Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rainy day tarte aux fraises

Woke up this morning to clear blue skies... came home from work to a rainy day like this. Makes me miss Seattle weather a little bit. It was very fitting for the first Monday of October-- perfect for the quiet moment I've been needing all weekend, with a cup of Tahitian Vanilla Chai (my new obsession) and this song playing in the background.

I scrapped my run (only 4 miles anyway, pshhh) and instead used two and a half sticks of butter and some whole milk to make a healthy delicious dessert. It was that kind of evening. The occasion? Family dinner on a random Monday. Tarte aux fraises with cappuccinos for dessert.
We like to class things up a bit.

Tarte aux fraises

Pâte Sucrée adapted from this recipe (entire recipe makes 3 tarts-- I froze the other two)
2 1/2 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature
3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1. First, cream the butter and sugar together. I don't have a KitchenAid mixer, so I just used a wooden spoon and lots of arm muscle. Add the vanilla and kept mixing until smooth and blended together.
2. Stir the eggs with a fork, then mix in until incorporated.
3. Add the flour until the dough just holds together (or else it will be too tough and chewy)
4. Divide the dough into three balls or disks; refrigerate the one you're going to use (it says for at least 4 hours... I only had half an hour, and it wasn't bad), and wrap the other two tightly for the freezer. (They can be frozen for up to a month.)
5. After dough rests in the refrigerator, roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Transfer to a pre-buttered, fluted removable-bottom tart pan on a parchment-lined baking sheet-- press edges of tart into mold, cutting off (or eating) any extra.
6. Poke holes in the center of the tart with a fork and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F. The recipe says to weigh the center down with rice or beans (wrapped in parchment, of course), but I omitted this step and the center was fine.

While the tart is baking, make the pastry cream and hull the strawberries (I also sliced mine in half):

Pastry Cream adapted from this recipe
1 1/4 c. whole milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. salted butter (cut into chunks)
1. Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Once it is at a boil, cover and remove from heat for 10 minutes to cool. After 10 minutes, add the vanilla extract.
2. In a separate (medium) saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together until thick. (And it WILL be thick.) Slowly drizzle in the hot milk while whisking the egg mixture, then put the pan on medium heat and continue whisking until mixture is at a boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, scrape cream into a clean bowl, and let room at room temperature for 3 minutes. Stir the butter chunks into the cream, then let cool in the refrigerator with plastic wrap pressed on top. Or, if you're really in a hurry, place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice to cool.

Assembly of the tarte aux fraises:
1. Once tart has cooled, spread the pastry cream on top.
2. Arrange the hulled, sliced strawberries on the cream in some sort of semi-organized, decorative manner.

Et la voilà !

Note: The tart makes an incredible breakfast the next morning with a cup of coffee. We polished that bad boy off in no time. I also ate half, which is 1 1/2 sticks of butter. In 12 hours. 
That'll motivate my run today...

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