Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blackberry, blackberry, blackberry

We seem to be at the peak of a Mexican blackberry glut here in the U.S., with really nice blackberries showing up at Trader Joe's in New York for $3 a 12 oz. box. We've made blackberry muffins, blackberry clafoutis, blackberry martinis, and today we're having a blackberry tart. Here's a basic recipe that will work with just about any fruit that isn't hard like an apple, but if you wanted to make an apple or pear tart, you could steam, parboil, or saute the fruit to get it to the right consistency, so that the fruit won't be undercooked when the custard sets.

You can even use canned fruit. I've done this with canned mangosteen, which isn't commonly available fresh in New York. If you do use canned fruit, pour the syrup into a pan or a pot and boil it down to about half its volume, and pour it over the tart as a glaze when it comes out of the oven.

Shortbread crust: This all should be done quickly without handling the dough more than necessary. You want to keep it cool. Sift 1 cup of pastry flour into a bowl and cream a half cup (one stick) of cold butter in a stand mixer if you have one, or with a wooden spoon in a bowl. You can also grate the zest of half a lemon or lime or a whole key lime into the butter, if you like. Toss the butter in the flour, make a well in the center, and add an egg, a half cup of sugar, and a little vanilla extract, and mix by hand quickly with a pastry blender or two table knives just until it all comes together to form a dough. Flatten into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg. F, and roll out the dough to fill a 10-inch tart pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake the shell for about 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Right when it comes out of the oven, if the sides have sunk, you can use the tip of the handle of a knife to push the sides back up a bit. Cool in the pan on a rack and turn the oven down to 350 deg. F.

Custard: Bring 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to a boil, either in a pot or the microwave is handy for this (about 2-3 min.). With a mixer or a whisk, beat four eggs and about 1/3 cup of sugar, and as the eggs start to thicken, add the hot milk mixture in a slow stream while beating continuously.

Put it all together: Arrange the berries or other fruit in the tart shell.

Here's a great trick from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook--Put the shell on the oven rack with the rack pulled halfway out, supporting the rack with one hand so that it stays level, and pour the custard over the fruit just until it reaches the top of the shell. Close the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.

You'll probably have some custard left over for some extra treats. Pour it into some small ramekins or coffee cups, and when there's 20 minutes left on the timer, put them in the oven. Remove the tart and the custards when just set, taking care not to overcook them. Let the tart sit at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

For crème brûlée--If you've got a torch, refrigerate the extra custards, and spoon about a teaspoon of sugar on top of each one and melt the sugar when ready to serve.

2 comments:

Family of Food said...

Lovely post, Brother. I will try this.

MandiCrocker said...

Ooooh, that looks delicious. :)

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