Red, White and Blue Tart

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you're enjoying the extra day off and getting some much needed vitamin D outside. We made last minute plans and invited friends over for dinner, and berries were on sale at the store - and that is how this red, white and blue tart came to be. This happens every summer, the vibrant, fresh berries never fail to inspire some baking.

There are a few components to this tart, but each on its own isn't difficult to make. If you plan ahead, they can easily be made a few days before, and you can throw it all together in 15 minutes the day of. I, of course, decided last minute to make it so it is possible to prepare this dessert in one day, but I wouldn't recommend it if you're also responsible for prepping the appetizers and main course.

This dessert would be absolutely perfect for your 4th of July bbq/cookout/party. Just saying.

Red, White and Blue Tart
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

For the tart shell:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and use a pastry cutter (or your fingers) to incorporate the butter until it is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the egg into the mixture until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Pressed for time? You can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Pastry cream:
1 1/4 cups milk (I used 2% milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Bring the milk and vanilla extract to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Working in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together until thick and pale. Whisking all the while, very slowly drizzle a quarter of the hot milk onto the yolks. Then, still whisking, pour the rest of the liquid in a steady stream over the tempered yolks. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.

Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously and without stop, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep the mixture at the boil, whisking energetically, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and scrape the pastry cream into a clean bowl. Allow the pastry cream to cool on the counter for about 3 minutes.

Cut the butter into chunks and stir the chunks into the hot pastry cream, continuing to stir until the butter is melted and incorporated. At this point, the cream needs to be thoroughly chilled. You can either set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and, to ensure even cooling, stir the cream from time to time, or refrigerate the cream, in which case you should press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal.

(The cream can be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or packed airtight and frozen for 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and whip before using to return it to its smooth consistency.)

Whipped cream:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
2 to 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat heavy cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Spoon the freshly whipped cream into a pastry bag or ziploc bag fitted with a star tip.

Final assembly:
Spread the pastry cream in the bottom of the baked tart shell. Alternately arrange the sliced strawberries, blueberries and piped whipped cream over the top - and voila!

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