know what? It becomes even tastier when paired with a buttery crust and fresh fruit. Example: these blood orange earl grey tarts.
I have a slight obsession with fruit tarts. The balance of the crunchy crust, silky pastry cream filling, and sweet fresh fruits is undeniably perfect. When strawberries are in season, I am known to make this strawberry tart with vanilla pastry cream weekly.
In my opinion, blood oranges are the prettiest winter fruit. It’s so exciting slicing into a blood orange anticipating the vibrant reds and deep purples you find inside. I paired the segmented oranges with an earl grey infused pastry cream because they’re soul mates. Proof: Earl grey tea is a blend of black tea and oil of Bergamot orange.
This pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry) dough is very simple to make and it’s a breeze to work with. You start by creaming together the butter, sugar, and egg. Then you add the flour and mix it until it looks shaggy and crumbly like the photo above. Dump the mixture onto a clean work surface and press the pieces together until it forms a cohesive dough.
Unlike other tart or pie doughs, this pâte brisée dough is super forgiving. Since it does not contain any leavening agents (ie baking soda, baking powder) and the butter is creamed, the dough can be rolled out multiple times without affecting its quality. However, you’ll still need to dock the dock before baking as air does get trapped inside the dough during rolling/mixing. If you’re terrified of rolling out dough, you can also take pieces of this pâte brisée and simply press it into the tart mold.
These blood orange earl grey tarts are best eaten the day they are assembled. Over time the oranges will cause the pastry cream to weep and separate. All the components can be prepared ahead of time and held until assembly time. Once you’re ready to enjoy these delectable little tarts, grab your favorite book and plop on the couch!
P.S. If you love to read, check out OverDrive. You can use your local library card to check out e-books online and have them delivered to your Kindle, iPad, etc (for free!).
Blood Orange Earl Grey Tarts
Yield: makes six 5-inch tarts
- 1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp (1 g) fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cup (190 g) unsifted cake flour
Earl Grey Pastry Cream:
- 2 cups (240 ml) whole milk
- 3 single serving earl grey tea bags (or 6 grams loose earl grey tea)
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (28 g) cornstarch
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 5 small blood oranges, segmented
- 1/3 cup shelled roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium speed. Mix until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing.
- Add the yolk and continue to mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add all the flour and mix on low speed until the dough is crumbly, about 30-45 seconds.
- Dump mixture onto a clean work surface and press contents together until it forms a cohesive dough. Press dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 6 parts. Working with once piece at a time, roll dough out into an even layer about 1/4-inch thick and about 1/2-inch larger than the 5-inch tart pan. Gently lift dough and position it over the tart pan. Using your fingertips, gently press dough against the sides and bottom of the pan. Use a knife or mini offset spatula to trim the overhang over the edge of the pan. Repeat with remaining pieces. If the dough happens to tear, simply repair the tear by pressing additional dough into the hole.
- Use a fork to dock holes on the bottom of the dough. Bake tart shells in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the dough is golden brown throughout. Let the crust cool in pan for 5 minutes before unmolding. Allow crusts to cool to room temperature on wire rack.
Earl Grey Pastry Cream:
- Pour milk into a large heavy bottomed sauce pot. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Add tea and cover pot. Allow tea to steep for 30 minutes. Strain and discard tea bags/leaves.
- Line a half-sheet baking pan with plastic wrap, making sure the sides of the pan are covered. Set aside.
- Place tea flavored milk over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks.
- Once milk is almost at a boil lower heat, slowly add milk to egg mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk as you add milk to distribute the heat. Continue to add milk until there are only a couple tablespoons of milk left in the sauce pot. Pour all the egg-milk mixture back into the sauce pot.
- Reduce to medium-heat. Using a spatula, constantly whisk the mixture until the custard has thickened. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot often to ensure it does it burn. Allow mixture to bubble and boil for 15 seconds to cook out cornstarch. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir until smooth.
- Pour the hot pastry cream into the prepared plastic wrap sheet pan. Spread evenly. Place plastic wrap directly over pastry cream and freeze for 10-15 minutes until the pastry cream has cooled to room temperature. Remove from freezer and transfer pastry cream to an airtight container. Cover with plastic wrap, allowing plastic wrap make contact with pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to use.
- Refresh chilled pastry cream by giving it a good whisk. Scoop about 1/3 cup of pastry cream into each tart shell. Spread into an even layer. Arrange orange segments over pastry cream. Sprinkle crushed pistachios over oranges. Serve immediately.
- NOTE: Recipe can also be used to make one 9-inch tart
- I use these 5-inch tart shells with removable bottoms
The Little Epicurean