Julia Child in the French Chef (Season 1, Episode 7), makes making Creme Patissiere look so easy. I tried to follow her directions and I still managed to screw up the first attempt of creme pat. I am starting to accept that that there are some things that you make that you will royally screw up the first attempt. She whips the eggs flawlessly and thickens it easily. I was not so lucky. My second attempt, worked much better. So my warning, if you’ve never made creme pat, have enough supplies to make 2 or 3 batches. Your Peach Tarts will thank you!
Julia claims, that people are delighted for french fruit tarts because of how the fruit glistens and how impressive they look. My theory is that people are delighted for these peach tarts, because they look impressive and are not as heavy as chocolate cake or other desserts. And leftover tarts make excellent breakfast.
My Peach Tarts
Last summer, I might have gone overboard with canning. Resulting in having a few jars of quartered peaches that are just waiting to be used. Some of them were infused with bourbon, others were preserved with a simple syrup. So it was time for a simple dessert based on Julia’s Classic Fruit Tart with two of these jars of fruit.
This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend. Another couple we know invited us to their back yard to sit on opposite sides of a fire pit and hang out. Now before everyone freaks out on us breaking social distancing guidelines the current guideline allows for outdoor gatherings of no more than 20 people. So we sat on other ends of the fire pit and chatted giving everyone enough space to feel safe. I thought it would be safer to make everyone their own tart instead of making 1 tart to share (I also don’t seem to own a tart pan but I own these great mini tart pans!)
In From Julia Child’s Kitchen by Julia Child (specifically my mother’s 1975 edition) she breaks down making pie crust and how using a food processor is cheating. “Pie crust dough is sinfully easy in the marvelous [food processor]; when my editor, Judith Jones, as well as my colleague, Simca, saw it in action they immediately bought one. ‘If only for pie dough.'” And she’s right, it is sinfully easy in a food processor. Everything, except the water, is dumped into the bowl of the food processor and blended for a few seconds. Ice cold water is drizzled in as the food processor runs. The whole process takes 2 minutes.
Creme Patissiere (Vanilla Pastry Cream)
Creme Patissiere (Vanilla Pastry Cream) or Creme Pat, is delightful. It doesn’t need to be super sweet. You’re looking for a creamy texture. It isn’t sticky or gummy but creamy smooth. Don’t worry if you screw it up the first time you try, Creme Pat is not easy. To make Creme Pat, in a heavy bottom pan, steam milk to just before it starts to boil. In a second bowl, beat the egg yolks and slowly mix in the sugar. According to Julia Child, if you mix the sugar in all at once, the eggs will get grainy. When the milk is hot, take a ladle full and temper it into the eggs and whisk like your life depends on it. Add a second ladle full and whisk. Pour the eggs into the hot milk and whisk whisk whisk. Add butter and vanilla and whisk it in.
In this recipe you can leave out the corn starch. The corn starch is used to thicken, the eggs do this but it takes longer. You are looking for the creme pat to coat a spoon like regular yogurt. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer If your pie crust is not ready, store in a bowl with cling wrap directly on the creme pat. This prevents a skin from forming while it chills. In the event that your creme pat gets too thick, put it in the food processor and blend with milk. Julia notes: Just brush butter onto the top and it will prevent the skin from forming. More butter doesn’t hurt the creme pat.
Just a quick note about blind baking, ceramic pie weights, and dried beans. Blind baking is when you make a pie crust and bake it without filling. This is done to prevent “soggy bottoms” which is an undercooked crust. Because pie crusts tend to puff up when cooking, a weight of some kind is used to hold the crust down.
Pie weights and beans hold heat differently. I feel like ceramic pie weights hold heat more then dried beans do and cook the pie crust quicker. One thing I don’t like about them is that they are expensive and I feel like I need 1 box for every tartlet. Dried beans are cheap and do just as good of a job as the pie weights. The tarts below on the right were baked with dried beans, while the ones on the left were baked with pie weights.
General note about this recipe. This recipe makes enough for EIGHT (8) 4 3/4 inch tarts or TWO (2) eight-inch tarts. You can cut this in half and save the second pie crust for another day. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and freeze. Sometimes it is good to have frozen pie dough on hand. When you’re ready to use, just move to the fridge the day before.
Make an extra set of Peach Tarts for breakfast. You’ll thank me.
Perfect Peach Tartlettes
- Food Processor
- Heavy Bottom Pot
- Tartlette Pans
- Fine Mesh Strainers
- Plastic Wrap
- Pie weights or dried beans
- Pastry Brush
- 1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour 8 oz
- 1 tps Salt
- 1 1/4 sticks butter 5 oz
- 2 TBS Shortening 1 oz
- 1/3 cup Water Or Cheap Vodka
- 2 cups Milk
- 5 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 2 tbsp Corn Startch Optional
- 2 tsp Vanilla Paste
To Make the Pie Crust
- In the bowl of the food processor, combine flour, salt, butter, shortening. Process to combine. Slowly drizzle in Water (or vodka) and process until a ball forms. Shape into a disk and wrap ball in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375
- Divide disk in half. Chill the second half. Divide the first half into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out a thin disk about 1/4 inch thick, and place into tartlette pans. Repeat with second half.
- Put parchment paper in the tarts and fill the tarts with baking beads. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove baking beads and bake for another 10 minutes. NOTE: If you are using Ceramic Pie Weights, bake for a total of 20 minutes.
To Make Creme Pat
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan, steam milk until just before boiling
- Whisk eggs and sugar and optional corn starch.
- Ladle 1/2 cup steaming milk into eggs and whisk to combine completely. Add 1/2 cup of steaming milk and repeat.
- Whisk egg mixture into the steaming milk mixture and mix to thicken. Whisk in vanilla.
- When thick, strain egg-milk mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any bits of scrambled eggs. Chill until ready to use
- When pie shell cools, pour in creme pat into the tart crusts.
- Slice peaches and arrange them onto each pie tarts.
- In a pot, melt apricot jam with syrup from the canned peaches. Using a pastry brush, brush apricot mixture over peaches.
- Chill until ready to eat.
This post contains affiliated links. In the event you buy the item linked, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
For more desserts recipes and French Chef Friday Recipes, please check out my recipes here.