There are few things in this world that I would label as the BEST, but let me tell you, this is seriously the BEST pastry cream you will EVER encounter.
Pastry cream is more commonly known as a custard, a mixture of milk and egg yolks typically cooked to thicken.
Using a good quality vanilla bean definitely elevates a good pastry cream to the next level and gives you a beautifully aromatic custard with rich vanilla flavor, and those specs, those glorious vanilla been seeds… swoon!
You’re going to want to throw away your current recipe and replace it with this one because it can be manipulated in many ways to suit your needs.
Not to mention this pastry cream will have you coming back for more… and more… and well you just might find yourself resisting the urge to sit down with the bowl and the spoon ( I mean I wouldn’t blame you if you did, or judge you!)
I was playing around in the kitchen trying to find a way to perfectly highlight some fresh berries I had in the fridge, and what better way than berries and custard!
But let’s take it one step further and make a tart.
Not just any tart, but one that would feature brown sugar, cream cheese and of course berries!
I could have certainly stopped there, great vanilla bean paste and a good thick sweet custard, but why?
Pushing the flavor envelope is ALWAYS fun!
One of the easiest ways to completely change a recipe is to simply swap out the sugar, and what better substitute than brown sugar. It has such a nice light caramel undertone and gives any recipe great depth and a whole new flavor profile.
To balance the richness of the custard and the sweetness of the sugar it was only appropriate that I add an acidic element to the cream. Whether in the kitchen making a savory dish or baking up sweets, it’s extremely important that you balance the flavors, this wouldn’t be possible without acid and salt, they both play a HUGE role in baked goods.
To complete the balance in my tart I chose to add cream cheese, yup… you read that correctly, cream cheese! What better way to balance the acidity and salt and give a beautifully rich, creamy and smooth pastry cream.
The cream cheese gives you a gentle flavor, its not as strong a cheesecake would be, but the flavor is just beautiful!
I know this all sounds crazy, and makes this dish sound like it’s far to hard, but let me reassure you that it is so simple, easy and DELICIOUS that you will be looking for every excuse to make it.
Enough talking… let’s get to baking.
To make this beautiful and delicious tart
I started by making a pate sucree… OK tooo fancy, a shortbread style crust.
To balance the overall bite, I also subbed out the granulated sugar for brown sugar.
I prepared my crust according to the recipe, and baked it.
Once completely cooled… I know, it requires patience!
I took my prepared pastry cream (While still warm, not HOT) and filled the tart.
Covered it and refrigerated until set! (2-3 hours)… again we have to exercise our skills in being patient, if you dig in too soon you won’t get a perfect slice… you’ll end up with a soupy sloppy mess, delicious none the less but a mess!
Once removed from the fridge the tart was adorned with an abundance of fresh fruits.
I chose a crescent moon style arrangement for this as I wanted to show off the luxurious vanilla beans in the pastry cream.
You can do this with some of your favorite berries and you can certainly make an arrangement that covers the entire top of the tart.
Slice while chilled and serve with the berries.
I promise I won’t tell if you eat the whole thing… by yourself… in one sitting.
and I certainly won’t judge!
In fact if this is planned for a party, you should make two, you won’t want to share it!
Now, get in the kitchen and make something sweet (this tart obviously)…