There are a few simple pleasures in life, for mine in particular, would be eating desserts. I would love to have a picnic every so often with a basket full of roasted tomato sandwich, sausage rolls, berry tarts, cheese and crackers, and a bottle or two of wine (sweet or bubbly). However, the weather (and security) here doesn’t permit so I shall enjoy such luxury at the vicinity of my house. That’s not going to stop me from enjoying the little things in life 😉
Ok I’m gonna be honest, I don’t have a basket or mat, neither do I have a roasted tomato sandwich but I have these gorgeous strawberry tartlets and wine for this scorching hot weather.
These tartlets are made with a easy pâte sucrée; a sweet shortcrust pastry, filled with a smooth vanilla crème pâtissière (pastry cream) and fresh strawberries with a dust of icing sugar. If you don’t like strawberries, it can go with other berries or even poached pear if you prefer. And so flexible it is, you it can be made into a bigger tart, a medium sized tart, or mini bite size tartlets. It’s one of the basic recipes that one should have in their recipe ‘cabinet’.
The recipe consist of 2 parts, if you must, you can prepare the dough and pastry cream a day before. That will give the cream ample of time to set.
To go with these strawberry tarts, I have a Chateau Les Arroucats, St Croix Du Mont to pair with it from Wine Talk. Come’on, if you’ve gotta pretend you’re in a picnic, you have to have a wine to seal the deal. No? French wine and french pastry cream; hehe Chateau Les Arroucats, a sweet wine from St Croix Du Mont, France and has a composition of grapes: 85% Semillon, 12% Sauvignon, 3% Muscadelle. Offering a superb, golden colour and a subtle bouquet with lovely intensity and elegant hints of apricot and pear, it shows plenty of roundness on the palate, well-balanced tannins, with fruity, honey flavours. Perfect as an aperitif, with foie gras, melon, blue cheese or fruits based desserts. With its fruity, honey flavours, this sweet wine makes a great pair with these strawberry tartlets.
- 220g all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 150g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons ice water
- 3 egg yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 250ml milk
- 10g butter
- 1 punnet strawberries
- icing sugar
- Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and 50ml milk till thick. Add in corn starch and whisk the slurry.
- In a pot, add in the remaining milk and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and pour the milk in a slow stream on to the egg slurry, whisking all the time.
- Return the mixture to the pot and continue to whisk over a low-medium heat. The cream will start to thicken. Once it releases a bubble or two, take it off the heat. Add in butter and stir till it has melted.
- Pour onto a tray lined with cling film. Cover with cling film (pat the cling film so it sticks directly on to the cream and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse few times to combine. Add the butter pieces. Blend the fat and flour until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Or, instead of the food processor, rub cold butter and flour with your fingers till it resembles the texture of course breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process continuously until the dough begins to clump together. Do not over-process; the dough should not form a ball. If using hand to mix, add in 2 tbsp of water then fold the dough. It may or may not need the 3rd tbsp.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick wide disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about 30 minutes.
- Place unwrapped dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 3mm thickness.
- Cut out and gently press the dough into the tart shells. Roll the pin over the top of the 3½" tart shells to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough in each pan with a fork. Refrigerate the dough in the pans for 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 175°C. Bake for 20-25 minutes or till it is golden brown. Transfer the tartlet shells to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Pour creme patisserie out into a bowl, use a whisk and loosen the mixture by whisking it. Scoop it out into a piping bag. Fill the tart shells with creme patisserie. Arrange with freshly cut strawberries and a spinkle of icing sugar.
These tarts are perfect for a afternoon tea, a school party or even for weddings’ dessert table, or you don’t actually need a reason to eat strawberry tart, do you? With dessert tables all in trend now for weddings and birthday parties, it may seem a little overwhelming if you are planning for your own (or making the products yourself! that’s cray cray) The thing with parties and such is that, there’s A LOT of planning and things CAN go wrong. I mean, what if the cream starts to melt, or your balloons aren’t exactly the colour you want, or that there aren’t enough food or drinks for your guests (horror!).
If you have a party and you are looking to serve wines but have no idea where to start from or how many bottles should you order, you should check out Wine Talk where it’s sommelier team, headed by French sommelier, David Stephan, will provide you the best recommendations based on your tastes, preferences and price range.
Wine Talk is an online wine delivery service where you can easily order wines via http://www.winetalk.com.my or via call to 1300 88 9788. Choose from over 400 labels of red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, champagne, rosé wine, even non-alcoholic wine, and have them delivered to you home, office, wedding venue or any location within Peninsular Malaysia.
If you are a fan of wine, they also have a subscription service called Wine Club where members will receive wine cases on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, delivered straight to your home. But not just any wines, they are great value wines and handpicked by David based on your preference; popular labels and also fun discoveries. It comes with a personalized booklet that details the history of the winery, grape varietals, tasting notes, food pairing and more; only for RM 454 for 6 bottles and RM835 for 12 bottles with FREE delivery included.
There’s a quote that says “Wine makes every meal an occassion, every table more elegant and every day more civilized” 😉
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Tell me you don’t have this obsession of wanting to buy every pretty book or magazine you see in the bookstore. Every time I step into one, I’m bound to buy a magazine or a book, except for if I forget to bring any money and when I’m in a hurry. Lol. My shelves are crying out loud for lack of space, the books are now all stacked under my working table. But on the bright side, yes we’re moving and there’ll be MORE shelve space ><
Ok so the other day I was in a grocer, I saw some nice rhubarb. The first (and only) time I ate rhubarb was in Bill’s in Sydney 4-5 years ago. It was a crumble; sweet, tangy and sends chills to your spine. Haha!! I’m just kidding about the last part.
And the moment I saw the rhubarb, I knew I wanted to make a crumble cause I haven’t ate a crumble for so so so long! It’s just one of those comfort food with sweet and tart warm berries or other fruit to perk you up, and a buttery and crunchy crumb to balance the texture and your palate. Amazing.My brother and I loved it. We couldn’t help but ate one bowl each. Haha.It’s always nice to have ice cream to go along with crumbles, but this time around no ice cream and it was just as good! But don’t take my words for it, make it yourself and you’ll get wht I meant.
Rhubarb & Berries Crumble
150-200g rhubarb; stalks trimmed, cut into small 2-3cm chunks
200g strawberries & raspberries (you can use either or both)
60g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split seeds scraped
120g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 orange zest
50g rolled oats
120g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
pinch of salt
1. Chop chop rhubarb to 2cm pieces. If you have a big baking dish, make them 3cm.
2. Hull, half or quarter strawberries. Scrap seeds of vanilla pod, add into bowl. Add in rhubarb, strawberry and raspberry and caster sugar. Gently toss or mix so the berries are coated with sugar. Let it macerate for 30 minutes.
3. Spread them into your baking dish. Make sure you have enough of fruits in each of the dish.
4. Make crumble. As the name suggest, just crumble everything together. Or use a food processor to whiz everything till it resembles chunky bits or breadcrumbs. If it’s a little dry, add in 1 -2 tsp of water to bind them together so you have some larger crumbles and some loose ones. Scatter crumble evenly on top of the rhubarb mixture.
5. Bake in a preheated oven of 200C for 30 minutes (or more for a bigger sized dish) until crisp and golden and the juices from the fruit bubble up through.
6. Cool but serve warm, with a dollop of ice cream.
Oh my, doesn’t it matches the new layout ? heheh
It was one of the first things that caught my eye when I bought Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking. It’s at 40% off ($24 only, maybe abt $30 after shipping depending on where u’re at) now at amazon and I bought the book many years ago (about 3) at RM154.12 in one of the book stores here. Is that why Malaysians don’t read / buy books much? It’s just ridiculously priced. Anyway..pardon the Monday talk.
I scaled the recipe down and made only 3 pavlovas. I hand whisked (don’t bother hand whisking if u’re making the full recipe unless u desperately need some hand workout) the meringue and added brown sugar instead, I don’t know what was I thinking then, but here it is. My pavs looked a bit brown cause my temperature was slightly higher than normal pavlova temperature. But still crunchy outside and fluffy inside.
The main reasons of making this was, again, I bought some ingredients and tried to make ‘something’ to use the ingredient. Not oh-I-want-to-make-this-so-i-buy-the-ingredients. Totally opposite. Lol. I am the type that goes and buy random stuffs and figure, oh ok now what am I going to do with this. I find it a little more fun this way. Anyways we’re not talking about that either. The main idea of this pavlova was to use up some of the Korean Strawberries my mum bought from the market. She bought them cause I was sick haha.
That ray of light was totally unintentional. I had not realized it until I’ve uploaded the photos to my mac.
They were small but perfect looking strawberries. Very red, extremely fragrant and sweet! Make some striking red strawberry sorbet; perfect for such hot weathers. I just bought another 2 boxes, I’m hopefully going to make ichigo daifuku with this batch. The last time I made, it was very ugly cause the strawberries were ….. huge and whitish. So… yup, just watch this space for a little longer.
(But then again I’m just saying, I may make something else then lol)
Pavlova with Honey-Lavender cream and Poached Strawberries
(adapted from Sur La Table’s The Art and Soul of Baking)
(makes 8 mini pavlova)
130g caster sugar (2/3 cup)
1 tbsp corn starch
3 large egg whites (abt 80-90g
1/4 tsp cream of tartar / white vinegar / lemon juice
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 box of strawberries (abt 250g); or estimate 3-4 per serving
500ml water / 2 cups
200g sugar / 1 cup
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scraped.(optional)
2 tbsp caster sugar
t tbsp dried lavender blossoms
250ml whipping cream / 1 cup
1 tbsp mild-flavoured honey
1. Make pavlova. Preheat oven to 120C. In a clean mixing bowl, place egg whites and cream of tartar in and whip on medium high speed until foamy. Gradually add caster sugar and salt. Continue to whisk at high speed till almost stiff peaks, add in vanilla and whisk for a little longer till its very stiff peak. Sift corn starch over meringue and lightly fold it with a spatula.
2. Baking pavlova. Use a 1/3 measuring cup and spoon the meringue out onto a lined tray (with parchment or silpat, up to you). Make a well in the center (so you have more cream later). Bake for 40-50 minutes until faintly golden and crispy on the outside. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
3. Poach the strawberries. Wash berries and pat dry. Hull each berry and cut them into half; cut 1/4 if they are huge. Place water, sugar and vanilla seeds and pod (optional but adds extra yumminess) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, until sugar is completely dissolved. Carefully transfer berries into the pot and bring to boil again. (may just take abt 1-2 minutes only) Turn off heat and cover the pot. Let berries sit in the syrup until mixture is at room temperature – about 30 minutes.
4. Make honey-lavender cream. Place sugar and lavender in a spice grinder and blend till fine. Place cream, honey and 1 1/2 tbsp lavender sugar in a clean bowl. Whisk till soft peak forms. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until ready to assemble.
5. Assemble. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the strawberries from the poaching liquid and drain slightly. (Save the poaching liquid for cocktails / smoothie / juice) Place a meringue on each serving plate. Fill the centre of each meringue with honey lavender cream and top with strawberries. Serve immediately.
The lavender cream went really well with a what-may-be-tasteless-pavlova. Nothing much to comment about the poached strawberries, they were absolutely perfect. Poaching them introduces a mild vanilla flavour (if u’re feeling lavish and adds a vanilla pod) and reduces tartness (if the fruits aren’t very ripe). If the strawberries are small, don’t poach them for too long as it may turn all mushy looses out its texture.
*Since I’m still in the theme, I’d support the Aspiring Bakers #5 Fruity March with this entry.