Monday, May 20, 2013

Strawberry Basil Tart (A Food Revolution Day Experiment)

Strawberry season is here!  If you have bought strawberries at the store lately, you would know because right now they are succulent, juicy, and sweet.  When The Dutch brought home a boxful of strawberries, what else is a girl to do than to make strawberry cream pie?  And since Friday was Food Revolution Day, what better way to celebrate and indulge than by making an exquisite summer dessert from (semi) scratch?

I'm not very savvy at baking.  I could whip up dinners and brunches without much flinching, but baking intimidates me.  It seems so technical and precise - measurements, temperatures, textures, etc.  But I love me a good, rich, plate of sweetness.  Who doesn't?  

I braved baking and it actually turned out really good!  Here's the recipe for a simple, easy-to-make Strawberry Basil Pastry.  (This is an adaptation of a recipe I've found on the web:

What I loved about making this is that there was room for improvisation.  Also, since a mind-blowing strawberry-basil sorbet I tried at Bowl last summer, I cannot wait to try the unusual combination again.  

So here we are.  You will need:

If you are feeling over-zealous, feel free to make your own pastry from scratch.  I bought frozen ones from Trader Joe's and they taste absolutely amazing.  There's two in a box so you could save one for making a quiche the next go-around!  Absent of Trader Joe's pastry dough, I would encourage you to make from scratch.  

[Pastry Cream]
  • 2 cups of whipping cream, organic, preferably
  • A dollop of vanilla extract, about 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup of sugar.  If you're using Stevia, use 1/4 cup
  • 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • Another 1/2 cup sugar, or you can reduce to 1/4 cup if you're watching your sugar
  • A dollop of softened butter
  • Sliced strawberries and chopped up basil if you dare
Now get your game face and roll your sleeves up.  Time for big business.

1.  Roll out the pastry dough using a rolling pin.  Fit into a round pie pan.  Cover with foil.  The pros say that you're supposed to put some pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice over the foil.  I skipped this since I wasn't planning on entering my pastry to any baking contests.  
2.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 375 F.  You'll know it's done when you prick the bottom with a fork and the dough doesn't stick to the fork.
3.  Meanwhile, mix the whipping cream, 1/2 cup of sugar and vanilla extract in a saucepan.  Bring to a slow boil.  Stir with a wooden spoon here and there to make sure it doesn't burn and stick to the bottom.
4.  In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks, egg, and the rest of the sugar.  When thoroughly mixed, add the cornstarch, then whisk some more.  
5.  When the whipping cream is hot enough, add to the egg mixture slowly.  You have to keep whisking so the egg mixture doesn't cook.  This is custard, not scrambled eggs. :) 
6.  Whisk together then pour everything back to the saucepan and return to heat.  Keep stirring.  The hotter the mixture gets, the more it will harden.  
7.  Remove from heat as soon as you have a pudding-like consistency.  Add the softened butter and mix well.  
8.  Et voila!  Your custard is done!  Chuck in the fridge so it cools.  
9.  Or, if you're impatient like we were, smother the custard all over the now cooled pastry crust.  Slice up your strawberries and gingerly lay them on top of the custard.  If you are curious to try it, chop up some fresh basil and scatter around the custard filling with your strawberries. ;)  
10.  This plate is best served chilled.  You can cheat though and put in the freezer for half an hour then slice it up!  Otherwise, you can just keep in the fridge and wait to enjoy your beautiful pastry dessert in a few hours!

Bon appetit!

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