Vanilla Cream Tart with Fresh Fruit is beautiful. Stunning, even. This is the kind of tart that used to intimidate me as a home cook. I would convince myself that tarts of such magnitude were only possible in French patisseries or were reserved for trained pastry chefs.
And then, Ina convinced me otherwise. Tarts are nothing more than pies in a fancy pan. If you can make a pie, you can make a tart. Ina also showed me how to make pastry cream at home, opening up an entire world of dessert options I had previously considered out of reach.
Today I am sharing my recipe for Vanilla Cream Tart with Fresh Fruit, and I hope you too will be convinced that this is the kind of dessert you can make in your home kitchen. This tart in particular is simply a combination of elements that are easy to execute with only a bit of basic know-how.
The recipe is below, and if you are participating in the Pie Challenge, the exclusive video tutorial will land in your inbox tomorrow, guiding you through everything you need to know for tart success!
Vanilla Cream Tart with Fresh Fruit
for the crust…
- 1 1/4 cups finely ground Saltine cracker crumbs 4 ounces
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons 1/2 cup, 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
for the filling…
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- pinch of Kosher salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- as assortment of fresh fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi)
- 1/4 cup apricot jam
- Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and melted butter, stirring until evenly mixed. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of your desired pie or tart pan. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
- To make the filling, heat the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and the Kosher salt over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pay attention to the milk as it heats. You want it to be steaming, and just on the verge of simmering, but not actively boiling or bubbling.
- While the milk mixture heats, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the egg yolks, and the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Very gently combine with a whisk until the cornstarch is incorporated, then whisk vigorously for at least 1 minute until the mixture is pale yellow and expanded in volume.
- Once the milk mixture is steaming, add one ladle of milk to the egg yolk mixture, and stir to combine. Repeat this two more times, until about half of the hot milk mixture has been added to the eggs. Pour the now-warm egg yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk, and begin to whisk constantly. At this point, you are looking for a bubble to burst on the surface, the first sign that the mixture has reached its thickening point, but you really must keep whisking to prevent the bottom from scalding.
- Take a three second break to look for bubbles, and then continue whisking. Once you see a bubble burst on the surface, set a timer (or count in your head) for one minute. Whisk constantly during this minute! Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla, continuing to whisk until the butter is completely incorporated.
- Pour the hot pastry cream into the prepared crust, smooth it out evenly, and then top with a sheet of plastic wrap directly touching the filling.
- Refrigerate until firm, at least four hours, or up to two days.To finish the tart, top with an assortment of fresh fruit. For added shine, brush the fruit with a bit of apricot jam (warmed in the microwave to loosen it up). Slice and serve!