Strawberry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

This homemade strawberry tart features a crunchy sweet shortbread crust filled with vanilla pastry cream topped with sliced fresh strawberries. 

Strawberry Tart Fresh sweet strawberries.  Rich and luscious pastry cream.  Buttery shortbread tart shell.  A delicious combination of my dad’s favorites, a strawberry tart is perfect for his celebrating his 69th birthday.

An ode to my dad’s birthday:

Some dads are sports fanatics, some are into electronics and technology, others are chefs and grill masters, and then there is my dad who is the hardest person to shop for.  

He never wants to buy anything for himself and often uses the excuse that he doesn’t need anything.  My dad makes it his duty to simply provide and give to our family.

Since day one, my dad has been my hero. He has always been there whenever I needed him.  He picks me up whenever I fall, offers to take me shopping whenever I’m sad, and always has good movie and TV show recommendations.  

Somehow he manages to support me in both my crazy and sane endeavors. Regardless of whether my jokes are funny, he is ready to laugh. But most of all, he believes everything I ever cook or bake is 100 percent delicious. 

Strawberry Tart with pastry cream and shortbread crustFresh Strawberry Tart

It’s a good thing that strawberries have arrived a little early in Southern California this year.  I made this strawberry tart for my father’s birthday. Through this simple yet delicious dessert, I hope to show him how important he continues to be in our family.

We are forever grateful to him. Our lives are ever so sweet because of him!   

Strawberry Tart with pastry cream and shortbread crust

Strawberry Tart, adapted from Culinary Institute of America: Baking at Home

Tart Dough, makes 5- 4 inch tartlets or 1- 8 inch tart

Ingredients

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

Method

1.  In the bowl of 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.

2.  Add the yolk and continue to mix on medium speed until incorporated.  Add all the flour and mix on low until the dough is crumbly and moist- about 45 seconds.

IMG_7149

3.  Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and press dough together into a cohesive mass.  Press down until dough is about 1/2inch thick.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

4.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

5. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 5 equal parts.  Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough.  Roll it out into an even layer circle about 1/4” thick and about 1/2” larger than the tartlet pan.  Gently lift the dough and position it over the tartlet pan.  Using your fingertips, gently press the 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.

IMG_7151

6.  Use a dough docker or a fork to dock/punch holes in the bottom of the dough.  Bake tart shells in preheated oven until shell is a nice golden brown throughout- about 15-20 minutes.  Let the crust cool in pan for 5 minutes because unmolding and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream, makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (divide into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups whole milk (divide into 1 1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean split and scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Method

1.  Line a half-sheet baking pan with plastic wrap, make sure the sides of the tray are also covered.  Set aside.

2.  Pour 1 1/2 cup of milk into a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add salt and 1/2 cup sugar.  Whisk together.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally to make sure the milk does not burn along the sides or bottom of the pan.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar.  Add in remaining 1/2 cup of milk and yolks.  Whisk until smooth.

4. When the milk has boiled, slowly add a little bit of the milk into the egg mixture.  Whisk constantly to distribute the heat.  Continue to pour and whisk until only a couple tablespoons of milk are left the saucepan.  Then pour the egg-mik mixture back into the saucepan.

5.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until the custard has thickened. Keep whisking and let the custard come to a boil to cook the cornstarch out.  Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla and whisk until combined.

6. Pour the hot pastry cream into the prepared plastic wrapped sheet pan.  Spread evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 10-15 minutes until the pastry cream has cooled to room temperature. Remove from freezer and continue to cool in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly

Components

  • baked and cooled tart shells
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup melted white, milk, or dark chocolate (optional)
  • 2 cup pastry cream
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

Method

1. Heat the jam in saucepot over low heat until it is loose and warm.  Alternatively, microwave the jam.

2. Brush the bottoms of the tart shell with chocolate, if using.  This will help keep the bottom of the tart crispy and prevent it from getting soggy. Let chill in the freezer for a couple of minutes to harden chocolate.

3. Refresh the pastry cream by giving it a good whisk.  Using a small ice cream scooper, distribute pastry cream among the tart shells.  Spread into an even layer.

4.  Arrange the strawberries over the pastry cream.  Use a brush to lightly coat the strawberries with the warm jam.  Let the glaze set up in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or keep it covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Strawberry Tart with pastry cream and shortbread crust

Yield: makes five 4-inch tartlets or one 8-inch tart

Course Dessert
Author Maryanne Cabrera

Ingredients

Tart Dough:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temp
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cup cake flour

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cup whole milk, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, 1 vanilla pean split and scraped, or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Assembly Components:

  • cooled tart shells
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam
  • 1/4 cup melted white, milk, or dark chocolate, optional
  • 2 cup pastry cream
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

Instructions

Tart Dough:

  1. In the bowl of 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.

  2. Add the yolk and continue to mix on medium speed until incorporated.  Add all the flour and mix on low until the dough is crumbly and moist- about 45 seconds.

  3. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and press dough together into a cohesive mass.  Press down until dough is about 1/2inch thick.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  5. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 5 equal parts.  Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle a little flour on the top of the dough.  Roll it out into an even layer circle about 1/4” thick and about 1/2” larger than the tartlet pan.  Gently lift the dough and position it over the tartlet pan.  Using your fingertips, gently press the 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.

  6. Use a dough docker or a fork to dock/punch holes in the bottom of the dough.  Bake tart shells in preheated oven until shell is a nice golden brown throughout- about 15-20 minutes.  Let the crust cool in pan for 5 minutes because unmolding and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

Pastry Cream:

  1. Line a half-sheet baking pan with plastic wrap, make sure the sides of the tray are also covered.  Set aside.

  2. Pour 1 1/2 cup of milk into a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add salt and 1/2 cup sugar.  Whisk together.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally to make sure the milk does not burn along the sides or bottom of the pan.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar.  Add in remaining 1/2 cup of milk and yolks.  Whisk until smooth.

  4. When the milk has boiled, slowly add a little bit of the milk into the egg mixture.  Whisk constantly to distribute the heat.  Continue to pour and whisk until only a couple tablespoons of milk are left the saucepan.  Then pour the egg-mik mixture back into the saucepan.

  5. Whisk constantly over medium heat until the custard has thickened. Keep whisking and let the custard come to a boil to cook the cornstarch out.  Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, whisk until smooth.  Add vanilla and whisk until combined.

  6. Pour the hot pastry cream into the prepared plastic wrapped sheet pan.  Spread evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 10-15 minutes until the pastry cream has cooled to room temperature. Remove from freezer and continue to cool in refrigerator until ready to use.

Assembly:

  1. Heat the jam in saucepot over low heat until it is loose and warm.  Alternatively, microwave the jam.

  2. Brush the bottoms of the tart shell with chocolate, if using.  This will help keep the bottom of the tart crispy and prevent it from getting soggy. Let chill in the freezer for a couple of minutes to harden chocolate.

  3. Refresh the pastry cream by giving it a good whisk.  Using a small ice cream scooper, distribute pastry cream among the tart shells.  Spread into an even layer.

  4. Arrange the strawberries over the pastry cream.  Use a brush to lightly coat the strawberries with the warm jam.  Let the glaze set up in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.  Serve immediately or keep it covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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