sweet, soft, saucy

pie is a great remedy for that ho-hum feeling you get in the middle of the work week. i took some time the other day to make a couple, then called over every good friend i knew to come and help eat them.

today: a portrait of the fresh strawberry tart.

i’m not a big fan of using the usual flaky pie pastry as a base for a fresh fruit filling, and i didn’t think a graham cracker crust would hold up too well either (though in any other pie situation, my heart belongs to crusts of the crushed-cookie-plus-melted-butter variety). so i went back in my files to retrieve a tart shell recipe i used last year. it comes from maury rubin, chef-owner of city bakery in new york, via this la times article. the tart dough bakes up to be rather firm and almost cookie-like, with a texture that crumbles finely in your mouth. i found it to be a lovely complement to the mound of sweet, soft, saucy berries.

to keep the strawberries from sharing too much of that sauciness with the delicately textured crust, i used a handy trick i picked up from my many years of eating store-bought tarts. i stuck a smattering of white chocolate chips in a bowl and melted them down, then used a pastry brush to apply a thin, sauce-proof layer of chocolate along the bottom of the tart shell after baking it. and that, my friends, put an end to my mushy-crust anxieties.

for the filling itself i turned to my dog-eared, thumbed-through betty crocker cookbook. to make the (luscious, glistening) sauce, a handful of strawberries were mashed down to a cup’s worth and thickened over the stove with some sugar, water, and cornstarch, into which i splashed about a tablespoon of lemon juice. i pushed it all through a sieve, then gave the strawberries a good tumble in the warm sauce. and then we had this:

and all of a sudden, wednesday night got interesting.

Fresh Strawberry Tart
adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook

Baked tart shell (recipe here)
about ¼ cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 ½ quarts strawberries (about 3 1-lb. containers)
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. corn starch
½ cup water
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

  1. Prepare baked tart shell.
  2. Use a pastry brush to brush bottom of tart shell with melted white chocolate.
  3. Mash enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. Mix sugar and cornstarch in 2-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in water and mashed strawberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; cool. Stir in lemon juice. Pour mixture through sieve, pressing with a spoon to squeeze out all the liquid; discard solids.
  4. Put remaining strawberries (washed and dried very well) in a large bowl. Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top and turn gently until all strawberries are coated. Fill tart shell with strawberries. Refrigerate about 3 hours until set. Refrigerate any remaining pie.
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One response to “sweet, soft, saucy

  1. joe

    this pie tastes better when you don’t have to make it for yourself.

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