My third post in less than 10 days! This must be some kind of record. It feels good to get back into blogging and getting a rhythm going again. So like I mentioned last week, I helped co-organize a dessert charity event called Sweet Sensations to benefit the non-profit Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP). The event was an amazing success but I have never been so stressed or tired. I was running around like a crazy lady the day before the event making sure all last minute details were taken care of. Despite the madness and the down-to-the-wire preparations, I had a great experience and so much fun doing everything. Thanks to Hazel and Lillian for being such great co-organizers and I would work with you two again in a heart beat.
All the desserts made by the seven other bakers were to die for and it was an amazing experience baking and swapping recipes with these talented gals. Here is a peak at some of the delicious desserts from the event – including Banana Pudding with Nutella Mousse, Wasabi and Crystallized Ginger Brownies, Springtime Rainbow Cookies, Matcha Pots de Creme, Smoked Sumatra Cupcakes, Sweet and Savory Gluten-Free Scones, and Grasshopper Bars that I somehow failed to take a picture of probably because I was too busy stuffing my face with them.
I decided on a lemon-lavender pastry cream because I wanted something that was flagrant and light to complement the seasonal fresh fruit. The result was light and decadent at the same time. I used blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries but any type of fresh berries will work. It’s the perfect spring time dessert and actually quite easy to put together (as long as you’re not making 80 individual tarts).
I used two whole eggs and whole milk for the pastry cream instead of egg yolks and heavy cream to achieve a lighter texture. I was initially worried the custard would not be creamy enough but the outcome was perfect and I will never go back to egg yolks or heavy cream again. You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract instead of using lemon juice and lavender. I actually had a hard time finding culinary grade lavender so I turned to trustworthy Amazon. I got a huge 1/2 pound bag of culinary grade lavender for only $8. This means you should expect a post on lemon-lavender shortbread and honey lavender ice cream in the upcoming weeks.
For the Fruit Tart
- 1 fully baked and cooled Pate Brisee tart shell
- 2 cups pastry cream, cold
- 2 cup fresh mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries)
- powdered sugar
To prepare the fruit tart, fill the fully baked and cooled tart shell with the chilled pastry cream. Do not overfill the tart, you want to leave some room for the berries.
Cover the pastry cream with fresh mixed berries. Finish off the fruit tart by garnishing with powdered sugar right before serving. Do not add the powdered sugar too early or the moisture from the berries will melt the powdered sugar.
The tart is best eaten the day of or else the pastry cream will soften the tart shell.
For the Lemon Lavender Pastry Cream
(makes enough to fill one 9-inch tart)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon culinary grade lavender flowers
- 3 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- juice from half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat the milk, salt, and lavender flowers in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally to make sure the milk does not burn.
In another bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the eggs and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.
When the milk is ready, remove from the heat immediately and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Slowly ladle about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk and pour the entire mixture back into the medium saucepan.
Heat the egg-milk mixture over medium-high heat until the cream is thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. The cream should resemble lightly whipped cream and the mixture should have just reached the boiling point. You want to see a few small bubbles in order for the cornstarch to cook and thicken fully but you do not want the mixture to boil vigorously or the cream will curdle.
Once the cream is ready, remove from the heat immediately and pour into a separate bowl to let it cool down. Do not keep the custard in the hot pan or it will continue to cook.
Let the cream cool 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and whisk the butter into the pastry cream 1-tablespoon at a time. Make sure to whisk until smooth before adding the next tablespoon.
The pastry cream should be shiny, smooth, and creamy at this point. To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cool for up to 5 days.