CREME BRULEE TART
- 6 6 6egg yolks
- 1/2 .5 .5cup CUP_USVolumesugar
- 3 3 3cups CUP_USVolumeheavy cream
- 1 1 1vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 7 7 7tablespoons TABLESPOON_USVolumeunsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 .5 .5pound POUNDWeightPuff Pastry (see “Bakery”)
- 1/2 .5 .5cup CUP_USVolumebite-sized mixed fresh fruit, such as sliced strawberries, apricots, ripe pears, raspberries, or blueberries (1/2 cup - 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 .5 .5cup CUP_USVolumesugar
- At least 8 hours ahead or the night before, make the Crème Brulée: In a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water but not touching the water, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is light and thick enough to form a ribbon. This takes quite a long time; be strong and patient. Remove the bowl from the heat.
- Carefully whisk in the cream. Add the vanilla bean. Place the bowl back over the saucepan, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and checking that the water does not boil. The custard will be done when the mixture is thick enough to adhere to the spoon without dripping. When the custard is done, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter, a little at a time, until all of it has been incorporated. Pour and press the custard through a fine strainer into a bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
- To make the Tart, on a floured work surface roll out the Puff Pastry to a thickness of 1/4 inch and pierce it all over with the tines of a fork. Place a large flan ring on a baking sheet. Gently roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, then transfer it to the flan ring. Unroll the pastry onto the ring, press the pastry down into its side and bottom, and then roll the rolling pin firmly over the ring’s rim to trim off excess pastry. Chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line the chilled pastry shell with parchment paper or coffee filters and fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans that you reserve for baking purposes. Bake the pastry shell for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove the shell from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Remove the pie weights and paper.
- Distribute the fruit evenly over the bottom of the pastry shell, then pour in the chilled custard. Smooth the top with a long-bladed spatula.
Just before serving, heat a caramel iron on the burner of a stove. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top and carefully caramelize the sugar with the hot iron. Alternately, place the tart under a hot broiler, near the heat, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes. Or use a small blow torch to caramelize the sugar, following the manufacturer’s directions. To serve, cut the tart into wedges, using a sharp knife and striking it firmly but carefully downward to break through the caramel topping.
I love the vanilla-scented, caramel-topped custard known as crème brulée, and found that one of the best ways to prepare and serve it is in a crisp puff pastry shell with a hidden layer of fresh fruit. The "caramel iron" I refer to in step 7 below is a small iron attached to a long handle that doesn’t conduct heat; you heat the iron on a stovetop burner, then hold it close to a granulated sugar topping to melt and caramelize the sugar. You can find these devices in well-stocked kitchenware shops, where you’re also likely to discover small, hand-held blowtorches especially made to caramelize sugar for this popular dessert. Whichever implement you use, please handle it with great caution!