Thursday 17 January 2013

Fresh Mini Strawberry Tarts and Sunny Ridge Farm

They aren't as pretty as I would have liked....
But I'll fix that next time

I went exploring the Mornington Peninsula last week. I have forever been meaning to visit Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, then like clockwork, every day off work I have forgotten all about it, just to commence my desire to visit upon my first day back at work.

This week I remembered so I piled myself into the car and drove down. When you arrive at Sunny Ridge there is a gazebo where you pay your entry ($8 per adult) and each receive a punnet to fill at your own delight (provided the lid closes comfortably).

Excitedly I made my way down to the public picking area and began the search for the best strawberries. Only the reddest and juiciest would make the cut.

An hour later, I was stocked up and ready to move on. I was overwhelmed by all the ideas popping through my head. How would I make use of these delicious strawberries.

Apparently, the trick with strawberries is not to wash them until you are ready to eat them. That way they keep their freshness and taste.

When I got home I set upon making some mini Strawberry Tarts. Note my hesitation... It is rather justified if you happen to remember the apple tart debacle of recent. I was going to be extra careful with these tarts....

I will make one confession. I was being gluttonous.. I wanted to take them to a party I was attending in 3 hours. In order to achieve this I did buy store bought pastry to eliminate hours of preparation. They still came out delicious but if you have time to make your own sweet pastry I would recommend this for better results. It's definitely on the list for next time.

Mini Strawberry Tarts:
Makes 10 (7cm tart tins)

Shortcrust pastry sheets x 3 (homemade or store bought)
Mini tart tins

For the filling:
235ml milk
2 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
A drop or two of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornflour
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
20 strawberries
Blueberries (optional)

1. Lay out your pastry. If using homemade pastry, roll out to approx 5mm thick.
Cut 10 x circles to fit your tart tins. Mine were 10cm. Blind bake for approx 15 mins or until golden. (If you are unfamiliar with Blind Baking please see my instructions in the quiche post). When golden remove from oven and place on cooking racks until ready to use.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, whisk at medium speed the egg yolks, 60ml of the milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the cornflour and salt and mix until combined.

3. Heat the remaining milk to just before boiling in a saucepan. Pour the hot milk in a slow, steady stream into the mixture, whisking constantly on medium speed as you pour. When combined pour the entire mix into the saucepan.

4. Whisk the mixture over a medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of custard. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter.

5. Pour the custard into a bowl and place the bottom of the bowl into a bowl of iced-water to cool, whisking occasionally.

6. When cooled, pour into a piping bag (i used a squeezy bottle to make life a bit easier. a sauce bottle will do the job well). Place into the fridge until you are ready to use it.

7. Chop the tops off the strawberries and halve.

8. Fill the pastry cases with the custard mix and arrange 4 strawberry halves on each tart so the bottoms either point outwards or meet in the middle. Place blueberries, if using, in between each strawberry (and in the middle if strawberries are pointing out).

9. Refrigerate until time to eat!

I was so proud that I had succeeded. The tarts had not got the better of me this time, or so I thought.

I arranged them beautifully in a dish, glad wrapped it and headed off. Arrived at my mothers and realised the party was on a boat. Maybe a china dish was not the smartest of options. (I know you all can see where this story is going).
The cute little tarts were transferred into a plastic container still looking lovely and off we went.
We arrived at the marina, hopped on the boat and the tarts were stowed safely away in the kitchenette. I looked out to the water. It was a little windy.

We all chose our seats and off we went for a lovely, rocky sail... We were only out on Port Phillip Bay so when I say rocky please don't think it was stormy seas, it doesn't even get real waves. Having said that, as the boat tipped to the sides my life was flashing before my eyes.
When we headed back we remained on the boat and all brought out our goodies to share.
My tarts were the last to appear. And I was devastated.
The rocking had caused the custard to shift and now they were lopsided tarts with custard spilling off the edge and strawberries hanging on for dear life. It was a mess. Thankfully there were mostly boys on board so the mess was not cause for hesitation and I was grateful that the feedback was positive. Apparently they tasted delicious.

Did they work for you? Let me know...

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on Urbanspoon

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