Well it’s been quite a while between tarts, so I thought I’d better get busy. I made this one a couple of times to get it perfect (you gotta do what you gotta do) – so now the pastry is super short with a lovely little crunch and I have made the vanilla custard centre kind of cheesecakey so that the result is soft and luscious, but it still holds it’s shape. On top, it’s just natural sweet/tart blackberries lightly dusted in icing (powdered) sugar. As we have just had our first day of autumn, I wanted to create an alternative take on a hot blackberries and custard dessert, so I’m hoping a version of this might work for spring and summer too – just swapping out the blackberries to the first berries of the season. In other news Rich is home from school today with an upset stomach and abdominal pain (fingers crossed not appendicitis), Nick is in South Africa (I think the kids have been sick 10x as much when he is overseas as when he is home their entire lives…) and Henry is hard at work in his first semester of the year in Wellington, having survived his recent flat warming party in one piece- hurrah!
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
125g cream cheese
1 tbsp custard powder
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 vanilla bean split lengthways, seeds scraped out woth the tip of a knife
2 egg yolks
1 cup cream
2 cups fresh berries
1/4 cup icing sugar
You will need a 25cm round tart tin with a removable base for this recipe. Whiz butter, icing sugar and flour just until it forms big clumpy breadcrumbs. Tip onto the bench and squash and pat into a big round fat sausage about 14cm long, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Remove the pastry from the fridge, sit for 5 minutes, then slice into 1/2 cm thick rounds. Lay out onto the bottom of the tin and squish into place on the base and up the sides of the tin. Chill in the freezer forhalf an hour while the oven preheats to 190˚C (350˚F).
Now – do not fudge this bit – it makes all the difference, gently prick the base of the pastry with a fork and cut out a circle baking paper, a little larger than the tin. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice – it must come at least some way up the sides of the pastry, what you want is to pre-cook it so it doesn’t shrink or go soggy. Cook for 12 minutes, carefully remove paper and beans/rice and cook a further 6-8 minutes until lightly golden. While this is cooking put cream cheese, custard powder, caster sugar and scraped vanilla seeds into a food processor and blend until smooth. Add eggs and yolks and blend for a few seconds before adding cream and whizzing for 20 seconds until smooth.
Once pastry is ready (baked ‘blind’) remove it from the oven, place on a baking tray and gently pour in the filling – by my calculations you should be just about spot on with the amount – you want it to come almost to the top. Reduce oven temperature to 150˚C (300˚F) then very gently pop tart back into the oven and cook a further 40 minutes until set but still with a bit of wobble in the middle. Turn the oven off, open the door wide and let it sit there for 5-10 minutes before removing to cool on the bench, then in the fridge. (If yours looks like it hasn’t set quite enough just leave it in another 5-10 minutes!).
The tart can be made the day before or in the morning of the day you want to serve it. Remove from the fridge half an hour before serving. To serve just top with berries, a sprinkling of icing sugar and if you fancy a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream on the side. Serves 8-10