My family and I have lived in our house for nearly 19 months now, but we’ve never actually lived here in Spring. We moved into this house in December 2005, but 8 months later, in August 2006 we found ourselves moving back to the US to spend a few years near my parents in Indiana. That means that we spent a Summer, Autumn and Winter in this house through the first half of 2006, but when we left in August, we left behind Winter and Spring and came straight into full-on Summer in Indiana. When we moved back into this house in November 2009, we came back to Summer. Is this confusing you yet!? Well, anyway, we’re in Spring in Australia right now, which means we finally get to see all the Spring flowers and fruits that are planted in our yard.
One of the most pleasant plants growing in our yard is the jasmine-covered archway separating the back veranda from the yard. Of course, the jasmine flowers are all brown and falling off now, but when it was in bloom it was gorgeous and the flowers filled the air with the scent of jasmine which would occasionally waft inside if we had the windows open. We didn’t even realize that the archway was covered in jasmine because we haven’t been here in the Spring before. We just thought it was some sort of vine!
Another pleasant surprise came from a big tree at the very back of our property, near where we’re starting to grow a herb garden. This tree suddenly started producing fat red berries which we soon discovered were mulberries.
I’ve been out picking the mulberries off a couple of times so far this week. It feels great to bring in a big bowl full of these little gems.
So now we have plenty of mulberries and besides just eating them plain (as my husband and daughter do), I have to think about how to incorporate them into baking! I wasn’t sure what to do as I had never eaten a mulberry before. I had a few suggestions from friends – a mulberry pie, or mulberry jam, or mulberry ice cream, or mulberry sorbet, but I was thinking about tarts.
Eventually I decided upon a mulberry and white chocolate cream tart. It would start with a shortcrust pastry, which would be filled with a vanilla bean white chocolate pastry cream. On top I would sit fresh mulberries and then drizzle the whole thing with white chocolate. And, in a few hours, this is what I had sitting in front of me…
It’s quite nice, and I love this pastry cream. It was my first time making pastry cream, and while the process seems a bit daunting, it was actually relatively quick and easy. If you don’t have mulberries, I’m sure this would taste just as nice, or even better, with fresh raspberries, blackberries or blueberries.
Doesn’t it look great?
There are still heaps of mulberries left on the tree, and I think my next creation with them will be mulberry jam.
- For the pastry:
- 240g plain flour
- 160g butter
- Pinch of salt
- For the pastry cream:
- 1¼ cups (300 ml) milk
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 50 grams white chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
- ⅛ cup (20 grams) all-purpose flour
- Scant 3 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
- ½ cup (115 ml) heavy cream, softly whipped
- For the pastry: Place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 teaspoons cold water and blend again until the dough just comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured board or clean bench and form dough into a disc, enclose in cling film and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
- Roll pastry out to 3-5mm thick, then use to line a 9-inch loose-bottomed tart tin (you’ll probably have to trim the edges). Prick the base with a fork, then place back in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry case with baking paper and pastry beads or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 15 minutes minutes, then remove baking paper and beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes until just golden. Press down any bubbles that have risen up and allow to cool.
- For the pastry cream:
- In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat, add white chocolate and whisk until melted. Add milk mixture slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture.
- Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.
- Remove from heat. Pour through a strainer into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. Just before using in the tart shell, fold in the whipped cream with a wooden spoon. Pour into tart shell and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.
- Assembly: Just before serving, arrange mulberries (or fresh berries of your choice) on top of cream, which should now be relatively firm. Melt 4 or 5 squares of white chocolate and drizzle it on top of the tart. Serve chilled.