Growing up in the South I never lacked for good food and I spent my childhood being surrounded by talented cooks and bakers. My grandmothers (all of them) were talented in the kitchen--one did private catering, another owned a restaurant and the third just made delicious things. Visits to southern Georgia always included a stop at my Grandma Sarah's home, where surrounded by sweets (and encouraged by a wink and nudge from my grandmother) I would sneak into her cozy kitchen where the old refrigerator sat buzzing contentedly in the corner and sample little vintage candies from the glass jars lined up in her pantry or slip a slice of her famous caramel cake from under its glass-domed pedestal stand. But, while my Grandmother Sarah made plenty of caramel cakes, chess pies and pecan strewn red velvet cakes (my favorite) she never made me a tarte aux framboises---and why would she? We were, after all, Southern and framboises wasn't exactly on the menu... that is until I moved to Quebec.
Montreal is known for its gastronomy and trust me, its patisseries (French for pastry shop) don't disappoint. They are authentic, diverse (from rustic-French to Asian-fusion) and plentiful in most parts of Montreal. Walk into any reputable patisserie, boulangerie or gourmet epicerie and you will find nestled next to golden croissants and crusty baguettes, that delicate ruby jewel: the tarte aux frambroise. To me, it's the ultimate indulgence, both refined and rustic with its beautifully arranged raspberries, its crumbly butter crust and its delicate (and hopefully liberal) dusting of powdered sugar.
While being a Southerner in Quebec has it's own difficulties--like where to find a store who sells authentic grits (or even just someone who knows the word and that that you can't singularize the dish into a 'grit') or how to keep your poor, frost-bitten, Southern tush warm while enduring arctic temperatures, and of course adjusting to learning a new language--albeit a beautiful one--it has also had its amazing food moments and this is definitely one of them. It may not hold a candle to Grandma Sarah's Red Velvet cake, but it certainly holds 'une petite chandelle dans ma coeur' for fond Quebec memories.
Here at Autumn Wood Stylist HQ we are currently hunkering down with a big mug of coffee, a good book (Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson) and our favorite cat slippers---did we just say that aloud? We did... but you won't judge will you?
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Here is a great recipe that has been adapted from one of my favorite food blogs, Flourishing Foodie:
See below for full details:
RASPBERRY TARTS WITH ALMOND CRUST AND CREME PATISSIERE RECIPE
makes 4 small tarts
notes: pastry cream should be served immediately out of the fridge, or can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
TART CRUST INGREDIENTS
2 cups almond flour
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg white
CREME PATISSIERE INGREDIENTS
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup milk, 2% or whole
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
- small pint of raspberries, washed and dried
- icing sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Align four 5-inch tart pans on the counter.
In a food processor, add the almond flour, sugar, salt, butter, and egg white. Pulse until all ingredients are combined and start to stick together, resembling coarse meal.
Divide the mixture into 4 equal parts. Scoop the mixture into the tart shells, pressing down with your hands, and forming up the sides of the shell. You want to create an even layer around the sides, and then press flat on the bottom of the shell. Place the shells into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Place the tart shell directly onto the middle oven rack and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the crust has turned light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing from the shells.
Split the vanilla bean in half and remove the seeds. Add the seeds, along with the vanilla pod to the milk in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a simmer on low to medium heat stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. This will allow the vanilla to infuse the milk.
In a medium bowl add the egg yolks, flour, and sugar. Vigorously stir with a wire whisk until ingredients have become combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, and whisk until combined.
Add the mixture to a saucepan on medium heat. With a wire whisk, stir constantly until the mixture has thickened and started to boil. Remove from heat and strain with a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap by placing it directly on top of the creme's surface. This will prevent a skin from forming on the tops. Refrigerate immediately.
Chill in the refrigerator until cool, one hour or more. Once chilled, remove and whisk in the heavy cream just before serving.
Remove the almond crust from their shells. Fill each tart 3/4 full with the creme. Gently place the raspberries on top with the stem side facing down. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.