Strawberry Tart & Supermoon: Welcome Summer!

What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than under a perigee supermoon (the closest and largest full moon of 2013)…

Supermoon 2013

with an equally spectacular strawberry tart?

Olive's Strawberry Tart

My Strawberry Tart is a simple but elegant way to showcase the fragrant, local field strawberries that I picked up at Streetsville Farmers’ Market on Saturday.

Local Field Strawberries

Based on the gorgeous fruit tarts popular in France during festival time, my recipe is an easy and relatively healthy summer dessert that looks almost as stunning as a tarte aux fraises from a fine Parisian pâtisserie. After listening to the utterly charming audiobook French Women Don’t Get Fat (read by the author herself, Mireille Guiliano), I learned that the fattening pastry cream, that is often spread over the base of a tarte aux fraises, is not necessary. Great, because I am not crazy about pastry cream, but olive strawberries!

Olive's Tarte aux Fraises

There are a few easy steps to this tart. You can make the simple syrup required for the coulis well in advance. It keeps for 2 to 3 weeks in your fridge and can be used to dress a fruit salad or to sweeten homemade lemonade or ice tea.

Bake the crisp, shortbread cookie crust in the morning, filling your kitchen with a delicious aroma, then set it aside to cool. It has a hint of ground almonds, which you can replace with flour if there are allergy concerns.

Later (at least two hours before you want to serve the tart), fill the tart with a concentric arrangement of the prettiest, similar-sized, scarlet-coloured strawberries you can find. Then make the coulis and glaze the berries immediately. The berries will glisten under the coulis; both will perfume the air with sweetness. Refrigerate the tart for at least two hours to allow the coulis to set. It’s best eaten the day it’s made but it is still good the next day or two, with a softer crust. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream if you wish.

You can use other seasonal fruit instead, such as raspberries, peaches, or apricots (but not kiwi, pineapple, papaya, or figs). Make sure you use the same fruit for the coulis.

Olive’s Strawberry Tart

Simple Syrup:

1 ¼ cups white granulated sugar
1 cup water

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until sugar has dissolved, stirring a couple of times. When the sugar is completely dissolved, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Boil for 5 minutes. Cool before storing in a covered jar in your fridge for up to 2 to 3 weeks. Can be used to dress a fruit salad or sweeten homemade lemonade or ice tea.

Shortbread Cookie Crust:

1 cup flour (measured by spooning flour into cup and leveling off with a knife)
1/3 cup finely ground almonds (option: replace with an equal amount of flour)
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in small cubes

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the inside of a 10” round tart pan with straight, fluted sides and a removable bottom.

Mix the flour, ground almonds, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl with a whisk until combined. Cut in the butter by rubbing the flour mixture and butter between your fingertips, until the mixture blends into coarse crumbs. Knead gently with your hands to form a ball.

Distribute pieces of the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Using the heel of your hand, pat the dough to cover the bottom and sides evenly. Make sure there are no gaps. Bake on the middle oven rack for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before adding the fruit.

Strawberry Filling & Strawberry Coulis Glaze:

2 quarts of strawberries, washed, dried thoroughly, and hulled but left whole

Pick out the best-looking, similar-sized berries and arrange them on top of the crust in an attractive, concentric pattern, with their tips pointing up and their hulled ends pointing down.

Note: You will need approximately 1 ½ quarts of strawberries to fill the tart and for the coulis but buy 2 quarts just to be sure and to allow you to pick out enough of the best berries for the tart. You will need 1 ½ cups of strawberries for the coulis.

Coulis Glaze:

3 gelatin sheets
1 1/2 cups whole ripe strawberries, hulled
A squeeze of lemon juice
4 tablespoons Simple Syrup (see recipe above)

Prepare the gelatin sheets according to package directions, first following the Basic Directions and then the Cold Preparation Directions.

Meanwhile, purée the raw strawberries with a squeeze of lemon juice in a food processor. Add the simple syrup and blend. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, rubbing through with a rubber spatula. Discard the seeds and remaining pulp.

Before the gelatin begins to set, fold the gelatin into the strained coulis; then immediately pour the coulis evenly over the tart to glaze each berry. Refrigerate the tart until the coulis is set, about 2 hours. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Note: I learned the basics of simple syrup, coulis, and glazes from the Gordon Ramsay Desserts cookbook. He uses many interesting ingredients to whip up different variations of flavoured stock syrups, coulis, and glazes. It’s well worth checking out the cookbook, available from the Mississauga Library. I modified his recipes for Stock Syrup and Coulis to fit the requirements of this recipe.

One comment to Strawberry Tart & Supermoon: Welcome Summer!

  • Cobi Ladner  says:

    Wow this looks amazing! Olive’s Supertart! Olive it that it doesn’t have the custard, as well. If you wanted to add some creaminess, a dollop of whipped cream would be divine. Nice to have the option though. Thank you Olive ~ once again you’ve inspired us!

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