This to me is a quintessential summer dessert that celebrates summer's bounty of berries and fruits. I love all the components: a lightly-sweetened creamy custard offset with sweet tart fruits (in this case I used local Ontario strawberries and currants which are at their peak right now) all inside an almond tart crust that I absolutely adore because (1) it uses almond flour in addition to all-purpose flour which adds a lovely nuttiness not to mention a little nutritional boost from almond's heart-healthy properties if you are looking for any justification to eat these (you're welcome) and (2) it is a press-in dough which means you simply push it into the tart pans with your fingers. No rolling. No mess. Easy peasy!
MAKE AHEAD: The pastry cream can be made ahead up to 3 days chilled and stored in the fridge. The tart crust can also be made in advance after it is pressed into molds before baking, wrapped or stored inside ziptop bag in the freezer overnight.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Fluted tart pans with removable bottoms.
Summer Fruit Tarts in Almond Crusts
Recipe makes 6 x 4.5" tarts or 1 full size 9" tart. You may have some pastry cream leftover which is pretty great simply spooned over fresh fruits or how about french toast?
For the pastry cream filling:
1 1/2 C whole milk*
1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped (or 1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract)
3/4 C (139g) granulated sugar
1/4 C (35g) all-purpose flour
6 large egg yolks, room temperature, beaten lightly
1 C heavy cream*
*Alternatively, if I am short on time (lazy) I eliminate the last step of whipping and folding in the heavy cream, and instead use 2 1/2 C half & half in place of the whole milk but otherwise follow the exact same method.
For the crust: (adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour's recipe for Almond Tarts)
1/2 C (93g) granulated sugar
1/2 C (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature (left out for ~3 hrs)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C (187g) all-purpose flour
3/4 C (75g) almond flour (*not* almond meal which is not fine enough for this recipe)
Make the pastry cream:
1. In a medium pot, heat the milk with the scraped vanilla seeds and the pod (or vanilla bean paste or extract if that is what you are using) until just scalded but do not boil. Whisk in the flour and salt. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil ~ 10 minutes. Simmer for about a minute.
2. Temper the yolks by adding about half of the hot milk mixture into the yolks, in a slow stream and whisking constantly. Do this slowly so as to heat up the yolks but not cook them! Then pour all the yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk mixture. Heat gently over medium heat but do not boil. Stir constantly for about a minute, or until mixture is thickened and can coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat. Strain out any lumps.
3. Cool down slightly. Cover with a circle of parchment paper (or plastic wrap) touching the surface of the custard. Chill in the refrigerator for minimum 4 hours up to 3 days. When ready to fill tarts, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks and gently fold it into the cold custard.
Make the crust:
4. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, butter, salt and vanilla extract. Add the all-purpose flour and almond flour, stirring until it just makes crumbs that cling together when pressed together with your fingers.
5. Press onto bottoms and sides of 6 tartlet pans (4.5") or a full size 9" pan. Pans do not need to be greased. The dough will be crumbly but will form into a shell as you press it. Push and shape all the way around, ensuring no air pockets underneath the dough. Prick all over with a fork.
6. Freeze crusts for 15 minutes. If making ahead, you can wrap them in plastic or ziptop bags and keep them in the freezer overnight.
7. Preheat oven to 350f. Bake for 11-12 minutes when the edges are beginning to brown. Remove and cool on wire rack a few minutes before unmolding.
8. Once crusts are cooled completely, divide the pastry cream among the crust(s), leaving a bit of head room for when the fruits are added on top and fills up the tarts further. Top with your favorite fruits! I enjoy sweet but slightly tart fruits as it plays well against the creamy custard, but use any seasonal fruit that you love.