- For the crust:
- 1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into pea-size pieces
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- For the pastry cream filling:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 quart fresh strawberries, topped and sliced
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
Special Equipment: 1 pound dried beans, 10-inch tart pan
For the crust:
In the food processor combine the butter flour, almonds and salt and pulse, pulse, pulse until it looks like grated cheese, as I like to call the Parmigiano stage. Add the egg yolk and half the water and pulse; the dough should start to come together. If it does not, add the remaining water and pulse until the dough forms into a ball. Dump the "doughball" onto a floured work surface and using the heel of your hand, "schmear" it across the work surface. Repeat this process 1 to 2 more times, then form the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
*TIP- this can be done up to a week in advance or frozen for a longer time.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
To roll the crust:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 10 minutes before rolling to let it soften. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Lay the dough in the tart pan. Make a small "doughball" with a little of the dough that is hanging over the edge of the tart pan. Dip the dough ball in flour and use is to carefully push the dough into the corners of the tart pan. Once the dough has been pushed into the corners of the tart pan, use the rolling pin to roll over the top edge of the tart pan to cut a clean crisp edge. Line the tart with aluminum foil, be sure to push it into the corners. This will keep the sides of the tart tall and straight and able to hold the filling. Fill the tart with the dried beans. Place in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and bake for another 4 to 5 minutes. The dough should be cooked through and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool.
For the pastry cream:
Place the heavy cream, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and pod in a saucepan. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil over low heat. While the cream is coming to a boil, combine the eggs and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl and the cornstarch and milk in another bowl. Beat with a whisk to a homogeneous mixture, no big lumps of egg white! When the cream comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and discard the vanilla bean pod. *Whisk half of the cream into the egg/sugar mixture and then IMMEDIATELY whisk it back into the pan with the hot cream.
*This is called tempering and will allow you to combine boiling cream and eggs without making scrambled eggs.
Return the pan to a medium heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch/milk mixture. Bring this to a boil to thicken the pastry cream. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. It is necessary to bring this mixture to a boil to cook the starch. If the mixture is not brought to a boil the mixture will feel starchy and gritty. The desired outcome is the consistency of vanilla pudding. YUM! Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill. This can be done really quickly over an ice bath.
To assemble the tart:
Fill the tart shell with the chilled pastry cream. Top with the sliced strawberries. You can arrange the strawberries in circles or in lines; it's up to you! Just make it look pretty. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.
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