B-b-b-baking: Summertime Strawberries

I know I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I actually have a few incomplete entries that I'm working on...I'll have them up as soon as I can!

For now, to start off my summer baking spree, I've decided to go with something simple. I have a monthly meeting to go to tomorrow, and I always bake something for them, because well, it gives me an excuse to bake! My parents have a habit of buying large boxes of fruit in the summer because they're in season. But...they tend to go to waste unless I eat most of them, but then I feel bad for eating so many. Today, I noticed a lovely box of strawberries. Strawberries are great by themselves, on top of things, inside things, and infused in things... I love strawberries.

Things I have learned today about custard tarts:
- They are ridiculously simple to make.
- Like food in general, they taste best when eaten fresh, so preparing components ahead of time is a good idea. That way, assembly can be done in a snap :)
- I am still not clear on the distinction between pudding and custard. I always thought that pudding was the stuff that you can buy in Jello cups, but then the Japanese call creme caramel a "custard pudding", and then you have phenomena like Yorkshire pudding and bread pudding. Seriously, what the heck?
- Custard can be made using any kind of milk - heavy cream, whole milk, milk, soy milk, almond milk...yay for dairy-free custards! It is so unfortunate that full fat dairy products always taste better.
- Custard tarts work for any kind of fruit! Any kind of berry would be my go-to for summery baked goods ;)
- Even better with whipped cream...probably?

Inspired by a new favourite food blog of mine, "Hungry at Midnight" (that is so me), strawberry custard tarts seemed like a good direction to go in. I used some of my leftover puff pastry in the freezer instead of her crust recipe, so it turned out a bit differently, but in my opinion quite nicely. There was a little bit of salt in the crust, a hint of sweetness in the custard, and tartness in the strawberries, so everything was well-complimented!

I really liked the colour contrast of the red in the strawberries and the pale blue in the cupcake liners. I had to use pink ones for the remaining 6 because I ran out, but oh well.
Each tart was "uniquely shaped" because I did them all by hand and I'm an amateur. I think they looked presentable enough though...
Strawberry Custard Tarts (adapted from Hungry at Midnight)
*Makes 18 tarts*

4-5 fresh strawberries
Frozen puff pastry/a recipe of puff pastry (enough to make a standard sized pie top and bottom crust)
1 tsp pure honey

1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cornstarch
A pinch of salt

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Line 1 1/2 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Roll and divide your pie dough to make 18 tart shells and place them in the cupcake liners. (I found that by using my circle cookie cutter to cut 2 circles and overlapping them made a good sized tart shell to fit into the cupcake liners.)
3. Bake the tart shells in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once finished baking, remove the muffin tin from the oven and set aside to cool.
4. While the tart shells are baking, assemble your custard. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, cornstarch, salt, and half of the milk into a medium sized bowl. Whisk until smooth.
5. Over medium heat, add the rest of the milk into a medium saucepan, and scald the milk (heat to just under boiling). Remove from heat, and whisk into the rest of the custard mixture.
6. Return the entire mixture into the saucepan over medium heat, and stir once in a while until the mixture has thickened. (I would suggest using a wooden spoon rather than a whisk at this point or you might get lumps in your custard.) Remove from heat and set aside.
7. Wash and core the strawberries, and divide them into quarters.
8. Once relatively cool, spoon some custard into each of the tart shells, and top each of them with a slice of strawberry.
9. Brush the surfaces of the strawberries with a little dab of honey. (This is in case the strawberries are a bit tart, and so that the sweetness isn't too overpowering.)
10. Enjoy! (And eat the extra pieces of strawberry.)

I actually made these for a board meeting I was attending the next day. These tarts are really simple and easy to make, but they look nice! Great for those days when you want to seem impressive, but really, you're just lazy :D


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