One might think the recent overdose of Easter eggs & chocolate bunnies would have satisfied even the sweetest tooth, at least for a while. But no. The daily supply of summer fruit, prematurely delicious one might say, has only managed to fuel a certain craving for summer sweets rather than pacify it. So I keep buying, we keep eating. Whenever I´m lucky – or should I say fast – enough to hide a handful of strawberries, let alone raspberries from my ever hungry kids, I dive into the sugar drenched panoply of French fruit desserts. Such a pleasure from start to finish. Think vacherins! Charlottes! Or pistachio custard cream.
It´s been a while that I´ve wanted to make one, but until recently I could only dream about what to actually do with it. I mean, what to pair it with. My first thought was chocolate, but I´ve had enough of that lately. And with summer at least somewhere in sight, the answer could only and most necessarily be strawberries, if only for the beauty of complementing colours; and beyond that, because strawberries & pistachios undeniably are a match made somewhere in heaven. They´re partners in crime. As simple as that. And so I found myself doing what I´ve always loved best, what I´ve been doing so many times ever since I became my mother´s kitchen apprentice one Friday night long ago: I baked a tart (and ate it, too).
Strawberry pistachio tart (serves 6, makes one 8 inch tart)
tart crust (for one 8 inch tart and some cookies):
200 g flour
50 g ground hazelnuts
60 g confectioner´s sugar
120 g salted butter (demi-sel), or unsalted butter + 1 good pinch fine salt
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold water as needed
pistachio cream & fruit topping:
250 ml milk
80 g fine sugar
25 g flour
30 g pistachio paste
400-500 g strawberries, preferably smaller, heart-shaped varieties
small handful chopped unsalted pistachios
a few small mint leaves
To make the pastry crust, mix the ingredients except water until roughly combined (I use the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Add cold water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together and forms a rough ball. Shape a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to a few days.
When ready to bake, roll out 2/3 of the dough on a well floured surface. Line a greased 8 inch tart shell, preferably one with a removable bottom. Use the back of a knife to remove excess dough from the edges. Prick with a fork all over. Refrigerate again until the oven is preheated to 180°C/350°F.
Cover pastry with a circle of parchment paper. Place another, slightly smaller tart pan – or any other oven proof weight – on the parchment and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned.
For the pistachio pastry cream, whisk 2 eggs with the sugar at high speed with until frothy and pale. Reduce speed to low, add flour, wait until combined. Add pistachio paste. Simultaneously, in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients for the cream, bring milk to a soft boil.
Once boiling, pour hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, still stirring.
Put everything back into the saucepan, and, over low-medium heat, stir thoroughly with a hand whisk until the cream thickens visibly to a custardy consistency. This should take 3-5 minutes. Leave to cool at room temperature.
To assemble, place the tart shell on a serving plate andspread the cooled pistachio cream. Cut off the greens from the strawberries, and arrange them in a circular pattern, thick sides down. The smaller the strawberries, the easier it will be to slice the tart! Sprinkle with mint leaves and chopped pistachios, and confectioner´s sugar, if desired. Keep refrigerated.