Fabulously Fresh Strawberry Tart
We were inspired by the wonderfully scrumptious strawberries our dear farmer friends Christelle and Antoin brought to us recently and wanted to serve them fresh but with something equally as delicious to compliment them. The crust recipe is inspired from Patricia Wells fruit tart recipe in her, at Home in Provence cookbook, which is essentially a shortbread cookie recipe - super easy and incredibly crisp and sweet.
The creamy lemon filling is a new creation which combines lemon curd and egg whites whipped into merangue - and folded gently together. This creates a light, melt in your mouth creamy filling.
Here we go:
unsalted butter to grease tart pan
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. pure almond extract
a pinch fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Lemon cream filling:
2 large eggs separated ( room temp)
1 teaspoon sugar for the yolks
2 tablespoons for the whites
juice ftom 1/2 lemon and zest
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Butter bottom and sides of tart pan.
3. In large bowl, combine butter and sugar and, with a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the almond extract, salt, flour, and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Do not let it form into a ball, it should just hold together. Transfer dough into the center of buttered tart pan and using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and sides of the pan. The dough will be quite thin.
Place the crust and tart pan into the freezer for 10 minutes.
4. Make you pastry cream - boil water in a Bain Marie. Start beating 2 egg yolks in the top half of the Bain Marie - off the heat to start, add 1 teaspoon sugar and beat to ribbon. Place the yolks bowl on top of the double boiler and continue whisking vigorously at all times - they will start to thicken and you need to now add the lemon juice and zest, take the mix off the heat to avoid and scrambled egg curds forming - you want tye heat to thicken not cook the egg yolks - put it back in the heat and keep whisking vigorously until you've got a thick Greek yogurt consistency. Remove from the boiling water and set aside to cool.
5. Whip the egg whites and sugar for 5-7 minutes in a kitchen Aid or a bit longer with a hand held mixer - until you have stiff glossy peaks.
Gently Fold together half of the whites with the lemon curd. You can certainly add more but this was the consistency we liked best. Place in the fridge until your ready to assemble your tart.
6. Bake the the shortbread crust in the center of the oven until the dough is slightly puffy and set about 12 to 15 minutes.
When your ready to serve assemble your tart by spreading the pastry cream on the tart crust and decorating generously with fresh strawberries on top! This can be done a day later as the pastry cream can keep for 24 hours or so!
Antoine and Christelle with their scrumptious strawberries