Picture this – it’s a balmy summer day, early afternoon. There’s a faint breeze. It’s warm, fragrant. You’re relaxed against the tickly long grass, your feet bathing in the sunshine. And packed in your bag, a picnic lunch. Cold cuts, a crusty loaf of bread, crunchy salads. And to finish off, these little tartlets. Crisp pastry, cool creamy créme mousseline, and the juiciest of the season’s strawberries.
I used my favourite rich buttery pastry recipe. Pierre Hermé, Christophe Felder, and Dorie Greenspan in Paris Sweets all have a recipe for this, in startlingly similar proportions, so there must be something to it.
Aside from this, I used the créme mousseline recipe from Paris Sweets, and finished off with some beautifully sweet local strawberries from the market. Finally, I garnished the tarts with a sprinkling of chopped green pistachios, and a lick of raspberry glaze for extra shine.
These tarts are best assembled just before eating. As there were only a few mouths this week, I only made 3 tarts. Despite Dorie advising us not to reduce the quantity of créme mousseline, I reduced it by one-third because I didn’t have enough milk anyways, and it turned out fine.
Strawberry tarts are an excellent recipe to assemble in parts. I made up the pastry on Sunday, and popped it into the fridge to chill. On Monday I made up the créme patissière, and lined my tart tins with pastry. On Tuesday, I baked up the tarts, added the extra butter into the créme patissière to turn it into a créme mousseline, and voila.
The créme mousseline caused me a little angst because when I first beat in the butter, it looked curdled and yellow – not the light cream I had envisaged. However, turns out it’s just like crème au beurre, and just requires a lot of patience, and hard work from your electric whisk. Eventually, the curdled mixture metamorphosised into the lightest of pale silky creams.
I also didn’t have any redcurrant jelly handy for the glaze, so did this instead: mixed a spoonful of raspberry jam with a spoonful of liquid glucose. Heated it until liquid, added a squeeze of lemon juice, and then sieved through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of the lumpy bits.
I’ve made many a strawberry tart before in my lifetime, but these were officially the best ever. It was unbelieveable how light the créme mousseline was, and it beautifully enhanced the crispness of the pastry, and sweetness of the strawberries. The pistachios, as well as adding a little sprinkle of greenery, also added extra flavour and textural contrast. A true taste of summer holidays in France, in the form of these very summery sweet tarts to enjoy!