Monday, June 8, 2015

Strawberry tartlets (with strawberry crème légère and fresh strawberries)

Did you really think I would only make one dessert with strawberries this summer? Of course not. My appetite for them is insatiable.

Apart from the lovely and delicious fudgy cocoa brownies that I shared with you some days ago, I made these beauties too. I actually made these small tarts for a very special birthday in lieu of cake and they were a huge hit. How could they not be? I mean, look at them. They are so cute. And, let me assure you, they’re not just looks, their flavor is superb too.

The pastry for these strawberry tartlets is a pâte sucrée (sweet short crust pastry) with the addition of ground almonds that make it more interesting both in flavor and texture. It is crumbly, buttery and it melts in your mouth whereas the vanilla seeds in the pastry give their incomparable aroma and flavor that you can taste with every bite.

The filling is a crème légère which is a lightened crème pâtissière (pastry cream) that is made with strawberry purée, orange and lemon juice, which makes it slightly tart and a great complement to the sweet pastry base. Indeed it is the pâte sucrée that provides most of the sweetness in these tartlets given that the filling is not too sweet.

The crème légère is smooth, light and airy, and the flavor of the strawberry comes through loud and clear, making this a refreshing, tangy and mildly sweet dessert, with an incredibly delicate flavor that is understated yet powerful.

On top, the glorious fresh strawberries, like the jewels on the crown, decorate and complete the individual tartlets, as do the generous dusting of icing sugar and the sprinkling of chopped fresh mint that adds color and freshness.

These tartlets are summery, light and fresh, and have the authentic, unadulterated flavor of the strawberry which is all you want when you are promised a tart like this.

P.S. I have one last strawberry sweet treat planned to share with you, so, strawberry lovers, stay tuned!

Strawberry tartlets (with strawberry crème légère and fresh strawberries)
Adapted from Edd Kimber

This recipe yields more crème légère than you will need to fill the tarts; not very much, but enough to turn the leftover cream into the best strawberry popsicle ever. That’s what I usually do. Just pour the leftover cream into ice pop molds or small glasses and enjoy after a few hours.

The recipe yields 7 tartlets but I made 6 and 2 tiny ones.

Yield: 7 tarts


for the pâte sucrée (pastry)
275 g all-purpose flour
25 g ground blanched almonds (see note in the beginning of the recipe)
50 g icing sugar
Scraped seeds from ½ vanilla pod
¼ tsp salt
175 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing the pans
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp ice cold water

1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp cream, full-fat (35%)

for the crème légère (filling)
1 large egg yolk
50 g caster sugar
10 g corn flour
5 g all-purpose flour
200 ml strawberry purée (from 280 g fresh strawberries, see note in recipe instructions)
40 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
40 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
150 ml cream, full-fat (35%)

500 g strawberries, to top the tartlets
Icing sugar, for sieving on top
Fresh mint leaves, chopped, for sprinkling on top

Special equipment: fine sieve, large food processor, rolling pin, plastic wrap, fluted tart pans (their base should be 8-9 cm in diameter) preferably with removable bottoms, baking paper, baking weights or dried beans, pastry brush, wire whisk, hand-held electric mixer


for the pâte sucrée (pastry)
Note: You can use already ground almonds or you can grind your own. I always grind my own almonds. In this case, I finely ground blanched almonds in a food processor, being careful not to reach the stage where they become wet. Then, I sieved them using a fine sieve in order to remove the bigger pieces and used them in the pastry.

• with a food processor
In a large food processor, add the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and salt and process to combine. Add the cubed cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. In a bowl, beat lightly with a fork the egg yolk with the water and add it to the food processor. Process until just combined and you have a very crumbly dough that barely holds together. Do not over process the dough.

• by hand
In a large bowl, add the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and salt and stir with a spatula. Add the cubed cold butter and, using two knives, a pastry cutter/blender or your fingertips, cut it into the flour, until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well in the middle. In a small bowl, beat lightly with a fork the egg yolk with the water and pour it in the well. Mix with your hands, working quickly, until just combined and you have a very crumbly dough that barely holds together. Don’t knead the dough.

Empty the pastry dough onto a clean work surface (do not knead it because you will activate the gluten in the flour which will make the pastry tough and it will shrink during baking), bring it together to form a disk and flatten it as much as you can, using a rolling pin, to form a somewhat thin rectangle. This way it will be quicker and easier to roll it out. Cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill, for about 1 hour.

At this point start making the crème légère (filling). See instructions further down.

Note: You can make the pastry a day before and keep it in the fridge.

Using a pastry brush, lightly grease the bottom and sides of your tart pans.

Remove the pastry dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and discard the plastic wrap and place dough between two large sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry to a thickness of 2-3 mm, taking care to keep the dough neat and tear-free.
Remove the top sheet of baking paper and using a tart pan as your guide cut rounds of dough with a knife (the rounds should be 12-13 cm in diameter). You should have 6 rounds. Gather the scraps of dough, roll into a ball, form into a disk and place it in the fridge to firm up. Remove it after 15 minutes, roll it out and cut out your seventh tart base.

Note: Cut and line a trial pastry base to see how it fits in the tart pan. Continue cutting the rest accordingly.

Carefully and gently place the dough rounds onto the prepared tart pans, allowing them to fall little-by-little onto the pan base. Carefully and gently line the tart pans with the pastry, pushing it into the curved sides of each pan. If it tears, don’t fret; just use the overhanging dough to cover those tears. Using the back of a knife, cut the excess dough that’s hanging around the edges of the pans.
Place the tart pans in the refrigerator and chill the dough for about 45 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Take the tart pans out of the refrigerator and prick the base of the dough with a fork all around. Line the bottom and sides of the dough with a large enough piece of baking paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pans on a baking sheet and on the middle rack of the oven. Bake the pastry cases for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small bowl, add 1 egg yolk and the cream, and mix well with a fork.
Take the pan out of the oven, remove the baking paper along with the pie weights from all the tart pans carefully not to tear the dough underneath. Brush the base and sides of the pastry cases well with the egg yolk-cream mixture and return pans to the oven while still on top of the baking sheet. Bake for another 7-8 minutes or until the dough is golden.

Note: The glazing of the pastry “seals” it, preventing it from getting soggy and soft when the filling is added.

Remove tart pans from the oven, transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely and then remove the pastry from each pan leaving them onto the wire rack.

for the crème légère (filling)
While the pastry dough is resting, start making the crème légère, which will also need time to cool in the refrigerator before using.

Note: To make the strawberry purée, rinse and hull the fresh strawberries and add them to a food processor. Process until you have a smooth purée, pass it through a fine sieve to get rid of the seeds and keep it in a bowl.

Crème légère means light cream and it’s a crème pâtissière with the addition of soft whipped cream. So to start, you first need to make a crème pâtissière.

In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, add the egg yolk, sugar, corn flour and flour and whisk. You will have something that resembles breadcrumbs.

In a medium-sized saucepan, add the strawberry purée, the orange juice and the lemon juice and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Pour the juices over the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to combine, making sure the mixture is lump-free.
Pour this custard mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until it comes to the boil. Then boil for a further 3-4 minutes until you have a thick mixture. It should have the texture of loose mayonnaise.
Empty the crème pâtissière into a clean bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap adheres to the surface of the cream which will prevent it from forming a skin.
Place it in the refrigerator for an hour or until it has cooled.

Note: You can make the crème pâtissière a day before and keep it in the fridge.

When the crème pâtissière has cooled, whip the cream with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Whisk the crème pâtissière with a wire whisk to loosen it and fold the whipped cream into the crème pâtissière gently, using a spatula. What you have now is the crème légère.
The texture of the crème légère must not be stiff but soft and fluffy like a light mousse.

Assemble the tartlets
Fill the tart shells with the crème légère mixture. As mentioned at the top, the remaining mixture can be used to make popsicles.
Hull the fresh strawberries and pat them dry so they don’t have any moisture on them. Arrange them on top of the tartlets.
Right before you want to serve the tarts, sieve some icing sugar on top and sprinkle with some chopped fresh mint leaves.

You can keep the tarts in the refrigerator, uncovered (or lightly covered with a piece of plastic wrap) for 3-4 days.


  1. you could open your own pastry shop with these! YUM! I could eat ten to start. :)

  2. Hello dear! We should totally make a food blog event together! Have a look at my blueberry and passion fruit tart! So funny how great minds... And by the way, thanks for the pâte sucrée translation, I didn't know how to translate this one! But I love when you use french words to speak about patisserie. It's kind of chic! haha so chauvinist I am! xx cathy

    1. Hi Cathy. Haha that's the official name so that's what I use :)

  3. These are calling my name, Magda! As much as I love chocolate, the freshness of a berry tart really gets me excited! Alas, strawberry season is long gone here, unless I want the flavorless supermarket variety. 😒 But I will remember these for next year.

    1. Already?? Oh that's a shame! We have strawberries here til July!

  4. These tarts look amazing! I love how you included process shots in the recipe - it's nice to see exactly what it should look like.

    1. Thanks Lindsey. I always include process photos to help those who want to make my recipes.

  5. YES!!! I have been looking for a recipe for the strawberry crème legere for weeks now. It looks delicious.

  6. This recipe looks amazing! Can you provide the recipe in ounces/cups for us westerners?

    1. Thank you. I'm afraid I can't, I never use cups. You can use a converter on the internet to convert the grams to ounces.