Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cherry Berry Cream Tart

This tart is divine. First there’s the buttery, flaky crust.  Then there’s the creamy, perfectly rich pastry cream topped with sweetened fresh berries of the season.  This takes awhile to make, BUT all the components can be made in advance and then you will be rewarded with a dessert that is for the gods.  You can make the pie dough as early as a month before your party and freeze it.  The day before you plan to make the tart, remove the dough from the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw.  Roll it out and bake it, the morning of your party.  The pastry cream can be made up to two days before your party.  Fill the tart with the pastry cream a couple of hours before the party.  Keep it chilled until ready to serve.  The berries can be sugared and kept in the fridge the day before the party.  Top the pastry-cream-filled-tart with the sweetened berries just before serving.

Pastry Cream with Cognac*
1 Baked Perfect Pie Dough*
4 cups berries (I used about 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups pitted cherries sweetened with 2-3 Tablespoons sugar.)

Pastry Cream with Cognac

Yield: 2 cups (excluding the whipping cream folded in)
You’ll have more than you will need for one pie.  Use what’s left for parfaits or mini tarts.

5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature (if using large eggs, just add another egg yolk)
¾ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cups scalded milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon heavy cream

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.
With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic-wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.
After the pastry cream has chilled, make the sweetened whipped cream.  Place 1 cup of chilled heavy cream into the mixer with the whisk attachment.  To keep the cream from spattering all over your kitchen, place a towel over the mixer.  Turn the mixer on low and then after a minute, turn it to the highest setting.  Gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla.  Allow to mixer to whisk the cream on high until it looks like whipped cream.  Be careful not to overbeat or you will have butter!  Gently fold the whipping cream into the pastry cream.  Place this in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Perfect Pie Dough

Makes enough for two 9-inch one-crust pies
From the kitchen of Martha Stewart
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

The secret to making perfect pie dough is to make sure the ingredients and then the dough itself are very cold.  Baking the chilled pie dough in a hot oven makes the butter melt so that it creates steam inside the baking dough.  That makes the flaky crust we all want!

2½ cups all-purpose flour            
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled   
½ cup ice-cold water

Measure the flour and salt into a food processor with the blade.  Cut the ice-cold butter into pat-sized piece and add to the flour mixture.  Press the pulse button on the processor until you see pea-sized pieces of butter mixed in to the flour.  Don’t over mix.  Press the On button of the processor and slowly drizzle the ice-cold water into the feeding tube.  When the dough becomes a ball, stop the machine.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  (The dough won’t be smooth.  It’ll be sticky.  That’s okay.)  Place each piece of dough on plastic wrap and press into thick disks.  Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and chill for at least a half hour before rolling it out.  (Place the other piece of dough in a freezer bag and freeze for another pie. Thaw in the refrigerator before rolling out.)
Remove the dough disk from the fridge.  Lightly flour the counter.  Starting from the center of the disk, gently roll out the dough into a circle that is about 2 inches larger than the dish you plan to use.  Lightly sprinkle with flour as you roll out the dough.  Flip the dough over occasionally for easier rolling.  Before placing it in the 8 or 9-inch tart pan or pie dish, brush the excess flour off with a pastry brush.  (Too much flour on the dough makes it tough.)  Fold the dough in half and place it in the dish.  (Do not stretch the dough because that will make it really shrink.)  Fold the extra dough under or over the edge and crimp.  Prick the dough with a fork on the bottom and sides of the dough.  Place the plastic wrap back over the dish to keep the dough from drying out.  Put the dough in the refrigerator while the oven is preheating.
Preheat the oven to 450F degrees.  Remove the dish from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place a piece of foil that is larger than the dough inside the dish and then pour about 2 cups of dried beans into the dish over the foil.  Place the pie dough in the hot oven and set the timer for 12 minutes.  (The weight of the beans keeps the dough from puffing up.)
When the timer beeps, carefully remove the foil and beans from the dish.  (Keep the beans in a glass jar and reuse them as pie weights.)  Place the dough back into the oven and continue baking until it is golden brown all over.  Since ovens vary, you will need to check every two minutes or so.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool on a baking rack.
When the pie dough is cooled, fill it with Pastry Cream with Cognac* and top with your favorite fresh berries or fresh peaches. 

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