Vanilla Brûlée Tarts with Strawberry Purée

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    20

Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

It is not uncommon to be served a classic vanilla brûlée in a restaurant with fresh strawberries served on the side. This version is the classic brûlée piped into a tart shell with strawberry purée in the bottom containing the whole dessert in a neat and edible package. If you prefer, you can bake the custard on its own in ramekins and caramelise the top to make a classic crème brûlée. Much the same as the ginger brûlée tarts, this filling can be tricky to get right.

Ingredients

Strawberry Purée

  • 250 g (9 oz/1⅔ cups) strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 120 g ( oz) caster (superfine) sugar

Crème Brûlée Custard

  • 720 ml (25 fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 80 g ( oz/ cup) caster (superfine) sugar, plus extra for burning
  • 1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry

Method

To make the strawberry purée, put the strawberries and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

To make the crème brûlée custard, put the cream into a saucepan, scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the cream and add the bean. Bring to the boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and use a whisk to combine. Add the sugar and continue whisking for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the slightly cooled cream through a fine sieve, discarding the vanilla bean, then pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring well to combine.

Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water, and continue stirring with a whisk for about 10–15 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and thick, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula. It is important to keep stirring at all times or the mixture will curdle. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk briskly for about 2 minutes to cool it quickly. Over the next 1 hour, whisk the mixture every 10 minutes until cooled. Use a rubber spatula to clean the side of the bowl thoroughly and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture; refrigerate overnight to set.

Follow the instructions to roll out the pastry and use it to line twenty 8 cm ( inch) round fluted loose-based tart tins. Set the pastry cases in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

Blind bake the tart cases in a preheated 200°C (400°F/Gas 6) oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

To assemble the tarts, spoon about ¾ teaspoon of strawberry purée in the centre of the base of each tart shell. Pipe custard into the tart shells with a piping (icing) bag fitted with a plain nozzle — you should just slightly overfill the filling in each one. With a small palette knife, scrape the custard to be flush with the top of the tart shell. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon caster sugar onto the top of the custard and burn with a blowtorch until it caramelises If you don’t have a blowtorch the tarts are still very tasty without the extra sugar and burning.

Variation

To make classic crème brûlées, preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F/Gas 1). Use the recipe and method above for making the crème brûlée custard, but after mixing the cream into the yolk mix, pour the warm custard into ten ½-cup ramekins, until full. Place the ramekins in a deep baking tray and pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, or until just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons caster sugar over the top of each ramekin and burn the top with a blowtorch until it caramelises.