I tend to go through stages of obsession with a particular flavour or ingredient, using it a ton in recipes and then forgetting about it for a while. Toasted almonds are my current obsession. I love nothing more than toasting up a handful of whole almonds at work to snack on throughout the day. I really like the combinations that come into play in this recipe. The satisfying snap of the crust when your fork breaks through, the silky smooth vanilla cream, the tart bite of the berries all underpinned by the aroma and flavour of toasted almond. Feel free to use other berries in this recipe, blackberries would look especially nice against the pale cream. The recipe for the pastry cream came from The Barefoot Contessa. I used 3 inch tart tins and this recipe made 6, but you could make this into one large tart or into smaller tarts if you want.
Strawberry-almond cream tart
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup sugar
7 tbsp cold butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup plus 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter
1 pint of strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
In a food processor, combine the almonds and sugar. Pulse until they are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the butter, flour, egg yolks and salt. Mix together, form into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
To make the pastry cream bring the milk to a boil in a medium sized pot and remove from the heat. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high for 4-5 minutes until fluffy and pale in colour. Switch to low speed and beat in the corn starch. Slowly add the hot milk. Immediately transfer the liquid back to the pan and using a whisk stir continuously over low heat. The mixture will take a couple of minutes to thicken while you stir. Once thickened, remove from the heat and add the vanilla and butter. Cover with plastic wrap, touching the wrap to the surface of the pasty cream so a skin doesn't form. Refrigerate for at least one hour.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 6, 3 inch tart tins.
Press the crust into the tart tins. Place a piece of parchment over the crust and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the beans and parchment and bake for a further 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To assemble the tarts remove the tart shells from the tins. Spoon the cream into the tarts and arrange strawberry slices on top. Sprinkle with a few toasted almonds.
Refrigerate until serving.