Week 119: Pistachio and strawberry tartlets

It has been ages since I last met friends I got to know through social. Over the weekend, I got together with a few of them and we visited a new éclair café in town. And while I consider my taste buds significantly spoiled after tasting Christophe Adam’s salted caramel e’clair, I have to say, the éclairs at this café is top notch.

The best thing about hanging out with fellow bakers is that we really appreciate the dessert in front of us. The flavours, the aesthetic, even the nice tableware! And the éclairs flavour selection was superb. After starring at the éclair counter for what seemed like eternity, we finally made our selection – ispahan, black sesame, Earl Grey and pistachio strawberry. Although my personal favourite remains the Earl Grey, the “punch” from the pistachios and the slight tartness of the strawberries really made a mark.

So with the idea in my head, I started to work on my new tart flavour – pistachio and strawberry! I revert to my trusted pâté sucrée recipe for the tart base.

For the strawberry gelée

170g strawberry purée

2g agar-agar powder

15g granulated sugar

1 gelatine sheet

1) Bloom gelatine sheet in cold water.

2) Heat the purée, agar-agar and sugar until boiling. Allow to boil for about a minute.

3) Remove purée mixture from heat, squeeze water from gelatine sheet and stir gelatine sheet into purée until melted.

4) Pour into a flat tin and allow to set in the freezer until required.

For the pistachio crème pâtissière

125g whole milk

1 large egg yolk

20g granulated sugar

6g cornstarch

40g pistachio paste

10g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.

2) In a bowl, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk until well-mixed.

3) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

4) Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil.

5) Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat). The mixture should have thicken, Do not overcook.

6) Remove cream mixture from heat and pour it onto pistachio paste in a large bowl. Allow it to sit for a minute, then, slowly fold the mixture and ensure pistachio paste is mixed thoroughly.

7) Add butter to the cream and stir to melt.

8) Split cream into 2 portions and leave one portion to chill in the refrigerator.

For the pistachio crème légère

Half portion of the pistachio créme pâtissière above

1 gelatine sheet

200ml heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1) Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water, then, squeeze the water from the sheets before adding to the pastry cream. It should melt easily into the warm cream.

2) Allow the cream to cool to room temperature, then, carefully fold in the whipped cream, try not to deflate the air in the cream.

To assembly

30g white chocolate couverture

20g ground, toasted pistachios

20g pâté feuilletine

Chopped pistachio (optional)

Whole strawberries (optional)

1) Melt the white chocolate in a Bain-Marie then stir in the ground pistachio and feuilletine.

2) Fill about 15g of feuilletine mixture into each tart shell and gently flatten to level it.

3) Cut out rounds of strawberry gelée to fit the tart shells and place the gelée over the feuilletine layer.

4) Fill the rest of the tart shells with the pistachio crème pâtissière.

5) Pipe blobs of pistachio crème légère over the crème pâtissière layer, covering it entirely.

6) If using, sprinkle the chopped pistachios on the crème légère. Slice the strawberries and fan it out. Place one on each tart.

I read somewhere that the ratio of crème pâtissière to whipped cream is somewhere between 1 : 4 by weight. But even the 1 : 2 ratio I used here resulted in a very light and bland crème légère. I would probably try the 1 : 1 or even 2 : 1 ratio next time.

The flavour for this batch of tarts is a little bland in general and I could really get the distinct flavour of pistachio. Looks like more tweaks are in the pipeline.

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