In these crostatine (tartlets), the shortbread pastry is buttery and crumbly, the custard silky and creamy, the raspberries the perfect addition of sweet and tart.
I am not perfect, I make mistakes, stumble, waver, sputter. I am the worst critic of myself. I am always not enough for…anything. Not tall enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough, not talented enough. My first thought, in whatever I do, is that it is not good enough, somebody did it or it is doing it better than me. In the food blog experience, which is not helping my self-esteem I must say, I always think that I am not doing a good enough job: my baking, cooking, writing, photographing are not good enough.
But I am me, I am the masterpiece of myself and I am doing what I love doing and maybe what I love doing is what I am supposed to be doing. And I must learn to accept the fact that I am doing it good enough. Because I am good enough for me.
Take for example these little fruit tarts, or as I like to call them in italian Crostatine alla crema e lamponi. We had planned to have friends over last saturday and my husband was taking care of all the cooking (I played the sous-chef, which I like). Since I am the “baker”, or better, since I love to bake, I was in charge of the dessert. We had beautiful fresh raspberries so my first thought went to a fruit tart, perfect for a dinner on the patio on a warm night.
I’ve been making shortbread pastry (my go-to base for crostata and crostatine) for a very long time, I should be confident enough in my capabilities. But still…
My mother taught me how to make a fantastic delicious custard (crema in italian) with eggs, flour, sugar, lemon rind and whole milk. So that should make my confidence grow. But still…
And the raspberries, I tasted them, they were so juicy and sweet. Perfect marriage to the custard. But still…
For me, the pastry wasn’t golden enough, I didn’t spread enough custard on the tarts, I didn’t put enough raspberries on the top. My pictures weren’t sharp enough to highlight the dessert. I went on and on, worrying about the dessert not being good enough for the wonderful dinner that my husband was preparing.
All that -usual for me- nonsense, right until the last minute when I served them, still excusing myself if they were not up to the gorgeous dinner we just had.
And right there, still as usual, after the first mouthful, eyes rolled, lips smacked, compliments flew, plates were polished and the tarts were gone in a blink.
The shortbread pastry of the crostatine: light buttery and crumbly, the custard: silky, rich and creamy, the raspberries: the perfect addition of sweet and tart.
My friends and my husband loved them. Me, I smiled, and gave myself a virtual pat on the back.
For the crostatine:
- 300 g all purpose flour
- 100 g white granulated sugar
- 150 g butter, cold, shaved
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
For the custard:
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp flour or potato starch
- 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
- 200 ml milk
- 1 lemon, the zest (not grated)
- For the shortbread pastry: start putting the shaved cold butter in a bowl with the sugar, vanilla and eggs.
- Then mash and mix them with a fork.
- Combine the flour with the baking powder, add to the mixture, stirring with the fork.
- On a lightly floured wood board, pour the mixture and continue to knead the pastry quickly until dough is smooth and homogeneous. If you see that the dough is very soft and it sticks to your hands, add a little flour.
- Wrap the shortbread dough in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- After the resting time, take the pastry dough out of the fridge and roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 3-4 mm.
- Using a tartlet mould (9 cm in diameter), turn it upside down and cut out the circle of dough.
- Gently place it in a greased mould.
- With a fork press along the edge of the pastry and prick the bottom of the tart.
- Repeat for all the tartlet moulds.
- Proceed with placing circles of parchment paper the size of the base, on the base of the tartlets on which you will put dried beans or rice.
- Cook in the pre-heated oven at 180° C (350° F) for approximately 20 minutes, or until they are a nice golden colour.
- Once cooked remove the beans and the parchment paper and let cool completely.
- Fill the shortbread pastry shells with the previously made custard, then put the fruit (in my case raspberries), pressing it lightly into the cream.
- For the custard: Heat the milk in a small pan.
- In a bowl beat the egg yolks and the sugar until light and smooth.
- Add the potato flour, a little bit of the milk and mix gently. When it is mixed thoroughly, add the rest of the milk and mix well.
- Put it back on the stove, add the lemon zest and stir continuously with a wooden spoon to prevent the cream from sticking to bottom of pan.
- When the cream is thickening, remove the lemon zest, keep stirring and when it has reached the desired consistency, remove from heat.
- Cool the custard, placing the saucepan in cold water. Then pour it into a container, cover with plastic wrap, making sure to make it adhere well to the cream and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use.