Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blueberry Custard Tartlets

I have officially met Mark's entire family now; it only took 4 years!  The truth is, I met the Armenian side early on (and adore them all) but apparently the Albanian side doesn't get together all that often, so I didn't meet them until a couple weeks ago.  Mark's parents held a party for me and Kaz to meet Evelyn's cousins and their families, and it was a blast.  They were all easy to talk to and told me great stories of baby Mark (such as his severe childhood anemia and his failure to walk at 18 months... okay now I'm nervous).  Anyway, I agonized over what to bring to the party.  I almost brought my spinach pies, but then I remembered that spinach pies are an Albanian food; I didn't want to attempt to beat them at their own game, so I settled on a dessert.  My sisters had picked a billion blueberries the week before, so blueberry custard tartlets seemed the perfect recipe for a hot summer party.

They were a bit time consuming, since you have to make the custard, the tartlet dough, and the blueberry sauce, but the main issue was the dough (the other 2 parts were easy enough).  It was really dry (there's no liquid in the recipe!!!!  Butter, sugar and flour only!) , dry enough that I added milk, and it was still hard to work with.  I had to really work hard to get the dough into the mini muffin cups, and even then they came out looking nothing like the picture.  I felt better reading some of the blogger's comments - I was not the only person to have these problems.  The cups themselves were dry and crumbly and quite difficult to get out of the pan.

Note the phyllo cups in the background, crumbly shortbread cups in the foreground!
I started panicking - even after I made them up and Kenzie said they were amazing.  I decided to use some of the leftover phyllo dough from the spanakopita to make phyllo cups, and use them in addition to the tartlet cups.  It was time consuming to butter, stack, and slice all over again (I thought I was done with phyllo!) but the cups came out of the oven just fine (just a sprinkling of sugar, bake at 425 for 10 minutes in a muffin cup).  I filled them and the tartlets that survived the transfer from pan to serving dish with the custard, topped them with blueberry sauce, and off I went.

My tartlets got lots of compliments; I do think the phyllo cups may have gotten a little soggy as the day wore on, so maybe they weren't the greatest idea, but if you were going to eat them right away, go for it.  The cups, while they made me nervous, seemed to go over the best (go figure).  I think that maybe a sugar cookie crust would be the best idea: they'd be solid and hearty enough to hold the fillings without going soggy or being too difficult to work with.  Just make sure to poke holes in the bottoms with a fork before you bake!


blueberry custard tartlets
from Yammie's Noshery
yield about 2 dozen

1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

shortbread crust:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice


1) Bring the milk for the custard to a simmer.  Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, eggs, yolks and corn starch together until smooth.  When the milk is simmering, whisk half of it into the egg mixture.  Then add the egg/milk mixture to the rest of the milk; don't just dump the egg mixture into the simmering milk or you'll have scrambled eggs).  Bring it back to the heat and cook, whisking constantly until very thick.  Whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate; make sure the plastic wrap is touching the top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.

2) To make the shortbread, cream the butter and sugar and then add the flour, mixing until just combined.  Press into mini muffin tins.  You'll want them to be pretty thin so you can fit the fillings.  Poke to bottom of each one with a fork to prevent air bubbles.  Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown on the edges.

3) For the blueberries, whisk all of the ingredients together and cook over medium-high heat until thickened.

4) To assemble, fill cooled crusts with custard and top with cooled berries.
Check out that dessert table! (and my tartlets on the left!)

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