After making pavlova for the first time, I found myself with four extra egg yolks. If it were winter I’d happily mix them into a batch of pasta a la carbonara, but it’s just too hot out to eat something so heavy for dinner– I decided to go with dessert instead. And since I was mysteriously short on ramekins, creme brulée was out… or was it?
I found a recipe for creme brulée tart that looked interesting– shortcrust pastry, layer of custard, and of course the caramelized top– and decided to give it a shot. I’ll say right now that there was a problem with this tart, but I think it was more in my execution than an issue with the recipe– while my crust looked fine (a little shrinkage, but mostly fine) during my blind-bake, for some reason it bubbled up in one spot during the custard-baking session, which made for a very odd-looking surface. It looked fine once I sugared and torched the top, but I had to be careful not to serve the slice with the giant crust-bubble in it, since it was dangerously short on custard!
Aside from that, the tart came together pretty easily. The crust is pulsed up in the food processor, and the custard filling doesn’t need any pre-cooking or thickening before being poured into the baked crust for a last session in the oven. The original recipe called for me to steep my dairy with a vanilla bean for half an hour, but since I used extract I got to skip that step and just warm the cream before mixing.
The tart itself is delicious– rich and creamy, with a nice buttery crust. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the egg tarts you get at dim sum restaurants, but a little less eggy and with the welcome addition of caramelized sugar. I still like regular creme brulée best, but this is a nice variation!
Creme Brulée Tart (from Epicurious)
For tart shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and cubed butter. Pulse until there are a few pea-sized pieces of butter left.
- Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and pulse a few times. Pick up a handful of the mixture and squeeze it to see if it holds together. If so, proceed to the next step. If not, add more water 1/2 tablespoon at a time and pulse until it does.
- Dump your mixture onto a lightly floured board and smear handfuls of it into the board with the heel of your hand to distribute the butter into layers. Press resulting dough into a 5″ disk and chill for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic.
- Roll out cold dough into a 13″ round and press into a 9″ removable-bottom tart pan. Fold edges over double to reinforce the sides. Chill for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line chilled tart shell with foil or parchment and weigh down with beans or rice. Bake for about 20 minutes until edges are lightly golden and dough is set. Remove foil and beans and continue to bake until golden, about 10-15 minutes.
- Set baked tart shell onto 4-sided- baking sheet lined with foil, and turn oven down to 300 degrees.
For custard filling:
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 whole large egg
6 tbs. sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
More sugar (granulated or turbinado) for topping
- Combine cream and milk in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup, and heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until warm. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Whisk together egg, egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and salt until smooth. Combine with cream mixture and whisk some more.
- Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup– it will *just* fit into a 2-cup measure.
- Place baking sheet with baked crust into the pulled-out rack of the oven, then carefully pour in the custard. Slide the rack back in and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until custard is mostly set but wobbly in the center.
- Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then remove sides of pan and cool to room temperature before chilling completely.
- To brulée: sprinkle remaining sugar generously over surface of tart and torch until caramelized. Keep in mind that the custard will soften from the heat, so the tart may not slice easily afterwards– you may want to slice the tart before brulee-ing to make serving easier.
- You can also make the tart the day before and chill it overnight– just wait to add the sugar and brulée until just before serving.