Saturday was a day of passage and celebration in our home. It was Bob's 70th birthday. Now you don't serve just anything for an event that marks seven decades. There has to be a little pomp, a little circumstance, a meal with an air of celebration about it. We put our heads together, he and I, and came up with a feast. Bob picked the desserts. Over the next week or so I'll post them all, but I thought it would be nice to start with his first choice and the one that is still his favorite. It's an old-fashioned strawberry tart. Luscious berries are artfully, or semi-artfully, arranged in a buttery almond crust and then glazed. No custard. No whipped cream. Just naked berries clad in crimson. It's beautiful to look it and simple to do. A caution or two for those who plan to make this. It's a seasonal dessert. Make sure the berries you use are fully ripe and flavorful. It's also important to glaze the berries about two hours before you plan to serve the dessert. After a couple of hours the glaze will begin to water out and your gorgeous tart will begin to look like the portrait of Dorian Gray. I love this dessert for its simplicity and old-fashioned goodness.
Strawberry Glacé Tart
Sweet Pastry Dough:
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 large egg yold
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/2 tablespoons ice cold water + additional water as needed
8 cups strawberries, washed and stemmed
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 to 3 drops red food coloring (optional)
1) Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat egg, almond extract and water together in a small bowl. Pour into flour and pulse. Remove from bowl. Add additional water as required to make a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2) Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On lightly floured surface roll dough into a 10-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides. Prick bottom and sides of crust. Line with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
3) Place 1 cup strawberries in a blender jar or bowl of a food processor. Add 2/3 cup water. Blend or process until smooth. Pour into a two cup measure. Add additional water as required to make 1-1/2 cups of mixture. Place sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in berry mixture. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Add food coloring, if using. Let sit for 10 minutes without stirring.
4) Spread 1/4 cup of glaze over bottom of tart shell. Arrange remainder of berries, stem side down, in pastry shell. Spoon remaining glaze over berries, making sure each berry is covered with glaze. Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Yield: 8 servings.