Today I found myself thinking about my previous travels in Europe. Specifically, I was thinking about the bakeries. I'm not sure what got me started, but I couldn't stop thinking about the beautiful pastries that call out to me when I'm traveling overseas. The urge was pretty strong, so I decided I might as well try to make a special dessert to go with our dinner tonight.
Whether you're in a large city or a tiny village, there are certain treats that seem to be in every bakery window. The fruit tarts always look the best to me, with the shiny, colorful fruit covering the delicious custard and flaky crust. I really don't do much baking, but the ambitious baker hidden within me decided I needed to make one of these tarts to enjoy at home.
Making the crust wasn't too bad, but it did end up drier than I expected. I did the best I could to make it stick together, but rolling it out just wasn't happening. I ended up lifting the tart crust into tart pan, and just using my fingers to push it to the edges of the pan. I also didn't read the directions closely enough, so my larger tart pan meant the crust did not go up the sides of the pan as expected. Still, the crust came out of the oven looking as expected, and I moved on to the next step.
The pastry cream (like a custard) was pretty easy to put together. I used vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, because I'm too cheap to buy real vanilla beans. I know, a good cook should use vanilla beans, but I'm trying to keep my grocery budget under control. The custard was thick and tasted unbelievably decadent, and at this point I knew the end result would be a good one.
The last step was putting it all together, and this is where you creative types could get all fancy. I'm not the most artistically inclined person, so concentric circles was my stab at pastry art. Slightly crooked, but I was still pretty proud of myself :) The final product was one of the best looking creations I've ever made, and I had a hard time cutting the first slice. One taste, though, and I was ready to eat the whole thing! Tonight's tart was just a random treat for Joe and I, but I have a feeling this dessert will show up again at an upcoming dinner party. I can't keep this pretty treat just for us!
To keep this from being too long a post, I'll just tell you the recipe is from Joy of Baking online. The full recipe can be found here.