Strawberry Tartlets: Homemade Pâte Sucrée and Chantilly Crème
This recipe comes from Michel Roux’s Pastry Savoury and Sweet – the book to quell your fears if you are daunted by making your own pastry. I have had this book for over a year now and it makes making pastry a breeze, first time, every time, with the helpful step by step diagrams.
Pâte sucrée is a sweet pastry most often used for fruit tarts and once cooked is less fragile than other sweet pastries like pâte sablée.
I first made this dish for Christmas Day dessert. I made a trio of fruits including cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Strawberries are more readily available when not in season, so I tend to favour this fruit when filling my pâte sucrée tartlets.
The pastry is so delicate and delightful. It forms so easily and simply melts in your mouth with each bite. The pastry can be kept in the fridge for up to several days if wrapped well or up to three weeks in the freezer – allowing you to have it for dessert a few times a month and with a quarter of the preparation and cooking time!
These delightful little morsels are filled with chantilly crème. A recipe also taken from Michel Roux’s Pastry Savoury and Sweet, the aromatic flavour of vanilla from a fresh vanilla pod compliments the sweet pastry and strawberries perfectly.
This dish is best served straight after it is assembled. You can serve it to your guests already assembled, or for a more relaxed afternoon delight, serve it up on a tray for your guests to assemble to their own taste!
To make the Pâte Sucrée
Makes approximately 520g (1lb) – 8 (10cm / 4 inch) tartlet cases
250g (8oz) plain flour
100g (3.5oz) butter, cubed and slightly softened
100g (3.5oz) icing sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs at room temperature
Place the flour in a small heap and make a well. Place the butter, icing sugar and salt into the well. Mix together these three ingredients, (butter, icing sugar and salt), with your finger tips.
Gradually draw the flour into the centre and mix with your fingertips until the dough becomes slightly grainy.
Make another well and add the eggs. Work the eggs into the flour mixture until the dough begins to hold together.
Knead the dough a few times with the palm of your hand until the dough is smooth.
Roll the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 2 hours before using.
Once the dough is rested and you are ready to use it, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 2-3mm (1/8 inch) thickness.
Cut out 8 rounds using a 14cm (5.5 inch) plate as a guide. Place the pastry rounds in the tartlet tins and use your fingers to press the pastry against the edges. Cut off the excess around the rim and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. (This will reduce shrinkage during cooking).
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F). Prick the bottom of the pastry cases with a fork to allow trapped air to escape. Bake blind for 10 minutes, then remove the beans or ceramic weights used in the blind bake process and bake for another 5 minutes or until slightly golden.
Leave to cool on a wire rack until completely cooled.
Place the chilled cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a bowl and beat with electric mixers on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Increase the speed and beat for 3-4 minutes until the cream starts to thicken. Be careful not to over beat the cream – it should be of a light ribbon like consistency.
Chantilly cream is best served as soon as it is made, but can be kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
All Together Now – Strawberry Tartlets with Chantilly Crème
Makes 8 – 10cm (4 inches)tartlets
600ml (20oz) chantilly crème
8 pâte sucrée tartlet cases, cooled
3 punnets of small strawberries, whole with tops cut off
Split the chantilly crème evenly between the tartlet cases.
Pile the strawberries on top, but don’t pack too tightly. Lightly dust with icing sugar if desired and serve immediately.
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