Now and again a culinary challenge is a good thing! Maybe it’s “Masterchef season”, or just the inspiration of an early crop of local strawberries? I just couldn’t resist dusting off this recipe and going for it. I hope you will too, enjoy!
You will need 8 small 8 cm tart cases, fresh strawberries and apricot jam for glazing.
Rich Shortcrust Pastry
Easily made in a food processor, but also possible by hand, start by creaming the butter and icing sugar. Add the egg and salt, then flour and ground almond. Bring the pastry together and lightly knead by pressing the pastry with the heel of your hand. Flatten it to roughly 1” thickness which helps with even cooling and makes for easier rolling. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate, for at least one hour, preferably overnight.
Crème Patissière (this will make 800g, more than you’ll need, but it’s difficult to make less)
Vigorously whisk together the caster sugar and egg yolk until pale and thickened. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds from it, then add both the pod and seeds to the milk and bring to the boil. Remove the pod and allow the milk to cool slightly, pour it onto the egg yolk mixture, then back into the saucepan, on a low heat, continue to whisk energetically. As the cream cooks, the foam will begin to disappear, the cream will continue to thicken. Keep whisking! This process can take up to ten minutes, or longer depending on how brave you are with the heat, but eventually you will achieve a thick cream that sticks to a spoon. When the cream is thick, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.
Tip into a shallow dish or tray and allow to cool. This will keep chilled for up to 3 days.
To make the apricot glaze, boil a heaped tablespoon of the jam with a tablespoon of water.
To assemble the tarts…
Cut the pastry into approx. 80g balls and roll out each one then carefully lining the tart cases. Return to the chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Pipe a circle of the Crème Patissière into the pastry case and then bake for 25-30 minutes. When the tarts are baked, allow them to cool and then press them out of the rings. Cut the strawberries into halves and arrange them over the tart, finishing by brushing with the apricot glaze.