Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vanilla Custard Tarts

Stop the world, I want to get off. Life is rocketing along at a million miles an hour right now and I have had enough. ENOUGH. I do not like being busy and rushing around. I like dawdling about and pondering things. I am big on pondering.

As if the squillion things going on weren't enough, I rashly promised to bring a dessert to a lunch last weekend. I searched desparately for an easy option. I could have just bought a cake from a bakery or something, but home baking is just so much nicer. And I knew just how much it would be appreciated. And you know, I am so glad that I made the effort because otherwise I would never have discovered these - vanilla custard tarts.

Basically, they are little filo pastry cases filled with deliciously silky vanilla bean custard. My big idea was to serve them with some sliced tinned pears. Easy is as easy does. I was sure I had a tin of pears skulking about at the back of the pantry. But dragged into the daylight it turned out to be a tin of fruit cocktail. What the??? I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying fruit cocktail. I doubt I've eaten it since my last school camp. But good thing I did buy it for some reason at some point, because it went beautifully with the tarts. It was perfect.

I think these tarts are THE perfect lunch time dessert. They are lovely and light, just adding a delicious note of sweetness at the end of the meal. And oh so refined and elegant. I also think they would be absolutely perfect to serve alongside rose scented poached pears as a dinner dessert.

Admittedly, the tarts were not quite so quick and simple to make as I envisaged. The custard is straight forward enough. But forming the pastry cases in the muffin tins takes a bit of time and patience. I swear if filo pastry wasn't sooo temptingly delicious, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a bargepole. It breaks and tears and is generally a pain in the proverbial. But in this case, it redeemed itself. Totally worth it.

Vanilla Custard Tarts
(adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Sept/Oct 2006)

pastry cases

sheets of filo pastry
unsalted butter, melted
caster sugar


1 1/2 cups single cream
1 vanilla bean, split
3 egg yolks
2 tbspn (8 tspn) caster sugar*
1 tbspn cornflour
2 tbspn water

For the custard, heat the cream and vanilla bean. Do not allow to boil. Cover and leave to steep for 20 minutes. Reheat to just below boiling point and remove the vanilla bean.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the cornflour and water together.

Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg mixture. Add the cornflour mix and return to the saucepan. Return to a low heat and stir until the mix thickens sufficiently to coat the back of a spoon. Cover and refrigerate.

Brush the a sheet of the pastry with the melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar. Top with another layer of pastry. Brush with the butter and sprinkle with sugar. Add a final layer of pastry.

Cut the pastry into squares or circles and press into the lightly greased cups of a muffin tin. Trim the edges of the pastry.

Bake for 4-6 minutes or until lightly golden in a 180C oven. Allow to cool. To serve, spoon the custard into the pastry cases.

* This is an Australian recipe so 1 tbspn = 4 tspn. In the US 1 tbspn = 3 tspn.


At 11:15 am, Blogger Cindy said...

So pretty! I love the flecks of the vanilla seeds.

If you want to just fling filo pastry around instead of fussing, this is a lovely dessert.

At 7:13 pm, Blogger Big Boys Oven said...

This custard tarts with fillo pastry look so stylist and yet so innocent! I admire this well accomplished dessert of yours! can wait for the next creation.

At 10:14 pm, Blogger grace said...

you're right, it doesn't sound as quick and simple as one might hope, but i believe you 100% when you say it's worth it. they seem decadent and delicious, as is pretty much anything made with filo!

At 4:34 pm, Blogger My Sweet & Saucy said...

That vanilla custard looks so heavenly!

At 5:56 am, Blogger Elle said...

Fruit cocktail is an unusual thing to add to these lovely tart, but I can see it working. Those filo cases are so elegant and thin...just like models :)

At 9:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the idea, and I want to try it! I know I could use another custard recipe, but I'd like to try yours. What is castor sugar? And is cornflour the same as cornmeal?

These would be beautiful with a little edible flower on top!!


At 4:01 pm, Blogger KJ said...

Hi Cindy, thanks for the link. It looks great.

Hi BBO, thank you.

Hi Grace, I agree filo can made any meal attractive.

Hi S&S, thank you.

Hi Elle, that's a great description. I was surprised by how well the fruit cocktail worked.

Hi Marsha, I'm not sure where you are located. If it's the States, then castor sugar is the same as superfine sugar. I think cornflour is different from cornmeal. Here is Australia, cornflour is chalky powder usually made from maize or wheat. It's used as a thickening agent in sauces, gravies, custards etc. this is the one I use

At 8:02 pm, Blogger Amanda at Little Foodies said...

They look beautiful and I love the sound of rose scented pears to be served alongside them, though I believe you when you say the fruit cocktail was good.
I'm a big ponderer too and don't like too much going on. Pretty sure some of those custard tarts would ease the pressure though.

At 3:41 am, Blogger pRiyA said...

oh damn! just when i decided that i was never going to look at another food blog again, i had to came across this one.

At 11:21 pm, Blogger Liza | @aMusingFoodie said...

I realize this post is really old, but I discovered your blog while searching for "vanilla custard tart." Fabulous! Looks delicious!



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