- Almond Crust, recipe follows
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Vanilla Pastry Cream, recipe follows
- 1/4 cup red currant jam, or apricot jam
- 2 tablespoons brandy, or Kirsch
- 3 cups fresh small strawberries, hulled, rinsed and patted dry
- Fresh mint sprigs, garnish
Bake the piecrust according to the recipe and let cool completely on a wire rack.
In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until frothy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream and spoon into the crust, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula.
Arrange the sliced strawberries in overlapping concentric circles around the top of the cream. (Alternately, arrange whole small berries, pointed tops up, in a circular pattern) With a pastry brush, brush the tops with the jam glaze. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
To serve, lift the tart from the side of the pan and place on a serving dish or cake stand. Cut into wedges, and garnish each serving with a fresh mint sprig.
Almond Pastry Crust:
1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds, lightly toasted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor, pulse to finely grind the almonds. Add the flour, sugar and salt, and process to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running, add the egg yolk and extract through the feed tube and process. Add the ice water and pulse just until a dough forms. Remove from the machine. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing the dough first along the sides and then evenly across the bottom. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line the dough with parchment paper and pie weights or beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
Vanilla Pastry Cream:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise and seeds scraped out
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted
In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean pods and seeds. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan of hot milk and whisk to combine. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and strain into a clean container. Discard the vanilla bean or rinse and reserve for another use. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours, before using.