I’m not the kind of person who makes or eats dessert on a regular basis, but I have been known to turn out a pretty dessert or two on a special occasion.
Thanks to my stint in culinary school I’ve learned bunches about crowd-pleasing, fancy-pants desserts. I’ve whipped up chocolatey-layered opera cake, torched a sweet creme brulee, and mass produced mini-pavlovas all in the name of keeping up my GPA. I muddled my way through making Italian meringue, French buttercream, and chocolate ganache, but I never caught the fever for making desserts.
That being said, I have a major soft spot (or maybe I should say sweet spot?) when it comes to making and eating a classic fresh fruit tart. I learned how to make a version of this pretty confection in school, and served it as the final course at one of my very first dinner parties.
It can be time consuming to make a proper tart, but it’s well worth the effort to make one from scratch.
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Traditional pie dough is made from white sugar and cold butter, but the pâte brisée dough used in this tart calls for softened butter and powdered sugar. The shift in ingredients yields a shatteringly crisp crust and offers a perfect foil for a decadent brown sugar custard filling.
I garnished my most recent tart with a beautiful batch of raspberries, but you should feel free to top your tart with whatever assortment of fruits and berries strikes your fancy.
Trust me, your friends and family will appreciate the fruits of your labor.
Raspberry tart with brown sugar pastry cream
For the brown sugar pastry cream:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the brown sugar, flour and cornstarch in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or use a hand mixer). Whip the ingredients at medium speed until well combined. Add the egg yolks and salt and whip on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot. Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk constantly to combine. Whisk in another 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the yolk mixture followed by another 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Add the warmed egg yolk and milk mixture to the remaining hot milk in the pan and place it over medium heat.
Whisk the mixture constantly until it nearly boils and becomes very thick — about 7-8 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract, whisk until smooth, and pour the pastry cream into a clean glass bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream and refrigerate overnight.
For the pate brisee crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, separated
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon whole milk
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and beat until well mixed. Add the egg yolk, flour and salt and beat on medium speed until a crumbly dough forms.
Add the milk with the machine running to help the dough come together. Coat your hands with flour and gather the dough into a ball. Press it into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight).
When ready to assemble the tart, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a 1/4 -inch thick round on a floured board. The circle of dough should extend 1 1/2 inches beyond the size of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the rolling pin to help you transfer the crust to the center of the pan.
Gently press the dough into the pan, folding the edges in to make sturdy sides. Remove any excess dough by rolling over the top of the pan with the pin and use it to repair any cracks. Refrigerate the tart shell for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with the tines of a fork in several places. Line the tart shell with parchment or foil and fill with pie-weights or dried beans. Blind bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the pie weights and parchment.
Return the crust to the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven, beat the reserved egg white until foamy, and brush it over the bottom and sides of the hot tart shell; the heat from the shell will cook the egg whites and seal the crust. Allow the crust to cool completely before filling.
For the raspberry tart:
1 prepared pate brisee crust
1 recipe brown sugar pastry cream
12 ounces fresh raspberries (blackberries, blueberries or strawberries can be substituted)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Pour the pastry cream into the prepared tart shell and smooth to an even thickness. Arrange the raspberries in concentric circles on top of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust with powdered sugar just before cutting into wedges. Makes 8-10 servings.