The French have it all. The most romantic of all languages, beautiful places, good wine, gorgeous fashion and most importantly, amazing food. And no, I’ve never been to France, though it’s right at the top of my list. But I did take two years of French, which to an extent, helps me to pronounce French terms somewhat correctly and also draws me to the French names of common desserts. What we call pastry cream, a thick milk and egg custard, is what they call crème pâtissière. Now that you know all these terms, don’t you also prefer we called it by it’s French name? Good!
I am always intimidated to try new things. I have never made custard from scratch, always fearing that I would end up with nothing but sweet scrambled eggs. But I did a quick study of a video by Joy Of Baking and was ready this time. Pastry cream is really easy yet one must approach it with a level of both caution and confidence. The ingredients, the temperature, even the speed with which you whisk will matter. I was ready this time. I brought my eggs to room temperature, heated the milk till it was just on the verge of boiling and had all my equipments ready – bowls, whisk, strainer and cling wrap. A batch of pastry cream takes just 5 minutes on the stove. I was kind of bummed by that, if you know what I mean. All this hullabaloo and it takes just 5 minutes? Is it the real deal then? I tasted some and yes, it was! Ah-ma-ziiiinnng (high-pitch opera voice)!!!
I can imagine myself making this again and again, filling up tarts, topping cupcakes, using it in trifle or mixing it with fruit salad. And, dare I even say it out aloud – chocolate eclairs! To begin with, I made these mini apple tarts, simple and delicious. The crust is a basic shortcrust pastry, which again, is a science. Everything must be cold, very cold. If you feel the butter melting when the dough comes together, you are doing it wrong. Once again, my fingers were crossed, hoping madly these wouldn’t end up doughy or chewy once baked.
And what do you know, it really was this wonderfully light, flaky and buttery crust. It was so good, I am almost tempted to buy a large tart pan. But you cannot beat the cuteness and convenience of these mini tart pans. Just look at them, will ‘ya?!
I’ve mentioned it many times before that I am almost always drawn to crunchy, sweet red apples. Feel free to use the tart Granny Smith ones if that’s your deal. But I personally feel the combo of shortcrust pastry, pastry cream and red apples is more harmonious. The apple slices are brushed with some runny apricot jam, both before and after baking.
A tart is actually quite simple. You can customize it to suit your taste. Use pastry cream or custard or applesauce as the filling. You can even do a cream cheese or ricotta cheese filling. Arrange fruit slices on top and brush lightly with jam or top them with streusel, it’s really up to you.
You can even bake empty tart shells and fill it up with chilled custard and fresh fruit just before serving. Maybe not apples or pears, because they do brown rather fast, but berries, kiwi and mango would be lovely. Also, if you are not baking the pastry cream filled tarts, remember to keep them refrigerated till serving time, obviously because of the egg content in the cream. Pastry cream tarts are delicious any way they are served – hot, warm or cold.
CREME PATTISIERE (PASTRY CREAM) FILLED MINI APPLE TARTS
You will need: (Makes 6 mini tarts)
For the Shortcrust Pastry Dough,
- All purpose flour – 1 cup
- Butter – 1/2 cup, cold and cut into little cubes
- Ice cold water – 2-3 tbsp
For the Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière or Confectioner’s Custard),
- Milk – 1 1/4 cups
- Egg yolks – from 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- Sugar – 1/4 cup
- All purpose flour – 2 tbsp
- Corn flour or corn starch – 2 tbsp
- Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
For the Mini Apple Tarts,
- Shortcrust pastry dough
- Pastry cream – the above mentioned quantity
- Red apples – 3, medium-sized
- Sugar – 2-3 tbsp
- Apricot jam – 2-3 tbsp
- Oil – to brush the tart pans
Both the dough and the pastry cream need to be chilled. So plan your time accordingly.
Shortcrust Pastry Dough: The rule of thumb for shortcrust pastry dough is flour and fat in a 2:1 by weight ratio. It works in the American cup measure too. The bowl, butter and water must be really chilled. 1 cup of flour may yield a little extra dough, this can be refrigerated and used later.
- Crumble the flour and cubes of butter together to form a breadcrumb like mixture. A food processor makes this step really easy. If you are using your fingers, be very quick as you do not want to melt the butter.
- Add water a tablespoon at a time till the dough just comes together. Form dough into a tight ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
- Heat milk in a saucepan on medium heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl till nice and fluffy. Sift together the flour and corn starch and add to the egg mixture. Whisk till combined well.
- Remove the milk from heat when it is heated thoroughly and you see little bubbles forming at the sides. It must not boil. Add a little milk to the egg mixture, whisking all the while. This is done to temper the eggs. Than add the rest of the hot milk and whisk thoroughly.
- Strain this mixture back into the saucepan and place on medium-high heat. Cook the custard, whisking vigorously all the while, till the custard thickens and forms a thick mixture.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract. Pour into a bowl and cover with cling wrap, touching the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cool the pastry cream to room temperature and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or even overnight.
Mini Apple Tarts:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and grease the mini tart pans thoroughly.
- Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut circles slightly larger than the size of your tart pan. Place the dough circle in the tart pan, pressing it up the sides. Trim the edges by running your rolling pin over the tart pan. Prick the dough crust with the tines of a fork and freeze them while you prep the apples.
- Slice the apples thinly and combine with 2-3 tbsp sugar. Meanwhile heat the apricot jam with a little bit of water to thin it slightly.
- Lightly whisk the chilled pastry cream. Take out the tart pans from the freezer and fill each one with a couple of tablespoons of pastry cream, arrange apple slices on top and brush lightly with the apricot jam.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or till the tarts are puffed and golden. Remove from oven and brush leftover apricot jam on top.
- Cool the mini apple tarts slightly in the tart pans. Serve them warm or you can chill them completely before serving.
Enjoy your apple tartlet with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top. Mmm… just one word – yum!
I am linking this up at these awesome blogs.
- A Blossoming Life
- Skip To My Lou
- Between Naps on the Porch
- Home Stories A To Z
- A Stroll Thru Life
- Cedar Hill Ranch
- Coastal Charm
- Elizabeth & Co
- House On The Way
- Savvy Southern Style
- The NY Melrose Family
- The Turquoise Home
- Living Well Spending Less
- Design Dining and Diapers
- The Novice Gardener
- The Shabby Nest
- French Country Cottage
- My Romantic Home
- The Charm of Home
- Thirty Handmade Days
- Crafts a la Mode
- Love of Family and Home
- DIY Show Off
- Nifty Thrifty Things
- By Stephanie Lynn