Strawberry and Pepper Tart

For the pâte sucrée:

1-3/4 cups (230g) all-purpose flour

½ teaspoons fine sea salt

½ cup vanilla sugar

4 large egg yolks

8 tablespoons (125g) unsalted butter


For the pastry cream :

1-1/2 cups (375ml) milk

1 vanilla bean, cut in half

5 large egg yolks

6 tablespoons (80ml) vanilla sugar

¼ cup (35g) unbleached, all-purpose flour

Pinch sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon unsalted butter



For the strawberries:

1-1/2 pounds (750g) ripe strawberries, stems removed

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar


To present the tart:

Freshly ground black pepper


1.  Make the pastry: preheat the oven to 375F (190C).


2.  Sift the flour onto a work surface and make a large well in the center. Place the salt, the sugar, and the egg yolks in the well and mix them with your fingers until the sugar dissolves.  Pound on the butter to soften it slightly, add it to the well and quickly combine it with the other ingredients, using the fingertips on one hand, until partly blended.  Gradually work in the flour with the fingertips of your hands, pulling flour from the side towards the butter mixture, until large crumbs form. Continue blending the pastry by cutting it into pieces with a dough scraper. When the dough is smooth, gather it into a ball then continue to work it by pushing it away from you and against the work surface with the heel of your hand and gathering it up with the dough scraper until it is pliable and thoroughly combined. Press the dough into a flat round and roll it out and line a 10-1/2 inch (23cm) removable bottom tart tin.  Prick the pastry with a fork, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it with pastry weights. Bake in the center of the oven until the pastry begins to turn golden on the edges, about 12 minutes.  Remove from the oven, remove the aluminum foil and the weights, and continue baking until the pastry is pale golden, about 7 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.


3. Make the pastry cream: scald the milk with the vanilla bean in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and reserve until it cools to lukewarm.


4.  When the milk is lukewarm, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl until they are pale yellow and fluffy. Whisk in the flour and ¼ cup of the warm milk to make a smooth mixture. Whisk in the remaining milk the return the mixture to the heat and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Whisk in the salt and the vanilla extract, and cook until the sauce thickens.  Continue cooking until the sauce thins just slightly and becomes glossy, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Rub the teaspoon of butter over the top so a skin doesn’t from, and let the pastry cream cool to room temperature.


5.   For the strawberries: 15 minutes before assembling the tart, place the strawberries, the vinegar, and the sugar in a large bowl and mix together gently.


6.  To assemble the tart, spread the pastry cream evenly on the pastry.  Drain the berries and place them, one by one, the pointed tip up, atop the pastry cream.  Season with several grinds of pepper, and garnish with mint leaves.  Serve immediately.


8 servings

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