Tarts! Eaux, how I do love them so. I was very excited about this week's recipe. Nothing new to see here, but it gave me an opportunity to work on some things we've made several times before: tart shells and pastry cream. Still in the middle of traveling, so mini tarts it was.
I gave Yellow Processor one more try with the tart shell dough. I finally figured out: metal blade ONLY for the processor when making dough.
Now if I can just figure out how to keep the blasted thing from coughing up flour...
I used half the dough and made four tart shells, rolling them out insead of pressing them into the pans. Rolling circles on silicone and then fitting them into the pans works *so* much better for me.
For the pastry cream, I had a mind to do something different from the usual vanilla. Originally, I thought I would do the ginger pastry cream from the cookbook, but at the last minute I had two ideas for variations. I couldn't decide between them, so I made both in half batches.
1. St. Germain pastry cream
I happened upon a minibottle of St. Germain for the first time last week in Nashville, where a very nice, very knowledgeable, and very cute clerk was helping me spend too much money on red wine. It looked interesting--I'm a sucker for a pretty Art Deco piece of frippery--so I bought it. The tag on the bottle said something about "elderflower" and "hints of citrus." Ok. I don't really know what elderflower tastes like, but it sounds like something that would go well with blackberries, so I decide to try it. I open the bottle and take a tiny sip and SWEET NECTAR OF THE GODS WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE. I had to put the bottle down and leave the kitchen. It is that delicious.
I followed Dorie's instructions for "liqueur scented pastry cream," adding about 2 teaspoons to the cream. It came out very light and smooth and bright yellow.
2) Madagascar Vanilla Tea pastry cream
I kind of got this idea from Dorie. The Paris Sweets book has two recipes for tea-flavored tarts, one vanilla and one darjeeling. Neither is made with pastry cream--if I recall correctly they are baked custardy tarts--but why can't I make pastry cream that tastes like tea, I thought? I have a ton of teas that I buy loose from A Southern Season--one of my little extravagances is that I order all my teas from there. I have at least twelve varieties right now. I decided the Madagascar Vanilla was the safest bet to go along with fruit, though I thought hard about the Jasmine Black.
I decided the best thing to do would be to infuse the tea flavor by steeping the leaves in the milk as it heated and boiled. I put a couple teaspoons into a tea ball, poured over the milk (in this case, a blend of whole, skim, and half and half) and let it go.
It was nice and dark when it got to a boil, and the resulting cream is caramel brown, deeply, aromatically infused with the vanilla black tea. It's deep and complex and rich compared to the St.Germain cream's airy brightness.
For testing, I decided to try both flavors with the berries and jam.
My pigginess only goes so far, so I combined both flavors in one tart, topped with berries, and glazed them with my favorite jam: a spiced ginger marmalade.
Both are fabulous. The berries, though not at their very sweetest yet, went well with each flavor, as did the plain shortbread crust. I had a tart the next day with just the tea cream and whipped cream and that was awfully tasty too. I think it would also be sensational with some sort of streusel, such as that on Dorie's darjeeling tart. The St. Germain tart filling tastes like a very pleasant vanilla at first and then the St. Germain hits you at the end. YUM. It's light and fruity and delicious with the blackberries. I noticed that the St. Germain flavor seemed to fade after a day or so, so next time I will be less dainty and light-handed and just slug some in. That one I think would go well with any number of fruits.
Today's thankyuhvurymuch for choosing this week's recipe goes out to Cristine. Hat tip to ya!