Strawberry white chocolate tart
According to family legend, my mother ate a quart of strawberries each day when she was pregnant with me. One of the nice things about a June birthday! To this day I love strawberries, and so do my boys. I could bring home two quarts of strawberries, and they’d eat them before I even had a chance to wash them, if I let them. So I don’t get to make fancy strawberry desserts very often. There’s something so plump and rosy and youthful about strawberries, that it’s no wonder Ingmar Bergman employed them as his time-travelling device in Wild Strawberries.
I’m fascinated by the idea of food as a trigger of memory, and I love films that explore memory and dreams, so this scene is one of my favorites. I love his quiet, gentle voice. He’s telling his own story, so he can slow time, and move through it with dream-like ease. And with the odd logic of dreams, he can’t speak to the people that his memory conjures, though he can witness scenes he missed in real life. I love that he’s dressed in dark clothes, and stands in a quiet, darkened hall, but the glow of whitewashed memory washes over him from the bright, busy room he’s looking into. Beautiful! Perhaps this tart is one they might have made for somebody’s name day, on a lovely summer day by the sea. It’s quite simple…a cookie-like crust with dark cocoa and hazelnuts (nutella combination!) is filled with white chocolate pastry cream, and fresh, unsweetened strawberries. It’s like a white-chocolate covered strawberry in tart form. It was fun to watch the boys eat this – the pastry cream is soft and slippery, the crust is a little crunchy, and the strawberries plump and ripe. An alternative preparation would be to fold some unsweetened whipped cream into the pastry cream before you spread it into the tart shell, which would make it like the pretty pavlova cakes I used do dream about as a child!
Here’s Shuggie Otis with Strawberry Letter #23
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup hazelnuts – ground
1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa
a few grindings black pepper
1 stick cold butter cut into small squares
Combine all of the dry ingredients. Work the butter in until the dough has a crumb-like consistency. Stir in the egg. Knead for a few minutes, till the egg is well incorporated. It will be quite a sticky dough. Butter and flour a tart pan. Press the dough into the pan, making the bottom quite thin, and working it up the edges. Put in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, till it feels hard and smooth when you touch it lightly. Let cool completely.
WHITE CHOCOLATE PASTRY CREAM
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 t vanilla
2 T flour
1 cup white chocolate chips.
Warm the milk and vanilla in a medium-sized saucepan till it has bubbles on the surface. Melt the chocoalte chips in a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water. Don’t let the water get into the chips or they’ll seize up.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, salt and sugar together till light and frothy. When the milk is warm, pour it in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking furiously the whole time. Pour it back into the saucepan, return it to medium heat, and whisk until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. When you tilt the pan, the mixture will pull away from the bottom in clean patches, when everything is done. Pour the mixture into a clean cool bowl. Whisk in the white chocolate. Set the bowl in the fridge to cool completely.
Spread a layer of pastry cream on the bottom of the tart shell. 1/3 inch deep should do it. Cut the strawberries into slices and arrange them prettily on the surface of the cream.
Chill for a few hours before eating.