15 August 2012

Recently: Fresh Strawberry and Marshmallow Tarte

So as of last night, I've been added to the blogroll of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild (of which I am now a member).  I'm not sure how many of the members actually read blogs, but I figure I should start back to providing actual content in this here space.  So first a few catchup posts.

I started this blog with a vague sense of recording domestic-y things, and most importantly, a desire to participate in the now-completed "Tuesdays with Dorie" project, a years-long bakealong that took I don't know how many home bakers across the US and the world through Dorie Greenspan's Baking:  From My Home to Yours.  When I started with TWD, I was home full-time, on a year-long research fellowship in rural Pennsylvania.  I needed something fun and fulfilling to do on a regular basis to focus on and to distract me from all the other tomfoolery going on (or not going on, as the case may be) in my life, and Tuesdays with Dorie was it for me.  The year ended, and I was fortunate to land another position, but this position is a full-time office based job, and I now live in an apartment with a small, dark kitchen, no air conditioning, and little cabinet space.  It became hard to keep up with the recipes, but I tried to bake and post whenever I could, and so limped on till the project was over.  The group began a new book when we completed Baking..., but I knew I couldn't commit to the new book, which had even more ambitious recipes than this one, so I very reluctantly decided to bow out.

So without that, I didn't really have much I wanted to share.  I share my successfully completed sewing projects on Facebook.  I haven't been baking very much and haven't done a proper decorated cake in about 2 years (though I did do up some cookies for a bake sale last fall).  I don't think my baking will increase much, at least until I get a kitchen more amenable to it, but occasionally I am commissioned to do something, and that leads me to today's project.

I was invited to a Bastille Day party last month, and decided after some thought that I wanted to bring something very French.  Enter this tart from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets cookbook--her version of a tart served at Laduree, the famous Parisian bakery and tearoom. I spent a few days slowly putting it together, but it restored my faith in my baking abilities.

First, I made a vanilla bean creme patisserie.  There is a local dairy that sells milk at outrageously low prices, and they have this product I've never seen anywhere before:   superrich (richer than whole milk!) milk.

It is the BEST for making milky things like custards, pastry creams, rice pudding, and so on.  I only wish it came in quarts--I cannot bring myself to drink it--but at $1.99 a half-gallon I suppose I cannot complain much. 

The cream was easy enough to make--standard pastry cream.  In addition to the milk, it also had a nice quantity of butter to be mixed in.  Yay calcium!

vanilla bean cream with its first addition of butter

This went in the fridge while I set about making the strawberry-orangeflower marshmallows.
I've made marshmallows once before, a few years ago.  I remember being pleasantly surprised at how easy they are--really, the mixer does all the work for you--

make sugar syrup

whip up egg whites and add sugar syrup and gelatin to make meringue

fold in flavorings--here I used strawberry puree I found in the Latino frozen foods aisle, and orange-flower water

spread out in a pan and let cool for a day.
--but thinking they were too sweet.  This time, per Dorie's instructions, I dusted them with potato starch instead of powdered sugar.  This helped.  However, they developed a weird gelatinous layer at the bottom that I had to slice off.  It was pretty humid out, so I think the weather was not in my favor, but everyone said they liked them, even when I brought the extras to work a couple days later. 

Now on to the shell.  I've used Dorie's recipe for years now, so I always go to it--it rarely fails me.  It's a delightful shortbready crust, and I use almond flour for part of the flour to give it a little extra yum.  You
basically dump everything in the food processor and blitz BRIEFLY, then pat out and freeze.  Then bake.

dough in processor

dough in buttered tin

all patted out!  I like to roll it out but it was too sticky (See:air conditioing, no) so I just went with it.)

cover with buttered foil and freeze

bake from the freezer.  Dorie says you don't need weights when you bake the crust from frozen, but I beg to differ--I've never gotten anything but headaches when I've tried it, so I always figure weighting doesn't hurt anything.

baked crust, ready to fill!  Mine shrunk a bit, but I don't care.  

 The day of the party, all I did was bake the crust and fill it.

I cut up the pretty pink marshmallow block.

I arranged the strawberries in a pan to get an idea of how to pack them in!

Fill the crust with the creme patisserie and spread over some of the berries, macerated with a bit of sugar and mashed.

Cram on halved berries and brush with redcurrant jam

Dot with marshmallows!

It was a hit at the party--so much so that I never got a chance to have any!  It also reminded me of how much I love tarts, so I made myself a lemon tart (my FAVORITE) the next week.  I'll have to see if I have pix of that...


Maura said...

um that looks amazing!!! And I'm glad you are posting again!

miss kate said...


Jessica said...

I just went to check on the CJMQG blog and saw that you posted - woo! This looks amazing!


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