May 4, 2012

Raspberry Tarts with Almond Crust and Creme Patissiere

Oh my gosh. Raspberry tarts are so cute. and so French. I am preparing for a trip this summer. Paris, Prague, Budapest, Istanbul. It will be a whirlwind of sorts. I plan to eat as many pastries as possible and stuff as many copper pots into my suitcase as it can hold. I want to see the sites, drink German beer, eat a pretzel, meet some people, and become deeply inspired. Today I am feeling extremely excited by fresh raspberries, marble pastry boards, and tiny little pastry pans. I drove all over Seattle this morning looking for these cute little pans. First I started in Ballard, a neighborhood close too mine. It saddened me to see that one of my favorite kitchen stores had closed down. In a panic, I drove to the other end of the city to Williams-Sonoma - no luck. Crate and Barrel, also no luck. Finally, my last stop was Mrs. Cooks, and luckily they were well stocked. I was  extremely thrilled.

I've been meaning to make raspberry tarts for quite some time. My only limiting factor, a lack of tiny tart pans. I now have so many ideas. So many recipes flowing thought my head, all the amazing things that I can put in tarts! For this recipe, I choose to experiment with almond flour, because it's delicious and also I have a bag in my fridge that needs to be used. I adapted a recipe from Nourished Kitchen, an extremely delicious blog. The crust turned out soft and buttery. Slight sweet. The creme patisserie was rich and creamy. The vanilla beans added a beautiful aromatic taste. I love how the vanilla left tiny black flecks in the creme. The combination of buttery crust, thick cream, and fresh raspberries was delicious, and oh so extremely French.

makes 4 small tarts
recipe adapted from Nourished Kitchen
notes: pastry cream should be served immediately out of the fridge, or can be stored in the fridge for up to  3 days. 

2 cups almond flour
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg white

1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup milk, 2% or whole
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream

- small pint of raspberries, washed and dried
- icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Align four 5-inch tart pans on the counter.

In a food processor, add the almond flour, sugar, salt, butter, and egg white. Pulse until all ingredients are combined and start to stick together, resembling coarse meal.

Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Scoop the mixture into the tart shells, pressing down with your hands, and forming up the sides of the shell. You want to create an even layer around the sides, and then press flat on the bottom of the shell. Place the shells into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Place the tart shell directly onto the middle oven rack and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the crust has turned light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the shells.

Split the vanilla bean in half and remove the seeds. Add the seeds, along with the vanilla pod to the milk in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a simmer on low to medium heat stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. This will allow the vanilla to infuse the milk.

In a medium bowl add the egg yolks, flour, and sugar. Vigorously stir with a wire whisk until ingredients have become combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, and whisk until combined.

Add the mixture to a saucepan on medium heat. With a wire whisk, stir constantly until the mixture has thickened and started to boil. Remove from heat and strain with a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap by placing it directly on top of the creme's surface. This will prevent a skin from forming on the tops. Refrigerate immediately.

Chill in the refrigerator until cool, one hour or more. Once chilled, remove and whisk in the heavy cream just before serving.

Remove the almond crust from their shells. Fill each tart 3/4 full with the creme. Gently place the raspberries on top with the stem side facing down. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


  1. They look both beautiful and delicious! I had some wonderful raspberries for breakfast this week. They are such a delightful treat.

    1. Why thank you. Looking forward to seeing your posts at the Lovely Cupboard.

  2. Beautiful pictures and delicious treats - nice blog! :)

  3. Yum, yum. This looks absolutely delicious. Love the almond crust.

  4. Anonymous06 May, 2012

    Hate to mention this, but by whisking in the fresh cream after the cooking process is finished, you introduce a food-safety risk. (I'm an experienced pâtissier in the French style, and currently studying in Europe - so the HACCP and other food-safety regulations are quite fresh in my head.) Putting the cream at the bottom of the pot with the milk (pre infusion) will reduce the risk from the pastry cream, minimize the possibility of scalding the milk while heating it, and not affect texture or flavour of the end product at all. The tartelettes look great though, and the almond pastry looks absolutely scrumptious :). Happy Baking!

    1. Thanks for you comment. I am not sure how adding the cream once the creme patissiere has been properly cooked and immediately chilled, should pose a food safety risk? Also, many recipes state that you can add whipped cream at the end to make a lighter pastry cream (I choose heavy cream). I don't think you would get the same affect (a lighter cream) if added while the milk was being infused with vanilla? I would love to discuss.

  5. Anonymous06 May, 2012

    If you are using the pastry cream straight away (like, how a dessert is tabled in a restaurant,) then adding in fresh cream just before serving poses next to no risk, and in fact for an even lighter pastry cream you can beat the whipping cream to soft peaks and fold it into the whisked pastry cream just prior to putting it in the tart shell. However, if you are keeping the cream in a tart shell a bit longer (ie: pastry case or advance prep for a dinner party the next day,) then you want to make sure the pastry cream cooks up to at least 185 degrees F, and then you want to cool it very rapidly (the less time any product spends between 150F and 50F, the better.

    Here they do this by "tabling" the cream in a clean (sterilized) hotel pan or oven-sheet, as this drops the temp much faster than putting it in a bowl in the fridge directly. Because your quantity isn't much though, the bowl in the fridge (at around 35F) should be fine. If your fridge temp is normally hotter than that (many fridges are 42ish to avoid harming the veggies with too much cold,) then just stick the one bowl holding the pastry cream into a larger one filled with ice and the temp of your cream will drop much faster.

    Sadly it's not just the eggs that pose a problem in food, as opportunistic bacteria are in the air, on surfaces (even the clean bowl you put the cream into after cooking it, on your clean spoon or whisk, on your clean hands, and even on the lip of the package for the whipping cream.) The trick is to reduce the risk of multiplication time post-cooking and eliminate any risk that fresh base ingredients *could* pose with the assurance of cooking them whenever that's an option. The addition of a fresh ingredient to a cooked product always introduces a higher risk of bacterial problems, so should be avoided if the product is to be stocked more than a few hours. You'd probably want to barf if I told you all the case studies we had to hear about where ice cream or pastry cream made someone sick... and even more so if I told you about the kinds of accidental introductions of bacteria to the cooked product that had caused the illnesses. The ideal is just to keep "cooked, then quickly cooled" as the last step.

    In a "pastry case" situation, for even better lightness, a bit of italian meringue could be folded in (seriously soft, cloud like fluffiness, and the advantage is that it's also a fully cooked "sterilized" product,) to the pastry cream (though here you'd want to reduce the sugar quantity in the pastry cream recipe a little, as the meringue brings a little bit of sugar along with it. Same lightness, less risk. Also in a pastry case or "prepared in advance" situation you'd want a moisture barrier between the tart shell and the cream - a bit of fruit glaze or chocolate brushed into the interior of the pastry are the standard tricks here for avoiding a soggy pastry from the moisture transfer.

  6. Anonymous06 May, 2012

    Pastry cream and Creme Anglaise are the two base pastry products that pose the greatest risk for food illness in the pastry world (especially when fresh fruits accompany them in a dish, and certainly more so in summer.) They're a perfect breeding base for just about any bacteria - which ones are a risk to your pastry cream (or anyones) will depend on where one lives and how one deals with cleaning their dishes, house, etc, as well as how and where one prepares their cream, and how and where they cool it and store it.

    Though occasionally it's salmonella from improper cooking of the cream, more often than not it's actually another bacteria that found it's way in at some step in the process post-cooking and found an ideal breeding ground in the prepared cream. Staphylococcus aureus is a frequent one, since 20% of the population are "healthy carriers" of it and most don't know they are.

    In some cases coliform (fecal) bacteria get in there from an unwisely used or improperly washed "household cleaning cloth" - being used in the bathroom one week, and after not being washed in a hot enough wash... the kitchen counter or dishes the next *shudders*. Even washing your hands in the bathroom and drying them on a bathroom towel before touching kitchen tools poses a higher risk than washing them in the kitchen and drying them with paper towel. Some people just don't realize where they introduce bacteria, and I'm not saying that's the case with you... just that it happens way more than it should particularly in home kitchen situations which is why it's extra important to ensure a fragile product like pastry cream is given every chance to remain healthy post-cooking.

    All this said, I hope it's a clear enough explanation (We are instructed in French at school so sometimes when I try to explain it in English - even though English is my first language - I sometimes forget to include something important in the translation!) Anyhow, I feel like it's a really long explanation so I'll stop now and just say that I only commented about the safety issue with the cream *because* the majority of food illnesses are caused by something done in the process of preparing a dish in the home kitchen (as opposed to unsafe ingredients,) and with summer weather showing up I just want to make sure everyone enjoys the tarts safely!

    I can't wait to make my next raspberry tarts with your almond crust - I loooove the pairing of almonds and raspberries, and I'm quite bored of the more "shortbread" style crust that's to be found everywhere here. Thanks for the awesome idea!

    1. Thanks for your discussion, and I hope you enjoy the almond crust! The main points that I have gathered from our discussion are:

      1 - Always properly wash your hands, pots, surface, etc. when preparing foods, preventing the cross contamination of staphylococcus aureus, a common bacteria that lives on skin and other bacteria that can live on surfaces.
      2 - Refrigerate the pastry cream right away at º40F to prevent the growth of bacteria, as the pastry cream can be a breading ground.
      3 - Always wash your produce, as it can be contaminated with salmonella.

      I agree on these food safety principles. Thanks for taking the time to discuss.


  7. I had the same problem with finding these tart pans as you did when I decided on a whim to try a raspberry lemon tart last summer. We have no Williams Sonoma or any other stores in our area that cater to bakers, so I tried every department store around, all to no avail. Oddly enough I found them at a Hardware store in the country!! I was determined and left no stone unturned!

    I am glad I have them now as I will definitely be trying this recipe, althoug feeling a bit intimitated given all the food safety precautions discussed. Kitchen and food safety is high priority for sure, but it just reminds us not to let our guard down.

    Looking forward to your posts at The Lovely Cupboard!

    1. Wow, I never would have thought to try the hardware store.

  8. What stunning photos! And what beautiful looking tarts! I would love to try this recipe.

  9. These are gorgeous! I want to make tartlets the same size with this almond flour crust recipe but am considering just making one tartlet at a time but making the whole dough recipe Any idea about this dough's sustainability stored raw in the fridge or freezer? Lovely recipe and blog : )