There’s something magical about the taste of fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. This timeless combination has the ability to evoke memories of backyard parties, summer breezes, and bare feet on freshly-mowed grass. Although this perennial favorite is a classic through-and-through, you likely haven’t had it quite like this before. Tessa Huff, the baking maven behind Style Sweet CA, is serving up her own take on the treat, using basil-infused whipped cream and strawberries to create tartlets that are perfect for any warm-weathered soiree.
Strawberry Tartlets with Basil Cream
Makes about 6 to 8 tartlets
In the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds. Mix on medium until light and fluffy.
Add in the egg yolks and mix until combined.
With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt. Mix just until the dough starts to come together. When pinched, it should stay together.
Divide the dough in half and bring together to form two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
Once chilled, allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes. It should be cool to the touch by pliable. Using a tiny bit of flour or between two pieces of parchment paper, roll the dough out to about ¼ to ⅛ inch thick.
Using the base of the tartlets pans as a guide, cut out circles of dough, about two-inches in diameter larger than the bases. Gently left and press the dough circles into the tartlets pans, one at a time. Press the dough into the sides and trim by running a paring knife around the top edge of the pan. Fill in any gaps or cracks by pressing in bits of dough.
Gently gather the dough scraps, re-roll, and repeat.
Dock the dough in the tart pans by pricking with a fork a few times. Refrigerate the dough in the pans for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Once chilled, place all of the tartlet pans on one baking sheet. Line them with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet. Carefully remove the foil and weights from each pan. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Let cool before removing the shells from their pans.
Place the butter in a heat-safe container and set aside.
Place the milk, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium until it just begins to simmer.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs. Add in the flour and cornstarch and mix until combined. Just as the milk comes to a simmer, whisk in the sugar.
Once hot, remove the milk from the heat and discard the vanilla bean pod. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the milk into the egg mixture. Continue pouring in a bit of milk at a time in order to gradually raise the temper of the eggs. Add the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan over medium-low heat.
Stir continuously until the pastry cream thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain using a mesh sieve over the butter. Stir in the butter until combined.
Press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the top surface of the pastry cream and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until thickened.
Basil Whipped Cream
Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Remove from the heat and add in the fresh basil. Let cool for 30 minutes, then transfer the cream and the basil to a covered container. Refrigerate and let steep until cream has chilled (about an hour or so).
Once the basil has infused into the cream, remove from the refrigerator. Strain the cream and discard the basil.
Begin whisking with an electric mixer on medium-high. Add in the vanilla and sugar and whisk until medium-soft peaks.
Spread a generous spoonful (about ¼ cup) of pastry cream into each tartlet shell. Top with fresh strawberries and a dollop of basil whipped cream. Sprinkle with a bit of chopped fresh basil, if desired.
NOTE: Pastry cream may be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to three days in advance.
Tessa Huff is a Vancouver-based recipe developer, photographer, and creator of Style Sweet CA—a cake and pastry blog for the home baker. Her first book, “Layered: Baking, Building, and Styling Spectacular Cakes” hits shelves on April 19th. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.