pring is just around the corner, and more importantly, summer is just a few short months away! In that spirit, Chef Molly sent along this mouthwatering recipe - a light, sweet and tangy tartlet to enjoy on a sunny day, perhaps with a glass of Moscato.
Berry Almond Bliss
Makes 12 individual tarts
Pastry brush (or any wide, flat, bristled paintbrush that hasn't been used for paint or chemicals)
Sharp paring knife
Ingredients - Shells
One package store-bought phyllo dough
One stick unsalted butter, melted
Almond Pastry Cream
1 1/2 T. almond paste (available at high-end grocery stores)
1 3/4 C. half and half
1/2 C. sugar
Small pinch salt
3 egg yolks
2 T. cornstarch
1 T. unsalted butter
2 baskets fresh strawberries
Barrel-aged balsamic vinegar, aged at least 15 years
1 bunch fresh basil
Pre-step - Preheat oven to temperature indicated on phyllo box, grease the muffin pan
1. Begin by opening your phyllo dough and unrolling the sheets. Place them on the side of your work space in a stack, covered with plastic wrap. You will keep this stack covered at all time to prevent drying out. Have your melted butter in a bowl with your brush.
2. Remove one sheet of dough from your stack and place it flat in front of you. Using your brush, paint melted butter over the entire surface of the dough.
3. Take your next sheet of dough and place it directly on top of your first, and paint it with butter as you did before.
4. Repeat twice more, giving you a stack of 4 sheets of phyllo dough layered with butter.
5. Using your ruler and the tip of your sharp paring knife, cut your stack into 4 inch squares, and fit them into the cups in your muffin pan, then cover the pan with plastic wrap while you repeat Steps 2-5 until you have 12 cups shaped. Uncover and bake as directed, until golden brown. Let them cool before you fill them.
Almond Pastry Cream
1. Combine sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a bowl, mix thoroughly. Add egg yolks and whisk until the mixture lightens in color and is slightly ribbony.
2. Combine almond paste and half and half in a small saucepan, bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
3. Slowly pour the hot liquids into the egg mixture, whisking as you do so. Begin with a small amount and add gradually. Once mixed, return your cream to the pot over medium heat.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil gently. Stir constantly with your rubber scraper, scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. It will thicken as it heats. Once large bubbles begin to pop at the surface, remove from heat and strain into a bowl.
5. Stir your pastry cream to cool it for a minute or two, then drop in your butter and stir until incorporated.
6. Using a tablespoon, drop dallops of cream evenly between all your shells. Cover them with plastic wrap so that it is touching the surface of the cream (prevents skin formation) and transfer to the refrigerator.
1. Wash, stem, and quarter your berries. If they are not sweet enough, toss with white sugar as desired. Be aware that the more sugar you add, the more syrupy the berries will become.
2. Pick about a dozen large leaves from the basil and stack them. Gently roll the stack up into a tube and with a very sharp knife, slice the tube into very thin slices. After slicing, gently fluff the basil with your fingers.
3. Top each tart with a spoonful of berries.
4. Give them a light drizzle of balsamic, and a small pinch of the basil.
Unfilled shells can be stored up to one week in an airtight container.
Shells can be filled one day in advance, store refrigerated.
If a well-aged balsamic vinegar is not available, simply reduce any balsamic over medium-high heat with some sugar, to taste.