Chocolate Tart with Pastry Cream and Strawberries, a gorgeous looking dessert that combines a buttery, melt in your mouth, chocolate pate sucrée, a luxurious vanilla bean pastry cream and fresh sweet strawberries. A forkful and you’ll be in dessert heaven!
Song of the day: I Don’t Like It, I Love It – Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White.
When it comes to baking, tarts have a special place in my heart. I not only love to bake them, they are also the dessert I enjoy the most. I am always indecisive about everything, tell Loreto about it, lol, but put me in front of a slice of cake and slice of tart and I have no hesitation whatsoever.
My love for tarts started young when baking a crostata for my family and friends filled me with pride and joy and was greatly appreciated. It also included making beautifully rustic galettes and more sophisticated tarts. What is it that you like so much about tarts I hear you asking. Can it be that they have in common a pastry dough (and not a batter) that I need to work with my hands (a little, not overwork it) and roll with a rolling pin? It definitely could. I associate a wood board and a rolling pin with my childhood, my memories, my happy place. Watching the women in my family make and roll the dough has shaped me into who I am now.
What I absolutely love about tarts is the texture. Between a spongy dessert and a crumbly one, you know where to find me. Tarts, after that first crunch, they melt in your mouth, they are delicate and ethereal, not heavy and loud. They are not the easiest and fastest sweet to make, so they allow me to concentrate and be “in the moment” for quite some time. Chocolate tarts are even better because anything is better with chocolate in my world. The cocoa in the crust adds richness and subdues the buttery flavor a bit while bringing the word “decadent” into the picture. Add to that a luxurious, velvety vanilla bean pastry cream, and fresh fruit (whatever you choose, like or have) and you have an absolute winner, my friends!
The chocolate pate sucrée is my go-to recipe from the Duchess Bake Shop Cookbook. It never fails me and it makes the best tart shell I’ve had so far. I took one of their baking courses on how to make tarts and it is my reference now every time I want to bake a tart. That day at the course we made a lemon tart and a chocolate tart with a chocolate filling, we each worked on our own pastry and I came back home with an 8-inch lemon tart and 2 x 4-inch chocolate tarts. Loreto and my step son were on cloud nine. There, we used the tart rings and the “enfoncée” method. Here, I used a basic tart pan with a removable bottom, easier to work with and more forgiving when you shape the dough in the pan. Plus, I haven’t invested in buying tart rings, yet. There are so many baking tools that I’d love to have, but we have to choose wisely on what to buy since at the time being, running our food blog has way more expenses than returns. One day, though…
With this recipe for the pate sucrée, you will end up with enough dough for 2x 8-inch tarts, bake one now and freeze the other one for a later use. It will come handy when you want to make another tart and it will cut the time by more than half.
The vanilla bean pastry cream, on the other hand, is an Italian recipe and it is the recipe I’ve always used and everybody loves it. It is composed of few -good- ingredients: milk (or milk and cream), egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla bean. The only difference is that when I make it in Italy it comes a deep yellow color, here, even though using organic brown shell eggs, it comes a lighter color, but the flavor is all the same fantastic! Hope you give it a try, it is really something. With the leftover, we made a simple spoon dessert made of pastry cream and fresh berries: light, fresh, delicious.
For the topping, I chose strawberries (even though they are not in season right now in this part of the world) because I find them to be the best complement to the cocoa crust and the vanilla bean pastry cream, but you can use whatever fruit is in season or you like best, or maybe skip the fruit and create a lattice top to cover the pastry cream, or go with chocolate filling on chocolate crust. Experiment, and have fun in your kitchen. It si your time to be creative and daring.
I had a lot of fun and the whole preparation kept me busy for quite some time. The end result was so rewarding! Beautiful to look at, and even better when it came to taste it!
The first thing that registers are the textures. The crust has this delicate crispness to it and when it hits your tongue it just melts leaving your tongue with a buttery richness on it. The cream comes in like silk and lusciously blends with the crust, especially those fresh vanilla bean bits that make your mouth sing. The strawberries nicely macerated offer the crisp yet juicy freshness to cleanse the palate and you are ready for the second, third, fourth bite.
We enjoyed this Chocolate Tart with Pastry Cream and Strawberries, with some fellow Italian friends to end off a lovely dinner filled with talks on recipes, and Italy. The half that remained we shared it the day after with few of our fellow Canadian bloggers and foodie friends, and from the expression on their faces, it was well received. I would have to say it is best served fresh, the day after is still as good, but a couple of days and the moisture of the cream along with the condensation of the fridge dissipates that lovely texture of this most exquisite dessert.
Song of the day: I Don’t Like It, I Love It – Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White.
- 245 g (1 1/2 cups) flour 00, or all-purpose flour
- 100 g (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) icing sugar
- 18 g (3 Tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 g (1/4 tsp) salt
- 175 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, organic, free range
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks, organic, free-range
- 140 g granulated sugar
- 45 g corn starch, sifted
- 500 ml half and half cream (or part milk, part cream)
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (or fruit juice of your choice)
- Sift the flour, icing sugar, cocoa powder, and salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Fit the bowl on the stand mixer. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture looks sandy.
- Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix on low, stopping when the dough is barely mixed and some of the dry ingredients are still visible.
- Empty the dough onto a wood board (or counter) and press it down with the palm of your hands to work in the last of the dry ingredients.
- Shape the dough into two flat rectangles, wrap them in plastic and set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight. You can also double wrap one pastry dough and freeze it for a later use (up to 2 months).
- Remove the pate sucrée from the refrigerator and wait a couple minutes so that it is not too hard to roll. Lightly flour a work surface and both sides of the dough.
- Roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick, making sure it is not sticking to the work surface, and giving the dough a 90 degree turn after each roll, flipping it over and adding flour as needed. As the dough gets thinner it is more delicate and flipping it over will be more difficult. just keep rotating it and lightly flouring as you roll.
- Roll your dough on the rolling pin and gently place it over the tart pan (with removable bottom), pressing the dough delicately at the bottom and edges of the pan. With a sharp knife trim the excess dough on the edges.
- Using a fork, lightly poke holes in the bottom of the shell so that no air bubbles form while baking.
- Refrigerate the shell for at least 15 minutes before baking.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
- For an 8-inch tart pan, bake for 18 minutes, (you will see the edges of the tart separating from the sides of the pan).
- Take out of oven and let cool on a rack, while you make the pastry cream.
- Add the cream (or milk and cream mix) in a pot with a heavy bottom.
- Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and extract the seeds with the tip of a knife. Add the pod to the pot with the milk/cream (the seeds you will add them to the sugar).
- Bring the pot to a low boil over medium/low heat, then remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl add the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla bean and massage to infuse the sugar with the vanilla essence.
- In a medium bowl add the yolks, and the vanilla sugar. Whisk well but quickly (if you leave the sugar in contact with the yolks for too long, it will crystallize the proteins making them insoluble).
- Add the sifted corn starch and mix well.
- Remove the pod from the milk/cream. Add two ladles of milk to the egg mixture to temper and dilute it a bit, mix, then pour the mixture back into the pot with the remnant milk/cream and bring it back to the stove on low heat.
- Let it thicken by whisking continuously.
- Immediately remove the cream from the heat and pour it into a bowl immersed in a larger bowl filled with ice cold water, while stirring constantly. The intent is to cool the cream quickly by bringing the temperature down.
- Cover the cream with plastic, letting the plastic touch the cream to avoid from drying out.
- Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
- At this point the pastry cream is ready for use.
- Wash and thinly cut the strawberries. Macerate them for a few minutes in sugar and lemon juice (or fruit juice).
- Take the pastry cream out of the refrigerator and stir.
- Pour few tablespoons of cream on top of the tart and spread with a small offset spatula.
- Arrange the strawberries on top and sprinkle with icing sugar (optional).
You will end up with leftover pastry cream. It keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to one month. We had the leftover pastry cream with some berries for a gluten-free, delicious dessert.
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