A tart with the sweet taste of summer
Homemade vaniljekrem makes this dessert rich on flavor, but goes easy on your wallet
Christy Olsen Field
I delight in the farmers market at this time of the year, when the long-awaited treasures appear in quick succession. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries—their jewel-like colors and sweet taste of sunshine is a celebration in every bite.
A few years ago, I took a class called “Sweet and Savory Tarts” at The Pantry Seattle. Tarts make a stunning and elegant presentation but are actually easier to make than pie. And the only special equipment you need is a tart pan with a removable bottom, which can be found online or at specialty kitchen stores. For me, nothing is better than a bærterte med hjemmelaget vaniljekrem, berry tart with homemade vanilla custard.
Vaniljekrem, or eggekrem, is a wonderfully versatile custard in many Norwegian desserts, from skolebrød to suksesskake. It’s velvety and barely sweet, which allows the other ingredients to shine. In Norway, you can buy it ready-made or from a powder, but it only takes a few minutes to make from scratch. Best of all, it requires only a handful of ingredients from the pantry and larder.
Note: Vanilla bean is definitely worth the extra expense here. You can find vanilla beans at well-stocked grocery stores (check the bulk section in the spices), but I like to order mine online from Amazon, such as Beanilla. You can substitute vanilla extract, but you’ll miss the distinctive, tiny vanilla bean flecks that make this dish extra special.
The components can be made the day before and assembled right before serving.
1 tart crust, baked and cooled (recipe follows)
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean (substitute 3 tsp. vanilla extract if you must)
6 egg yolks (reserve the whites for another use)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsps. cornstarch
2 cups fresh berries of your choice
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cream and milk. Fillet the vanilla bean lengthwise with a pairing knife, scrape out the seeds and add to the cream mixture. (Don’t throw away the spent bean—stick it in your sugar canister!) Heat to a gentle simmer, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes. Take care that it doesn’t boil over!
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath with cold water and ice cubes, and set aside.
Next, you are going to temper the eggs, which ensures that you end up with luscious custard instead of scrambled eggs in cream. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Do this two more times, one ladleful at a time and whisking constantly.
Once you have added about 1/3 of the cream to the eggs, quickly add the entire egg mixture into the cream. Cook the egg-cream mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Place the saucepan into the water bath so it can cool quickly. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the vaniljekrem so it doesn’t form a thick skin.
When you’re ready to assemble your tart, scoop the vaniljekrem into tart shell (which is already baked and cooled), and top with berries or whatever fruit is at its peak. Cut into slices, serve, and savor.
Makes a 10-inch tart.
Special equipment required: 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom (available online or kitchen stores).
Pâte sucrée—Sweet tart crust
Adapted from The Pantry Seattle (www.thepantryseattle.com)
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter (2 and 1/2 sticks), cool
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (use half as much if using table salt)
Note: Pâte sucrée is more forgiving than pie crust or flaky tart dough—think of it as a shortbread cookie dough enriched with an egg. You can pat it into tart pan, but I prefer the clean look of rolling it out. For a good how-to video, I recommend Martha Stewart’s video found here: tinyurl.com/jqtg8po.
Beat butter and sugar together until well blended. Add the egg, slowly. Add flour and salt and mix until it comes together in a smooth dough (like PlayDoh). Gather the dough into two thick disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least one hour. (You can freeze one disk for later!)
Now you are going to blind-bake the tart crust, since our filling doesn’t need to be baked. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out the dough and line your tart pan. Place in freezer for 15 minutes before baking. Line with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights. Do not skip the pie weights—they are crucial for the crust to not shrink during baking. I have found that dried beans work the best as pie weights and can be reused over and over. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Cool completely before assembling the tart.
Makes two 10-inch tarts.
Special equipment required: 10-inch tart pan, 2 pounds dried beans to use as pie weights.
Christy Olsen Field was on the editorial staff of the Norwegian American Weekly from 2008 to 2012, and the Taste of Norway page was her favorite section. Today, she is a freelance grantwriter for small to mid-size nonprofits with her business, Christy Ink. Learn more at www.christy.ink.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 12, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.