Perhaps one of my favorite summer desserts, this berry tartlet (which can be topped with any seasonal fruit), is filled with a vanilla pastry cream and balanced with a crumbly, almond crust. It's best served chilled on a warm summer day for a refreshing treat, topped with dreamy edible flowers for a beautiful seasonal dessert.
Pastry cream seems like an intimidating baking task, but it just takes a watchful eye and a bit of patience. The biggest thing to watch out for is not overcooking the eggs, so make sure to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens then remove from the heat to prevent overcooking. It took me a few failed attempts to get the hang of it and consistency correct, so don't be discouraged if it's not perfect the first time.
makes 1 8" tart or 3 mini 6" tarts
For Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk (do not substitute low-fat or skim milk)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour (or gluten free all purpose flour)
½ cup almonds
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
Handful of seasonal fruit (slices of nectarines, figs, berries)
Make the Pastry Cream
In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Whisk until the mixture is very smooth and pale in color, about 2 minutes.
In a medium pot, heat the milk until just boiling. Remove the pot from heat and add ¼ cup of warm milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Slowly drizzle the remaining milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until combined.
Transfer back to the pot and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Watch mixture carefully to prevent the eggs from scrambling, until the mixture thickens into pastry cream, about 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the butter and vanilla and cook for another minute more, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick and starting to bubble.
Pour mixture into a shallow bowl and cover with plastic wrap, so that the top of the pastry cream is touching the plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature then transfer to refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours before using. Pastry cream keeps for 2-3 days.
Make the Crust
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place flour, almonds, sugar, almond extract and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and continue to pulse until a coarse dough forms. Add 1 tablespoon of ice water, gradually adding more, if needed, until a soft dough forms.
Lightly grease fluted tart tin (with removable bottom) and press dough onto the bottom and sides of tin. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 325F.
Allow crust to cool slightly. If your crust has shrunk, use the bottom of a measuring cup to gently press dough back into the sides and bottom of tin. Remove from tin and allow to cool completely before filling.
Spread pastry cream into cooled tart shells using an offset spatula and top with assorted berries + edible flowers. Chill in refrigerator for an hour or two to allow mixture to set into tart or store until ready to serve.