This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers are making Katya's (of Second Dinner) pick, Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake. I was days away from leaving on vacation when the November picks were announced. If this one had been cookies, brownies, muffins or something like these, I could have fit them in. Katya has great taste so her pick was going to require more time than I had. Visit her to see what her beautiful cake looks like.
Five days before going on vacation, I spotted beautiful raspberries at Costco. Costco, the land of excess, sells them in boxes of 6 clamshell containers. Even though I'm going on vacation in 5 days, I buy them.
Driving home, I wondered what was I thinking??? How was I going to eat six containers of raspberries on my own? Later, I commiserated with a friend, and decide to make my own IQF (individually quick frozen) raspberries. But lining them up on sheet pans to freeze seems exceedingly tedious, so I decided to make a raspberry tart. By this time, two of the containers were gone, but I figured making a 9" tart would leave me with leftover berries, so I made a 10", plus four 4" chocolate tart shells. Then I made pastry cream. Does anyone else enjoy the irony of watching "The Biggest Loser" while making pastry cream? Finally, I assembled the fruit tart before leaving for work the next morning.
I based my pastry cream on Dorie Greenspan's from Baking From My Home to Yours. I cooked it a little too long, based on her instructions to boil the custard for 1-2 minutes. When it started thickening, my instincts shouted "DANGER!" but I ignored them since it had only been 30 seconds. So my custard ended up very stiff. No worries. When this happens, I always whip some cream and whisk it into the pastry cream to lighten it (I'm talking texture, not calories, because this recipe is pretty much a train wreck for your diet).
I used Dorie's chocolate shortbread crust also from BFMHTY, and it was deliciously chocolaty. Once I assembled the 10" tart, I realized I hardly had enough berries for it, with practically none left over for the 4" minis. Instead of stressing about this, I served the tart at work with the minis, thinking someone would snap them up. And they did, before the tart was even half gone.
Even with a new kitchen, I still run out of space
Don't laugh, but this is a quick, easy recipe for a knockout tart. The chocolate shortbread crust recipe can be found in Baking From My Home to Yours. Here is my version of Dorie's pastry cream.
Pastry Cream, adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.
Makes about 4 cups
3 cups whole milk (I only had 1%, so I used 2 1/2 cups 1% and 1/2 cup whipping cream)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
9 large egg yolks at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch, sifted
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut into butter pat-sized pieces
3/4 cup (or more or less, to taste) whipping cream (optional)
I like the softer texture that adding whipped cream gives. If you like a sturdier pastry cream, skip the whipped cream.
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan; add the vanilla bean and its scrapings, cover and let sit off the heat for 30 minutes. Bring the milk back to a gentle boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl or measuring cup and add the hot milk in a very thin stream, whisking constantly. Once a third of the milk has been added, you can pour the rest in without danger of cooking the yolks.
Pour the custard through a strainer into a medium saucepan and cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Set it aside for 5 minutes, then add the pats of butter and whisk them in completely. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent formation of a skin and refrigerate.
Before assembling your tarts, check the consistency of your pastry cream. If it's too firm for you, whip the cream in a clean, dry bowl, and whip it into the pastry cream. I always eyeball this. This time, since I made so much pastry cream, I added another dose of whipped cream.
Because you've added whipped cream, this pastry cream (which technically is more like a Bavarian cream) is not stable for long periods at room temperature.
I'm sorry, Katya, that couldn't tackle your pick before I left on vacation. It looks scrumptious and I hope to fit it in once I settle back in.