The classic pastry cream is the standout element in these simple tarts. The graham cracker crust and fresh berry on top are there merely to accentuate the smooth, creamy texture of a well-made custard.
- 1 cup | 250 mL milk
- ½ | ½ vanilla bean, seeds only, or 1 ½ tsp (7 mL) vanilla bean paste
- 3 | 3 large egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp | 36 g granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp | 15 g cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp | 30 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup | 150 g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup | 125 g graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tsp | 16 g granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp | 1 g salt
- ½ cup | 115 g unsalted butter, melted
- 30 | 30 fresh strawberries, stems removed
- For the pastry cream, heat the milk with the vanilla bean seeds or paste in a medium saucepan over medium heat until just below a simmer.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch.
- Place the butter in a separate bowl, with a sieve resting over the bowl.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture and then return the mixture to the saucepan. Whisk this constantly (switching to a spatula now and again to get into the corners) over medium heat until thickened and glossy, about 2 minutes. Pour this immediately through the sieve, whisking it through if needed, and stir in the butter. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard, cool to room temperature, and then chill completely until ready to use.
- For the crust, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a mini muffin pan.
- Combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix until you have an even, crumbly texture. Spoon about 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the mixture into each muffin cup and press it into the bottom and all of the way up the sides of each muffin cup. Bake for 10 minutes, then cool in the pan on a cooling rack before filling.
- Use a skewer to gently remove each tart shell from the pan. Stir the pastry cream to soften, spoon or pipe the filling into each cup, and then arrange a strawberry on top of each. Chill until ready to serve. The tarts should be enjoyed within a few hours of assembling.
- Once you wash and hull a strawberry, it should be used and eaten fairly soon afterwards. To avoid last-minute work, you can prepare the crust and pastry cream filling a day ahead, and then assemble your tarts a few hours before you plan on serving them.
- This recipe uses a classic pastry cream filling, which can be used for any number of tart recipes. It makes about 1 ½ cups (375 mL) in total and can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
Excerpted from Bake with Anna Olson by Anna Olson. Copyright © 2016 Olson Food Concepts Inc. and Peace Point Entertainment Group Inc. Photography by Ryan Szulc and Mike McColl. Excerpted by permission of Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd. a Penguin Random House company. All rights reserved.