Last Friday morning, news hit the wire that strawberries and rhubarb had been spotted at the Union Square Greenmarket. New Yorkers swooped in and scooped up those sweet signs of Spring with the kind of fan fervor usually reserved for pop musicians and I think they were all gone by noon. I have to admit, I didn't drop everything to get to the market that day, but I cheered from the sidelines and hearing about it sure got my wheels turning about all of the good things to come.
I have a bit of a ritual when it comes to enjoying my first local berries. I will eat the first of them fresh and unadorned, probably before I even get home. Then, I'll slice them up for a simple tart like this one, maybe with vanilla bean pastry cream in lieu of the lime, and slowly I'll start baking them into scones and churning them into ice cream. When they are at their peak I am going to convince someone to drive upstate with me to pick strawberries for my favorite jam. Who wants to come with?
Creamy Lime Tart with Strawberries
I have to admit, I made this tart a couple of weeks ago and the strawberries I used for were from California, patience is not one of my virtues. In my defense, they were organic and still pretty flavorful after their trip across the country. The addition of a light coating of apricot jam made them all the better.
For the Crust
1 cup almond meal
1 cup spelt flour
5 Tablespoon melted butter
4 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325º
1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Press the crust into a 9'' or 10'' removable bottom tart pan, making sure it goes all of the way up the sides of the pan.
2. Slide into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15min. While the crust is baking, prepare the lime filling
For the Lime Filling
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
4 egg yolks
4 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from 3-4 limes)1, 14 oz can evaporated milk
1. Whisk zest and egg yolks together until the yolks are light in color and the zest has tinted the mixture light green, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the juice and evaporated milk and set aside to thicken while the crust bakes and cools, about 20 min.
2. Pour the thickened mixture into the baked and cooled tart shell, slide back into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the filling is set, but still wiggly in the center. Note: If you use a 10'' tart pan the lime cream won't fill the shell all of the way, no big deal, you'll just have more room for the strawberries.
3. Remove from the oven and let the tart cool to room temperature then place it in the fridge for a few hours to chill completely before finishing with the strawberries.
To Finish the Tart
1 pint of the sweetest strawberries you can find, sliced in 1/8'' slices (these don't have to be perfect)
4T of apricot or any other light colored fruit preserves, warmed and blended until smooth. This will become a glaze for the top of the tart. I used the last of my Apricot Jam with Saffron and Rose and it was superb.
1c heavy cream whipped to soft peaks to serve (optional)
When the tart has chilled completely, layer the sliced strawberries on top of the tart in a decorative pattern, I like concentric circles. Then gently brush the top of the strawberries with the warmed jam.
Store in the fridge until you are ready to serve, then slice it up and top it with a snowy white dollop of whipped cream.