Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Custard Tart

Custard has somehow remained a tricky dessert in my family. The family recipe for custard pie always ended up tasting like hard boiled eggs. Not very appetizing. Lucky for the students at Hogwarts, the House Elves don't seem to have difficulty preparing their custard tarts:

"'I must go back to the feast, Minerva, I've got to give out a few notices. Come Severus, there's a delicious-looking custard tart I want to sample" (Chamber of Secrets 82).

If Dumbledore likes it, it must be good! I'll be using the recipe included in The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. One thing to note however: I used a pie pan instead of a tart pan (because I don't own a tart pan). Tart pans are usually smaller and have vertical sides, so the custard filling was not quite enough to fill the crust.

For the Crust, You Will Need:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
Note: Generally, baking calls for unsalted butter. If you only have salted butter, you can use it, just remove the pinch of salt from the ingredients (which is what I did today).

For the Custard, You Will Need:
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla

1. For the crust, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

2. Scatter the butter pieces over the powder and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse yellow meal, without any white powdery bits remaining. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
3. Beat the egg yolk with the cream and vanilla and pour it into the flour mixture.

4. Toss with a spatula until it sticks together. If too dry, add another Tbs of cream (you might want to do this, I didn't and regretted it later. Better too wet than too dry!).

5. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface into an 11-inch circle. You might need to let it rest on the floured surface for a few minutes if it's too hard.

7. Transfer the dough into the tart pan (preferably with a removable bottom) and trim off the excess. Freeze the shell for 10 minutes.

8. Remove from the freezer and line with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights (or beans). Bake until the dough is dry and set, about 20 minutes.
9. Remove the weights and foil, reduce the heat to 350 degrees, and continue baking until the crust is golden, about 8 minutes.
10. While the crust is baking, prepare the custard. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan until hot but not yet simmering.
11. In the meantime, whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth.

12. Temper the yolk mixture with 1/2 cup of the hot milk and then pour the hot yolk mixture back into the saucepan.
13. Continue to cook the custard, stirring continuously, until the whisk scrapes up some thickened bits of custard. Do not let the custard simmer or boil.
14. Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

15. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Pour the hot custard into the hot crust and bake until the custard puffs up but is still jiggly, about 15 minutes.

16. Remove the tart from the oven and set out to cool completely before serving. The custard should set up as it cools.

Mmmm, this is a delicious dessert! No wonder Dumbledore wanted to try it! Enjoy!

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