Saturday, June 28, 2008

Is it Chocolate?'s Balsamic!

When my friend Terra brought this tart to our Cornell Gourmet Club potluck, I thought to myself, "Wow! Chocolate and berries! My favorite combination!" I eagerly took a bite and immediately realized the custard was not chocolate. It was a familiar flavor, slightly tart yet sweet, but I could not for the life of me figure out what it was.

When she told me it was balsamic vinegar, I thought "Of course!" and immediately asked for the recipe. The slightly sour custard enhanced the sweetness of the berries, making it a light and
lovely summer dessert. Everyone at the potluck loved it, including me! Here is the recipe:

Balsamic Custard Tart with Fresh Fruit

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon whipping cream

1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (we generally just use regular baslsamic;
it just looks prettier if you use white)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

(I've also made this with other assortments of fruit (kiwis,
pears, what-have-you), and it seems to work well regardless)

2 large strawberries, hulled, sliced
2 1/2-pint containers blueberries
1 1/2-pint container raspberries
1 T orange marmalade (optional)

For crust:

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in processor; blend 5 seconds. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolk and cream. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Press dough evenly into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce dough all over with fork. Chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 22 minutes. Cool.

For filling:
Stir cream and cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Add eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla; whisk to blend.

Boil vinegar in heavy medium saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water, sugar, and butter. Stir until butter melts; return to boil. Gradually whisk vinegar mixture into egg mixture; return to pan. Whisk until custard thickens and boils, about 1 minute. Strain
into bowl; cool. Spread custard in prepared crust. Cover and chill tart at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.

For topping:
Arrange berries as desired. Cover loosely and chill until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 6 hours ahead.)

I added a glaze to keep the berries fresh. Melt 1 T of orange or apricot marmalade in a saucepan. Brush onto the berries.

Fool your friends and family with this fool-proof, festive tart!


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