Megan's Cookin' picked out our Martha Monday recipe . . . this strawberry tart touted as a Mother's Day treat. It looked like a winner except for the filling. I just couldn't bring myself to believe that cream cheese and sugar alone would make a good tart filling. I hemmed and hawed. My instinct was to make the tart but to use Julia Child's pastry cream as the filling. I knew that would work. But it just didn't feel like the true Martha Monday spirit to not try the recipe as it was. What to do? MAKE TWO TARTS OF COURSE!!!!
My neighbor suggested that I put the two tarts to the test. And she volunteered to be one of the many tasters! So, I set to work. For both I used Martha's tart crust recipe, already a favorite of mine and used in this tart as well! And I used the strawberries and currant jelly.
One got a cream cheese filling . . .
And one got a pastry cream filling . . .
And who won? Martha? Julia?
Julia was the winner in this contest. Not everyone was a fan of cream cheese in general. A few liked how its tang contrasted with the sweet berries. But most loved the lush creaminess of the pastry cream with the juicy berries. Martha's cream cheese tart won marks for its sturdiness. It can be made ahead and refrigerated with no problem. Julia's pastry cream tart, while tastier, should really be made right before serving so the crust doesn't get soggy. So, there's the tale of two tarts. If you want to make Martha's, head on over here. If you want to use Julia's pastry cream for the filling use the recipe below. You won't be disappointed!
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup flour
2 cups boiling milk
1 tablespoon butter
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the wire whip, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks. Beat for about 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow, thick, and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon on the surface of the mixture when the whisk is pulled away.
2. Add the flour and beat until combined.
3. Beating the yolk mixture, slowly pour in the boiling milk in a thin stream.
4. Pour mixture into a saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk constantly. As sauce comes to a boil it will get lumpy but will smooth out as you beat it. When the mixture reaches a boil, beat it over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. Be very careful not to scorch the custard on the bottom of the pan. (I always have a bit of browned custard stuck to the bottom of my pan and no one has complained yet.)
5. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla. Pour into a clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill. Pastry cream may be refrigerated up to a week or may be kept frozen.