Saturday, June 30, 2012

#Baketogether with Abby Dodge: Very Berry (or Cherry) Mini Pies with Creamy English Custard Sauce


Beautiful little tart cherries.  They just mean summer to me.

I’ve known for a whole month now that this month’s #baketogether dish is for some beautiful very berry mini pies with a crumb topping (one of my absolute favorites) and I have been chomping at the bit to try them.  Well, things kept coming up that needed my immediate attention (cherry picking, Tillamook, Denver Burger Week and some re-upholstery work) so here we are, the last day of the month and I am finally posting my interpretation.
My latest project

Abby’s original recipe just looked so good that I really didn’t know what I was going to do to make this recipe mine, then it struck me.  Since I have spent no less than two days this week up the street stripping my neighbor’s sour cherry tree of its fruit and the rest of the week canning it, I decided on English inspired jam tarts (surprised it’s something English?).

It just so happens that my last batch of cherry jam turned out a little loose due to the impatience of the cook, so I’m now calling it pie filling.   Just as I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do with it, this month's Bake Together came to mind.  Seeing that it worked perfectly for this recipe I guess it is really a good thing that I waited.

Ok so now I’ve got some great little jam tarts with a tart and bright flavor, but there’s still just a little something missing.  I got to thinking that if I were to make these for my friends in England I would serve them with either heavy unwhipped cream or with warm custard.  Since I posted a Bakewell pudding blog with heavy pouring cream not long ago, custard it is. 
English custard or crème Anglaise as it is also known, is a sweet, creamy, thinner version of American vanilla pudding.  Served as an accompaniment to desserts, it is something just a bit different if you would like a break from ice cream or whipped cream. 
This custard pairs very nicely with the brightness of the fruit in these tarts and the nuttiness of the crumble topping.  I highly recommend that you take just a little extra time and treat your guests to this simple little gem of a recipe when you are wanting to kick your dessert up just a bit. 
Here's Abby's original pie recipe:

Very Berry Mini Pies

Makes 10 mini tarts

For the dough
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon very cold water
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the streusel topping
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (5/8 ounce) quick cooking oats
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
4 tablespoons ( 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sliced almonds, lightly toasted

For the filling
1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of table salt
2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (5 ounces) fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried

Make the dough
1. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the butter and shortening pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine. Drizzle the water and lemon juice evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.
2. Dump the moist crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together. We did this “Fraisage” technique in the Savory Sables – check out the pix. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Shape into a 5-inch disc and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

Make the streusel
1. Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Add the butter and, using a fork (or your fingers), mix and mash until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Stir in the almonds. Pop in the fridge while you make the filling and assemble the tarts.
Line the tart pans
1. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease ten regular-sized (2 3/4- 3 inch diameter) muffin cups.
2. Set the wrapped, chilled dough on the counter at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, 10 to 20 minutes (depending on your kitchen temp and the weather). Arrange a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment on the work surface and put the dough in the center. Cover with another piece of plastic or parchment and press down on the dough to flatten. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the plastic or parchment to about 1/8- inch thickness, turning, lifting and repositioning the plastic or parchment and lightly flouring throughout the rolling. Using a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 8 rounds. Gather up the scraps, reroll to a 1/8-inch thickness, and cut another round. Reroll and cut one more round for a total of 10 rounds of dough.
3. Working with one round at a time, use your fingers to gently press the dough into a prepared muffin cup, making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottom and the dough is pressed firmly and evenly up the side to within 1/8 inch of the top of the cup. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. If your kitchen is hot, slide the muffin tins into the frig while you make the filling.
Make the filling and bake the tarts

1. Put the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl and, using a table fork, mix until well blended. Add 1 cup of the blueberries and, using the table fork, crush the berries while stirring them into the sugar-flour mixture. Add the remaining blueberries, raspberries and the vanilla and toss to coat evenly. Evenly spoon the filling into the lined muffin cups (they will be completely full). Scatter the streusel evenly over the filling – don’t be shy.
2. Bake until the crusts and streusel are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 27 to 29 minutes. Move the muffin tin to a wire rack. Using a paring knife, run the blade between the crust and the pan to loosen the tarts from any sticky berry juices and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a thin, metal spatula or the paring knife, carefully remove the tarts from the muffin cups and set them on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

A slightly heaping tablespoon of jam will fill the cups to the perfect level to still accommodate the crumb topping.

For my version I prepared the dough and streusel topping as directed but instead of preparing the berry filling as Abby did, I spooned in a heaping tablespoon of my homemade tart cherry jam, uh sorry, pie filling, into each dough lined muffin cup.  I then topped with equal amounts of the streusel topping as directed.  I then baked them until golden brown and served them with a healthy splash of my custard (recipe follows). 

Thanks so much Abby for a great little recipe.  The crust is tender and crumbly and they are the perfect size for everyone to have their own personal little treat. 
 English Style Custard Sauce





I call this recipe "English style" custard because it is not quite traditional with the addition of the butter, which I believe adds a nice finish in texture and flavor.  You can also add any other extracts or liqueurs that you want to make it your own.  It is a fun recipe to play with and make your own.  Feel free to serve this at any temperature you desire but you may need add just a little extra milk to thin it down if you serve it cold from the fridge.  I think you’re really going to love it.
2 cups half and half
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter
Place the half and half in a heavy bottom saucepan set over a medium heat.  Bring to a simmer.
While the half and half is heating, stir together the yolks, sugar, corn starch and vanilla extract; set aside.
Once the half and half comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat and add it to the egg mixture in a slow steady stream while whisking the egg mixture to temper it. 
When you have mixed approximately 3/4 of the half and half with the eggs, whisk that mixture back into the remaining half and half in the saucepan. 
Return the saucepan back to a medium heat and, while stirring constantly, bring it back to a simmer.  By this time the mixture will be thick and creamy.  Remove from the heat as soon as it thickens.  Since cornstarch isn't as stable as flour, keeping it on the heat too long will cause it to break and thin back down.  Stir in the butter. 

If you are not serving it immediately, cover it with plastic wrap so it does not form a skin on top.
Makes approximately 2 – 1/4 cups
Very Cherry Mini Pies with English Style Custard



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