Here is my recipe for one of my favorites desserts, it is inspired by my brother Pierre who is a very gifted cook and makes amazing dishes with his usual chic and exceptionally naughty taste!
There are two major secrets in this recipe. Once you know them, you start to understand French pâtisserie (pastry) much better:
– the special French crust which is crispy, sweet and slightly caramelized.
– the dash of Rum in the crème pâtissière which is a thick custard or cream used for French pastries (to fill profiteroles, éclairs, serve as a tart base, etc)
This recipe is very easy to make. If you are in a hurry, skip the hour in the fridge, the texture of the crust will be a bit less crunchy and the rolling will be a bit trickier but who cares, we all love funny shaped desserts :)
- 1 egg
- 120g cold butter
- 250g flour
- 1 tbs (env 12 g) caster sugar
- 1 tbs brown or raw sugar
- Pinch of salf
- 3 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 100ml water
- 35g corn flour
- 80g sugar
- 20g butter
- 1 cap or tbs of nice brown rum
- Strawberries of cours or any fruit really :)
- Pastry: In a bowl put the flour and the cold butter cut in cubes. Add the pinch of salt.
- With your hands, rub the ingredients between your palms until you get a sandy texture. I remember my grand-mother doing that very quickly.
- Add the water and the egg. With the tip of your fingers, work the dough to make a ball but do not overwork it. If you keep it a bit crumbly not to play-dohy. If it is too "worked" it will be too hard when cooked.
- Wrap the ball in plastic film or put it in a zipped plastic bag or even wrap it in a humid tea towel. Put it in the fridge for at least 50 mins.
- You can freeze it at this stage too or keep it for up to 2 days in the fridge.
- Cream: Pour the water and milk in a pan with a spoon of natural vanilla extract (I rarely have pods because they dry up in the fridge or might get mouldy). Bring it to the boil and take it off the fire. Put it aside for a few minutes with a lid on the saucepan to infuse the vanilla without evaporating the milk. If you want a very intense vanilla flavour, prepare the milk and vanilla 1 day in advance and let is rest 24 hours in the fridge with a lid on. If you are in a hurry. Don't wait :)
- In a bowl, whisk the yolks with sugar until light yellow and creamy.
- Add the corn flour. Whisk.
- If the warm milk mix has been waiting with it's lid on, reheat it until it simmers. If you are in a hurry, skip the vanilla infusion part, and just pour the boiled milk over the egg mix very slowly starting with a few drops which you will mix very energetically. Pour more and more, whisk fast until you have poured the whole liquid.
- Put everything back in the pan. Bring to the boil while whisking vigorously to avoid the cream to stick at the bottom of the pan and burn.
- It will start to thicken very quickly. When it's reached a thick custard feel, take it off the fire. Pour the content in a bowl and let it cool for about 15 mins.
- When you feel (with your finger, yum!) that it has reached a warmish stage but is not too hot any more, add the butter. Whisk it to melt it (see, the butter needs to melt, so don't let it cool too much) it will make the cream silky smooth.
- With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl clean and arrange the cream to be flat in the bowl. Place some plastic film over it, touching the cream all over. It will avoid a dry skin to form on top.
- Put it in the fridge until cold.
- Pastry: Pre-heat oven at 180°C (356°F). Take your ball of dough out of the fridge. Place baking paper (parchment) on your bench longer than the size of the circle of pastry you want to achieve. Cut another piece of parchment the same size. Put your dough in the middle of the first sheet, place the second on top and with a rolling pin, flatten the dough to 4 to 5mm (0,16 to 0,2in) thick in a circle (or rectangle if you have a fancy rectangle mould). As I am not much of an artist in tart presentation... I create a very organic roundish shape which will fit in my oven tray. Feel free to create any fancy shape (heart, rabbit, turtle, flower, etc.)
- Place the flat pastry in the oven tray grabbing the baking paper on both sides. With a fork, prick the dough all over, leaving no large space untouched to prevent the pastry from raising. Spread a spoon of raw or brown sugar on it.
- Bake the "empty" crust it until golden.
- Slip the pastry on a nice serving plate. Leave it to cool.
- Cream: When the pastry is cool. Take the cream bowl out of the fridge. Pour rum in the bottle's cap. and then pour it on the cream. Whisk it very well to give it a smooth aspect (the cream looks a bit hard when it comes out of the fridge).
- Spread the cream on the crust leaving an inch free all around.
- Place your chosen fruits and enjoy!
- NOTES: you can chose another alcohol such as Kirsch or Whisky or Cognac. You can also leave it as is, the vanilla flavour is delicious. Rum adds the French touch though. If the fresh fruits are way to expensive, use good canned peaches or mangos, cut them in the shape you want, bite size is good or thin and long (easy to cut). If you are after a fancy finish on fresh berries. Take a few big spoons of strawberry gelee (jam that has not fruit bits in it, only jellified fruit juice). Melt it in a pan and spread it as a shiny "pâtisserie" finish on the fruits with a pastry brush.