Strawberry tart – a taste of summer

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

I always use some of the wonderfully sweet summer strawberries we have in Denmark during June, July and the beginning of August for a strawberry tart with chocolate, almonds and a thick vanilla custard. It is probably my favourite summer treat and is perfect both as a sweet accompaniment for an afternoon cup of coffee or as a beautiful centerpiece dessert at a dinner party.

I will not lie, this is a relatively time consuming tart as you have make the shortcrust pastry, the almond filling and the vanilla custard, but all the components themselves are relatively easy to make. And when you take the first bite of your homemade strawberry tart and taste the crispy pastry with its dense almond filling combined with the silky, vanilla perfumed custard, the slightly bitter chocolate and the sweet ripe strawberries then you know exactly what summer heaven tastes like.

Strawberry tart
For 6 people

Half a portion of shortcrust pastry
500g strawberries (preferably organic)
75g dark chocolate (70%)
4 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly (or any other sweet red jelly)

Almond filling
150g marzipan
100g soft butter
100g golden cane sugar
2 eggs
50 wheat flour
The seeds of half a fat, good quality vanilla pod

3 egg yolkes
2dl fullfat milk
50g golden cane sugar
The seeds of the other half of the vanilla pod
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 sheets of gelatin (4 grams in total)

Start by making the shortcrust pastry. When it has been in the freezer then pre-bake it for 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius until slightly golden.

Meanwhile make the almond filling. Knead the marzipan with sugar and vanilla and add the butter little by little until the mix is homogeneous. Mix in the eggs in one at a time and then finally add the flour. If the mass starts to split then add a bit of the flour between the eggs.

Pour the almond filling into the pre-baked tart shell.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Bake the tart for another 15-20 minutes until the filling has set and is golden. Chop the chocolate very fine and divide on the hot tarte filling so it melts. If it doesn’t spread on its own then help it along with a spoon until the filling is covered.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

For the custard start by soaking the gelatin in lots of cold water for ten minutes (or follow instructions on the package). Mix the rest of the ingredients in a heavy bottom saucepan and bring it to a boil while continually whisking. Let is gently boil for a couple of minutes until it has thickened quite a bit.

Strawberry tart with almonds, vanilla custard and chocolate

Remove the pot from the stove. Squeeze most of the water from the gelatin and then melt it in a pan over low heat with the little water still clinging to it. Mix carefully into the still warm custard. Cover it with clingfilm and let it cool down completely. The custard should be very thick, but that is the intention.

Put the custard on the cold tart with filling. Hull and half the strawberries and arrange them neatly on top of the cusard. Melt the redcurrant jelly in a saucepan over low heat and brush it evenly onto the strawberries.

Serve the tart for some very lucky guest!
Jordbærtærte, færdig1, august 2013

Easy shortcrust pastry for sweet tarts

Shortcrust pastry with rhubarb filling

Shortcrust pastry with an almond filling and caramelized nuts

In my world there are very few things that trump a freshly baked tart with crispy and flaky shortcrust pastry that melts on your tongue. Many people believe that it is hard to make shortcrust pastry and opt for the store-bought version, but making it yourself is actually quite straightforward, and the homemade version that doesn’t contain additives and is made with real butter tastes so much better than anything you can buy.

The key to success is to handle the pastry as little as possible and to cool it down before you bake it. It also helps using a pie dish with a loose bottom which makes it easier to transfer the pie to your serving plate. I personally love the pie dishes from Circulon as they are practically indestructible – trust me, I have tried! You can buy them here.

For most of the year I fill my pies with seasonal fruit, and in Denmark we are pretty lucky in this respect – in spring rhubarb is abundant, summer arrives with lots of sweet and ripe berries, and in autumn we have more plums, pears and apples than we can possibly eat. Wintertime calls for comfort and coziness and here a velvety chocolate filling is the perfect antidote to the long and dark Scandinavian winters.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
For two pie dishes 20cm in diameter

250g wheat flour
165g cold butter
1 medium egg
3 tablespoons of icing sugar
A pinch of salt
The seeds of half a vanilla pod

Cut the butter into cubes and mix with flour, icing sugar and salt. Work the butter into the dry ingredients until it reaches a consistency like breadcrumbs. This is best done with an electric mixer, but can also be done by hand. Just remember to work as fast as possible so the butter doesn’t begin to melt.

Shortcrust pastry

Carefully whisk the egg and add it to the butter and flour mix. Mix together fast, kneading the pastry as little as possible. It should just stick together. If you do it with a machine then let it run until the pastry is just about homogeneous and the press the pastry into a ball with your hands.

Shortcrust pastry

Cover the shortcrust pastry in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. When the pastry has rested, roll it out with a bit more flour. Butter a 20 cm in diameter pie dish with a loose bottom making sure there is butter in every nook and cranny, and press the pastry into the dish. Be sure that there aren’t any air trapped between the bottom of the dish and the pastry.

Prick the pastry with a fork to allow air bubble to escape. Cover the dish in cling film and put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking it.

Shortcrust pastry

If the filling for the pie needs to be baked then pre-bake the pastry for 10-12 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius or until it is a light golden colour, then add the filling and bake until the pie is done.

If the filling doesn’t require baking then bake the pastry for approximately 25 minutes at 200 degrees Celcius or until it is golden and crispy. Let it cool off completely before adding the filling.

Shortcrust pastry

This blog post contains an affiliate link which means that I get a small amount of money if you buy a pie dish – it is not something that makes be rich in any way, but it helps to cover some of the expenses connected with running Sofie’s Pantry.