Friday, February 5, 2010

Custard Tartlets

It’s hard to describe how incredibly, mind-numbingly good these little Custard Tartlets are. They look innocent enough, nothing more than a flaky buttery crust with some luscious pastry cream tucked inside. But oooh-me-oooh-my do they ever pack a ton of flavor and satisfaction in a very little bite. I’ve never considered myself a custard person, but that may be about to change.

I’ve been wanting to make these for a long time, but just never made a point of doing it. Since my two best dim sum buddies were coming to dinner, I realized I must try to duplicate their favorite little nibble at the end of our Sunday morning feasts. Now I’m wondering what took me so long to experience this magic. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. It’s no wonder that some version of them are found in many different cultures. They are even said to have been served at the coronation banquet of King Henry IV in 1399. I think I now very clearly understand the expression, fit for a king!

Bench notes:
- You can make both the pastry dough and the cream and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- When rolling out the pastry, always rotate the dough after each roll to make sure it isn't sticking. Gently lift with a dough scraper or spatula if necessary. A piece of parchment helps to cut down on the amount of flour you use.
- This is a luscious pastry cream that you could use on its own unbaked. Creamy with great flavor, it can serve as a filling for cakes or a little garnish for cookies and fruits. The rum adds a richness without tasting of alcohol.
- These tartlets should be eaten on the same day they are baked.

Custard Tartlets
Makes 12 tartlets

Pâte Brisée

1 1/4 C flour
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
4 oz (1 stick) cold butter
1/4 C cold water

Pastry Cream

1 C milk
1/4 C + 2 T sugar
3 yolks
1 T cornstarch
1 t flour
1/2 t vanilla
1 t rum
1/2 T butter

For the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and combine. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add. Pulse a few times just until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces and the mixture resembles a very coarse meal. Add the cold water and pulse just until the mixture starts to clump. Pour the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather it into a flattened disc. Wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

Place the dough on a piece of parchment or work surface lightly dusted with flour. Let it sit for a few minutes to take the chill off. Roll out to a thin sheet, nearly 1/16" or so. Cut out a dozen 3 1/2” circles and tuck each into a standard muffin pan. Chill while you make the pastry cream.

Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until combined. Add the cornstarch and flour and whisk thoroughly.
Pour about half the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the remaining milk and combine thoroughly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly for a couple of minutes until thickened and smooth.
Take off the heat and add the vanilla, rum and butter. Stir until smooth.
Place a piece of plastic on the surface and let cool.

Preheat the over to 350 degrees.
Prick the bottom of the tart shells with a fork. Bake for about 12 minutes or until slightly browned and crisp.

Remove from the oven and scoop the pastry cream into the pastry shells.
Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes.

Eat them quickly before you have a chance to come to your senses.


Dawn said...

i made a banana custard once for a tarlette and ate way too many of them. the end result was good, but so much hard work getting the banana to a nice, easy to use liquid state.
i love all custard tarts...yours looks very good.

Lucie said...

These seem like the Portugese pasteis de nata which are served sprinkled with good!!! I don't think eating them beyond the first day would be a problem, having some left beyond the first hour would be my issue!

VelezDelights said...

This looks delicious! I've tried fruit-flavored custard tartlets before, but never this kind. I'll have to try it out soon ♥ (@StephanieVelezR)

香水 said...
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Barbara said...

I'm a custard freak. Love things like floating island, fruit tarts with pastry cream, anything that involves custard, pastry cream, or creme anglaise.
And I also think the best part of any pie is the long as it's nice and this has got to be a combination not only fit for a king, but a perfect fit for me!

Jen said...

I made these for New Year! Holy cow! Thank you for the inspiration. I've linked back to this page for the recipe on my lil' blogette.