Sunday, September 01, 2019

Custard Tart

I had been meaning to make a custard tart (or pie, depending on the recipe). I tried the tofu-based blackberry custard pie from the Minimalist Baker cookbook, but it was a mess. I baked it for 1h45m (which was 30 minutes more than the longest time recommended, even though my oven runs hot), but it was still more than jiggly, and refrigerating it didn’t help. The pieces fell apart, and it wasn’t that good. But then, with lactose-free cream in Canada, I tried Bon Appétit’s latest recipe for custard tart. Honestly, if you skip the whipped cream garnish, which I did anyway, you could probably just use coconut milk for this to keep it lactose-free.

I’m not sure that “tart” or “pie” is a good name for that dish, because it doesn’t have a crust! I’m not sure what a good name would be, though, because I’m lacking a generic term for this type of dessert. I’m sure it would be good in a crust, too, but it held together just fine on its own. If you do use a crust, I recommend a deep-dish pie plate or springform pan instead of a cake pan. It is topped with sugar before being baked, which means that the top will darken – it’s supposed to be a bit like crème brûlée, though that’s not the effect that I got. I’d bake mine a bit less next time or top it with foil if it got too dark before it was set, because I think I would prefer it a bit paler.

The big draw of this recipe was supposed to be that you don’t have to temper the eggs, you just bring everything to a boil together very slowly. Honestly, I’ve never minded tempering eggs, but I followed the recipe. However, I didn’t at all get the custardy texture I would have expected from a crème brûlée; instead, it was much heavier, with a texture similar to cheesecake. That being said, it was delicious! You could even make it on a graham cracker crust like a cheesecake. It’s meant to be served with whipped cream and fresh fruit, whatever is in season (you could poach the fruit or serve it in syrup, too).

¾ cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more for pan
8 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
⅔ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 cups lactose-free whole milk
1½ cups chilled lactose-free cream, divided (see note above)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1½ tsp. vanilla extract or paste
1 lb. stone fruit, cut into wedges, blueberries and/or blackberries (see note above)

Grease a 9"-diameter cake pan (mine was 2” deep). Line bottom with a round of parchment paper; smooth out and grease again. Coat sides with sugar, tapping out excess.

Gently whisk egg yolks, eggs, cornstarch, salt, and ¾ cup sugar in a large saucepan until smooth, then whisk vigorously until lightened in color, 1–2 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually stream in milk, followed by 1 cup cream; scrape sides of pan. Scrape in vanilla seeds; discard pod. Cook mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken, then whisk vigorously until it holds marks of whisk, 6–10 minutes. Immediately remove custard from heat (do not let boil); let cool slightly.

Using a rubber spatula, press custard through a fine-mesh sieve into prepared pan (I skipped the step of the sieve, because my custard seemed nice and smooth already). Chill, uncovered, 20 minutes (it should be warm but not hot). Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400°.

Bake custard until top is deeply browned in spots, 40–50 minutes (it will still be wobbly in the center). Let cool.

Toss fruit with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes.

Slide a knife around sides of custard to loosen and place a plate upside down over custard; invert onto plate. Peel away parchment and invert again onto another plate. Whisk remaining ½ cup cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Serve slices of custard topped with fruit and whipped cream.

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