A classic fresh strawberry and custard dessert layered over a chocolate coated, crisp, melt in your mouth shortbread tart crust.  Such an easy treat to eat!

Oh the flavours and textures of the Strawberry Custard Tart!

Strawberry Custard Tart

I made it in an 11½” (29cm) tart, or flan pan so it gives a large surface to spread out the strawberries.  It also holds a lot of custard.  You could use a 12” (30cm) flan pan.  You could use a deep 9” pie pan that will hold the volume, but will give you less strawberry surface area on the custard tart.  If you use a smaller flan pan, you will have excess custard.

Strawberry Custard Tart in flan pan
Strawberry Custard Tart in 11½” (29cm) tart, or flan pan

Special Equipment

A food Processor, but not necessary

An 11½”-12” (29-30cm) Flan or tart pan

The Steps

Allowing at least a day is a good idea to prevent rushing and there issome setting in the refrigerator involved.

Strawberries

The Strawberries I believe should be organic, for your health and to promote that kind of growing, but I know that most often the best local strawberries do not come that way. If anything is going to make an impact in a fruit dessert, it will be the fruit. Use the most beautiful and fragrant ones you can.

Do not prepare these too far ahead of assembly. Wash the strawberries well.  Do not let them soak too long, especially if you use produce cleaner, strawberries are porous.  Remove excess water by patting them between kitchen towels or giving them a light squeeze in a paper towel.

Slice in half from stem to tip. Keep a few perfect ones for garnish, and keep the green hull on for show, if you would like to.

Fresh Whole Strawberries
Strawberries

The Crust

Shortbread Crust Ingredients
Strawberry Tart Crust Ingredients

The Crust can be frozen a week ahead of baking it.  The crust can also be baked a day or two ahead.

This is a shortbread crust that uses cold unsalted butter and a food processor to make.  Process the ingredients and stop just before it starts to clump together.  You could also use a pastry cutter.

Cutting butter into dry ingredients for crust
Strawberry custard tart crust mix

Press it very well, into the bottom and up the sides of the flan pan.  Bring the crust all the way up to the rim of the pan because there may be shrinking.

Freeze the crust for at least half an hour to reduce the shrinking I don’t bother using pie weights here.

press the crust into the pan
finished tart crust

Immediately bake from frozen at 450°F (230°C). The oven temperature is later reduced to 325°F (165°C).  It is a thin crust and browns quickly near the end of the baking time so keep a close eye on it.

The Chocolate Layer

Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes, just to let some steam escape.  Then scatter the semi sweet chocolate chips over the hot crust and leave them for about 10 minutes to let them melt.  Spread them out on the bottom and a little up the sides with what you have.  This delicious step adds another flavour and texture element while keeping the crust from getting soft from the custard.  Is there anything chocolate can’t do?

Let chocolate chips melt
Spread melted chocolate in tart crust

The Custard Filling

Custard ingredients
Ingredients for the custard filling

The Custard Filling can be made up to two days ahead of filling the baked crust. This crust can be filled with the custard the day before and covered.

This is a Pastry Cream that is made from egg yolks and whole eggs. Cornstarch is added for stability and to prevent curdling or separating, so don’t worry about double boilers.

In a medium saucepan off the heat, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch together. Put onto the heat and stir in hot milk.  I just microwave the milk for a minute or so. You could start with cold milk, you will just have to cook it longer so it heats up.

Custard for Strawberry Tart
Adding milk to custard

 It will be foamy at the beginning, then start to thicken, then there will be no more foam. After about 8 minutes it should just come to a boil.  Let it boil this while stirring, not much more than 20 seconds.  The boiling is necessary because of an enzyme called alpha-amylase found in the yolks that break down the starches. If the starches in the cornstarch break down, the custard becomes runny.  The boiling destroys the enzymes.  Do not boil for very long.

This boiling step is only for custard that uses starches to thicken. -Custard thickened with just eggs should not come to a boil.

Foam on the custard as it begins to cook
Foam as the Custard starts to cook
As the Custard thickens and cooks there is less foam
As the Custard thickens and cooks there is no more foam

Remove from the heat and add the 2 Tbsp cold butter. Stir in until it is incorporated.  I add it cold and in smaller pieces so I’m not chasing a lump of butter around.  It also seems to mix in better.

Stir in the vanilla.

Transfer to a large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard.  

Refrigerate until cold.

Stir the butter into the custard
Stir the butter into the custard
Stir the vanilla into the custard
Add vanilla to the custard and stir in

Gelatin is added because this is made in a large tart pan.  A smaller individual tart could get away without the added stability.

Sprinkle the gelatin over 4 Tbsps cold water in a wide bowl that will give more surface area for the gelatin to have space to soften.

It will swell and should turn transparent.

Once it has all softened, microwave for 15 seconds and another 10 if needed to be clear when dissolved.

Let cool to room temperature.

Pour this into the crust over the layer of chocolate.

This will have to set in the refrigerator.

Sprinkle gelatin over water
softening gelatin
Softening gelatin for custard
heated gelatin is clear
Heated dissolved gelatin is clear

A little bit of whipped cream is added to lighten the custard and give it a richness that is not heavy.

Whip the cream just to soft peaks and add a couple of tablespoons to the gelatin and stir in quickly.  Like tempering eggs.

Pour this mixture into the cream while beating.

If you pour the gelatin directly, you will get stringy bits of gelatin like cooked egg whites through your cream.

Continue beating until you get medium peaks.

Whiooed cream to lighten the custard
Whipped cream to lighten the custard
Stir whipped cream into gelatin
Whisk a big scoop of the whipped cream into the gelatin
Mix in the cream until smooth
Mix in the cream until smooth
Pour the gelatin mixture into the cream
Mix the gelatin/cream mixture back into the whipped cream

The custard that has been setting in the refrigerator should be firm enough to have taken the shape of the bowl it is in, Blend it so it is smooth and then add a good scoop of the whipped cream mixture into it.  Stir it right in to loosen it up, then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.

Pour the custard into the crust.

Place plastic wrap directly on top so it does not form a pudding skin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Custard that has set in the refrigerator
Custard that has set in the refrigerator
Fold the cream into the custard
Stir in a scoop of cream to start, then fold in the rest
Custard spread into chocolate covered crust
Spread the custard into the chocolate covered crust

The Glaze

Fruit glaze ingredients
Ingredients for glaze

Thickeners for Glaze

Cornstarch is the most popular thickener for glaze.  Some glazes use corn syrup (corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup).  You can tell when cornstarch is finished cooking because it will be clear but still slightly cloudy, which is fine.  Taste and texture is important as well. If you put a thinner layer, it will be clearer. You could use potato starch, or tapioca starch which I have also used. Tapioca starch needs to soften in water before cooking. It finishes much clearer than the cornstarch but will give you a slightly sticky glaze.

Glaze For Strawberry Tart using cornstarch
Glaze For Strawberry Tart using cornstarch
Glaze For Strawberry Tart using tapioca starch
Glaze For Strawberry Tart using tapioca starch

Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Hull the strawberries and cut in half.  Keep some nice ones with the tops on for garnish if you would like. 

If I am going to make a circle pattern around, I separate the halves so I can start on the inside with the smaller halves and work my way out.

I mark 8 lines in the custard with a knife so I can place the strawberry halves to make it easier to cut wedges later.

You can make whatever mosaic you would like, but it does make slicing neater.  You don’t have to cut it in 8 of course.

marking the pie
marking the pie
small strawberries on the inside
Start with small strawberries on the inside
add strawberries around
Keep adding strawberries around

Spoon the glaze sparingly over the strawberries.  If you have a pastry brush, use that to help spread it around.

You could also chop the strawberries smaller and combine them with the glaze and spoon over the pie.

Serve with whipped cream if you would like. Keep refrigerated.

Strawberry custard tart with cornstarch glaze
Strawberry custard tart using cornstarch
Strawberry custard tart with tapioca starch glaze
Strawberry custard tart using tapioca starch

The Glaze is made to finish the tart.  It will spread easier and thinner if it is warm.

The glaze is also to prevent the strawberries and the custard from drying.  I like that part of the pie if it is a good glaze.  I prefer the cornstarch recipe for texture and for cutting.  If you have tapioca starch it works great and finishes clear, just let it soak for 15-30 minutes before cooking.  It will be less cloudy, but tapioca is a bit gluey. You could also just brush some sieved apricot jam or other nappage, a glaze thickened with fruit’s natural pectin and thinned with water.  It will give a bit of a different sweetness though.

picture for Strawberry Custard Tart recipe

Strawberry Custard Tart

Fresh strawberries and custard in a chocolate covered melt in your mouth tart crust.
Prep Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
4-6 hours chilling time 4 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, French
Servings 1 12″ (30cm) tart

Equipment

  • 11½”-12” (29-30cm) Flan or tart pan with removable bottom

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb strawberries (454g)

Crust

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
  • cup powdered icing sugar (35g)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut in 12-16 pieces (114g)
  • ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips (90g)

Custard Filling

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • cup granulated sugar (135g)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (36g)
  • 2 cups 2% milk (500mL)
  • 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut in about 4 pieces
  • tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cold whipping cream (125mL)
  • 2 tsp powdered gelatin

Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (cornflour), or 1½ Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 6 Tbsp granulated sugar (80g)
  • ¾ cups watee (190mL)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Shortbread Crust

  • Put the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse, just to combine.
  • Add the butter and pulse until fine, but not clumping. If you do not have a food processor, just combine the flour, icing sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until fine.
  • Press into a 12” Flan pan with a removable bottom. A large deep pie pan will also work.
  • Freeze it for at least an hour.
  • Bake at 450°F (230°C) for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325°F (165°C) and bake for 10 minutes more or until golden brown.
  • Let this cool just for about 5 minutes to release some steam, then sprinkle it with chocolate chips. Let them melt, for about 10 minutes then carefully spread them on the bottom and a little up the sides if you can.

Custard Filling

  • Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove just until it boils. If you start cold, it just takes longer to cook and thicken the custard. You can start with cold milk, most people do, it will just take a bit longer.
  • In a medium saucepan, but not yet on the heat, combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  • Whisk in the hot milk and cook over medium/medium high heat until thick. About 7 minutes. It will be foamy at the beginning, then start to thicken, then there will be no more foam. 
  • You will see wisps of steam.  Let it come to a boil for about a half minute, then lower the heat.
  • Remove from the heat and add the 2 Tbsp cold butter and stir in until it is incorporated.  I add it cold and in smaller pieces so I’m not chasing a lump of butter around.  It also seems to mix in better.
  • Stir in the vanilla.
  • Transfer to a large bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard.  Refrigerate until cold.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over 4 Tbsps cold water in a wide bowl that will give more surface area for the gelatin to have space to soften. It will swell and should turn transparent.
  • Once it has all softened, microwave for 15 seconds and another 10 if needed to be clear when dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Whip the cream just to soft peaks and add a couple of tablespoons to the gelatin and stir in quickly.  Like tempering eggs.
  • Pour this mixture into the cream while beating. If you pour the gelatin directly, you will get stringy bits of gelatin like cooked egg whites through your cream. Continue beating until you get medium peaks.
  • Fold a good scoop into the cold custard. Stir it right in to loosen it up, then fold in the rest of the cream.
  • Pour it into the crust. Place plastic wrap directly on top and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Glaze

  • In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar.
  • Stir in the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until thick and clear.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Let cool while you prepare the strawberries.

Assembly

  • Wash the strawberries and pat dry. Hull the strawberries and cut in half.  Keep some nice ones with the tops on for garnish if you would like.
  • I mark 8 lines in the custard with a knife so I can place the strawberry halves to make it easier to cut wedges later. You can make whatever mosaic you would like, but it does make slicing neater. You don’t have to cut it in 8 of course.
  • Spoon the glaze sparingly over the strawberries. If you have a pastry brush, use that to help spread it around. You could also chop the strawberries smaller and combine them with the glaze and spoon over the pie.
  • Keep refrigerated until it is time to serve. Serve with whipped cream if you would like.

Notes

If you use a smaller pan, you will have a thicker crust that may require longer baking time.  You will also have a thicker chocolate layer and excess custard.  I would suggest making two smaller tarts, 7″-8″ (18-20cm).
Stir the gelatin mixture that has a bit of whipped cream quickly into the rest of the cream. It may have a few lumps regardless, but it shouldn’t be noticeable when all is finished.
I find it best to mark the pie and place the strawberries to cut around, so I don’t have to slice through the berries when serving.
 
Keyword custard tarts, strawberry custard tarts, strawberry desserts, strawberry tarts