June 30, 2014

Star-Studded Berry Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream

It's hard to believe it's almost the 4th of July.  The summer is whizzing by at lightening speed.  Even though I don't have summers off, like I did when I was a kid, I enjoy the slower pace the warm season brings.  I'm sure there are a lot of parents with school age children that enjoy the break from homework too, I really did.  
I've had this recipe in my pile for a long time and am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to make and share these lovely little Berry Tarts.  

I was crossing my fingers that our cute little blueberry bush would produce enough ripe berries in time to make this recipe.

And I was thrilled to pick just enough ripe blueberries before the birds ate them all.  It's pretty silly to put bird feeders and a blueberry bush in the same corner of the yard - guess some body's going to move!

These tarts have a lovely buttery crust, only lightly sweetened with a great nutty flavor.  It tastes almost like an unsweetened Pecan Sandie Cookie and you can make the whole thing in a food processor.  Bonus!  Process the flour, pecans, sugar and salt until the nuts are finely ground.

Add the butter and ice cold water and pulse a few times until the dough comes together.

Soon you have a soft, nutty dough.  Easy-peasy!

The dough is refrigerated while you prepare the vanilla pasty cream.  Once properly chilled, roll the dough and cut into 3-by-4 inch rectangles.

Crimp the edges with your fingers and cut out small stars from the scraps, one for each tart.  Bake and cool.

Spread each tart crust with a generous amount of the pastry cream.  Top with fresh raspberries and blueberries and a dusting of confectioners' sugar just before serving.

These little tarts made their way to a 4th of July party complete with an extravagant fireworks display.  

I think they are delicious with layers of flavor from the nutty crust, to the rich vanilla cream and juicy berries that burst with flavor.  A perfectly wonderful combination!

Star-Studded Berry Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream

For the crust:
2-1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 Tablespoons ice cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Pasty Cream:
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk, divided
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

To prepare the crust combine the flour, pecans, sugar and salt in a food processor.  Pulse until the pecans are finely ground.   Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Drizzle the cold water on top and pulse until the dough comes together.  Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap.  Press the dough into a large disc shape and cover.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.  While the dough is chilling, prepare the pastry cream.

To make the pastry cream combine the milk, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar and the vanilla in a medium saucepan.  Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium heat.  Whisk 1/2 cup of the buttermilk, the egg  yolks, cornstarch and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar together in a medium mixing bowl.  Slowly drizzle (temper) the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking constantly.  Return the combined mixture back into the saucepan and heat while whisking constantly until it is thick and bubbly.  Remove from the heat and add the last remaining 3 tablespoons buttermilk.  Pour the cream into a clean bowl and lay plastic wrap on the surface.  Refrigerate about 45 minutes.  While the pastry cream cools, prepare the tart crusts.

Lightly flour a large sheet of parchment paper.  Roll out the dough on the parchment to about a 10-by-14 inch rectangle.  Trim into an 8-by-12 inch rectangle, reserving the scraps.  Cut the rectangle into eight 3-by-4 inch rectangles.  Separate the pieces slightly on the parchment and use your fingers to crimp the edges.  Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.  Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.  Lightly flour a small piece of parchment paper.  Gather the dough scraps and roll out to the same thickness as the tarts, about 1/4 inch, on the parchment.  Cut and crimp another 2 or 3 tarts into 3-by-4 inch rectangles plus enough stars to top each one.  You should end up with about 10 tarts and 10 stars.  Transfer the parchment to another baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. 

If you still have a small amount of left over dough, roll into cookie size balls and flatten to the same thickness as the crusts.  Bake along with the crust for a nice lightly sweet cookie.

To bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Poke holes in the crust with a fork.  Brush the stars and the edges of the crust with the beaten egg.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove to a rack and cool completely before topping with the pastry cream.

To assemble the tarts, divide the pastry cream on top of each tart crust.  Top with fresh berries and a cookie star.  Sprinkle with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

(recipe adapted from a Food Network Kitchen recipe)


We're going to spend the holiday with our daughter and son-in-law helping them with their new house.  We paint, we clean, and they feed us.  I think my son-in-law promised hamburgers on the grill, so I'm all in!  Guess I should carry some watermelon with me so it will feel like a holiday!  I hope you have wonderful fun plans with family and/or friends.  Enjoy and be safe!

Thanks so much for stopping by!



  1. Not only do these look stunning but I love the sound of that delicious, nutty tart crust! Beautiful, Tricia!

  2. I love adding pecans to my pastry. I just gives it a depth of flavor that is irresistible. These little tarts look wonderful. What a great treat for the 4th.

  3. Wonderful tarts Tricia - and they are too pretty to eat! You make the BEST treats!! Really you do.
    Have a wonderful week, and wonderful holiday weekend! ALL the best, Anna and Liz

  4. These are gorgeous Tricia, love that you added pecans to your crust. So nice to use your own berries. Happy 4th to you!

  5. These are gorgeous Tricia. I was in the same boat with our blueberry bushes. Last year the birds got every last one. This year we actually have been able to pick a few each morning for our yogurt. Not a bumper crop but much better than last year. Love your pecan crust, that sounds just amazing!

  6. OH MY! These look WONDERFUL! :) Have FUN with your family for the Holiday! :D

  7. wow homegrown blueberries!! You are amazing!
    These tarts are truly gorgeous, Tricia. Nutty pecan crust and creamy pastry cream...a perfect pairing.

  8. Ah, what a delight to my eyes! Beautiful mini version tarts!

    ela h.
    Gray Apron

  9. Your tarts so so cute! :) And they look delicious too, especially the crust! I'm so jealous of your blueberry bush! I love blueberries but fresh blueberries are always so expensive :(

  10. Your tarts are just beautiful! Pinning for sure :) The crust sounds so good with the pecans in it. I'm glad you got some berries before the birds ate them.

  11. This is like way too pretty to eat! We have raspberries coming. I always hope I get enough at one time to make something! But no bird feeders. The squirrels would see to that! Have a happy 4th! It looks like you will be making lots of others happy, too!

  12. What fun, to have home grown blueberries! Our backyard critters always get to the produce before we do! Sometimes they eat the plants before the fruits or veggies even have a chance to grow! Your 4thof July tarts are so pretty! I can imagine the ohhs and ahhhs when these are served! Eating pastry cream on these flavorful crusts might be as good as my favorite method...eating it on a spoon!:) I love pastry cream with fresh fruit!

  13. Beautiful tarts! They're just perfect for a celebration. :) Jealous of your blueberries- the deer have decapitated every bush I've ever planted.


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