Tart Tales

The inspiration for this tart came from an unlikely source.

My creme brulee blow torch – it’s such an exciting little gadget! The first time I saw it on a cookery show I knew I had found my favorite kitchen device. I just had to have it! The husband though, honestly believes I’ll burn the house down with it if I’m not supervised. His supreme confidence in me and my fear of custards has kept me from trying this recipe for a loooong time.

But if you ask me, not making a tart when you’ve just bought a tart pan AND have all the ingredients on hand, is downright silly! So I mentally brushed my husband’s dire warnings aside, swallowed my fears and set forth.

The Creme Brulee Tart is the first of many tarts to come. It is a bit rough around the edges but boy, does it taste good!

So go ahead, be brave and give this tart a shot 🙂 The instructions make it look involved and complicated but I promise you……it’s a pretty straightforward process.

You’ll need

For the tart shell
  • 1 1/4 cups All purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 cup Cold unsalted butter cut into cubes (you can use salted butter here. Make sure to leave out the salt if you do)
  • 5 tbsp Ice water

For the custard

  • 1 1/4 cups Heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup Whole milk
  • 4 Egg yolks
  • 1 Whole egg
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla essence

Special equipment

Tart pan of 9 inch diameter with a removable base, cling film, dried beans and a blow torch

Process

Tart Shell
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and mix it in with your finger tips or give it a quick spin in your food processor/blender. The mixture should resemble fine bread crumbs at this stage.

Add cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix it into the flour. Squeeze a small handful of the dough in your palm and if it holds together, you’re done. Do not overmix!Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour.

Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius.
Take the cold pastry dough out. Place it between two layers of clingfilm. This will make rolling and transferring to the pan a breeze! Roll the dough out evenly to a circle about 13 inches in diameter. You do not have to be very precise here. Just make sure you roll it out as evenly as you can into a circle which is slightly bigger than your tart pan. If the dough gets too soft, gather it into a ball and chill again till it is firm enough to work with.
Remove the top layer of the cling film and using the bottom layer as support, invert the rolled out dough onto the pan. Lift the overhanging bits of dough and press them down along the sides of the pan. Run your finger tips or your rolling pin along the edge of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Remove the cling film and chill dough for another 30 minutes.

Prick the bottom of the pastry shell all over with a fork – this prevents the pastry from bubbling up. Line the pastry shell with aluminium foil, fill it with any type of dried beans (rajma, channa or even rice) and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. This is called BLIND BAKING and allows the shell to firm up before you  pour the custard in.
UPDATE: Take the pan out of the oven, carefully remove the dried beans from the shell and bake it again for a further 15 minutes till the entire pie crust becomes golden brown. This step ensures that the pie crust does not get too soggy and stays evenly firm and crisp along the base of the tart as well! 
Filling
Combine milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer on the stove stop. Remove from the heat and let it steep for about half an hour.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, egg, sugar and salt. Whisk the milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture till thoroughly combined. Strain this custard through a fine meshed sieve and set aside.
Assembly

Reduce the oven temperature to 150 degree Celsius
Place the chilled tart pan with the pastry shell onto a cookie tray. Pour the custard into the pan till the top (I had some filling left over after this) and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until it is just set but still wobbly in the center. Remove the tart from the cookie tray and let it cool to room temperature. Chill it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Just before serving, sprinkle some sugar evenly on the surface of the tart and move the flame of the blowtorch evenly on the surface till the sugar caramelizes. You can see I have some burnt spots on mine but hey, it only means I need more practice and this thing is fun!
Cut yourself a slice.

The combination of textures – the buttery flakiness of the crust, the smoothness of the custard and the crunchiness of the caramelized sugar – makes for one BIG PARTY in your mouth! You cant help getting addicted 😉 
Note: This recipe has been adapted from the original recipe for creme brulee tart as posted on Epicurious
You can make this tart without a blow torch as well. Just sprinkle sugar onto the finished tart and place it under the broiler in your oven till the sugar caramelizes. 

4 thoughts on “Tart Tales

  1. Hi Nayna! Thank you for visiting and this recipe is indeed simple. So easy to play with sweetness and flavors here. I am not familiar with a soldering gun at all. If it has a controllable flame which can be directed over a small area, it should work. I suggest testing it out on a tiny portion of the tart first.
    Hope it works! Please do let me know how it goes 🙂

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