Vanilla Pastry Cream Tart with Berries


Guess who’s back, back again, Terri’s back, tell your friends! Ok, first I want to say I hate how long it’s been since I’ve blogged. What’s worse is that I promised I would blog more often, but the truth is I just haven’t been able to. I’ve kind of been in this fog since my mom’s diagnosis and it seemed to stop me from doing things even though I’ve wanted to. Long story short, I need to make myself jump out of the fog and back into life. My mom wouldn’t want me to be stuck in place. So I have decided to get back to my blog, and back to myself. What better way to do that than writing a blog that starts with a poorly done attempt at humour, using song lyrics (that seems to be my thing lol).


Alright let’s rip the bandage off and get started on this post before I change my mind. This dessert is a classic, and really to me perfect after any meal. It’s light, creamy, not too sweet, and never lasts more than a day in my house. It seems labour intensive but you can make many of the components ahead, and honestly it is perfect after a heavy holiday meal.

Pastry cream is first. I start by getting all the ingredients I need set out. I usually have pastry cream in my fridge as it keeps for about a week, so feel free to make this and refrigerate a few days in advance of when you make the dessert.

Start by measuring out all your ingredients, that way everything is ready to as you need to add it into the pastry cream. This just makes life easier, and you can pretend you are on a cooking show that way its fun.


Place the egg yolks, whole egg, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk together until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.


In a medium saucepan add the milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, and salt then whisk to combine. Place over medium heat until the milk just comes to a boil.


Once the milk mixture has been heated we are going to add it to the egg mixture, slowly allowing the eggs to temper. I slowly pour a thin stream while constantly whisking to prevent the eggs from cooking. (thank you to my daughter for snapping this pic for me, please excuse my nudist three year old)


Once about half of the heated milk has been incorporated into the egg mixture stop adding it. At this point you are going to take the egg mixture with added milk, and pour it into the saucepan with the remaining heated milk.


Place you saucepan back on the burner over medium heat, using a spatula to stir and prevent scorching, heat the mixture until it starts to thicken.


Once the mixture has thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat. Add in the butter, vanilla, and mix until completely incorporated.


Once you have a nice smooth vanilla pastry cream place it in a glass dish and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure to press the plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream to prevent a skin form forming.

Note: If you do have lumps form the egg cooking a bit, no worries just push the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to strain them out


Next up for this tart is the pâte sucrée. I use to love my recipe but then I bought the Duchess Bake Shop cookbook and honestly it was so much better. Mine was good, but theirs is absolutely amazing. If you are in Edmonton you need to go there, if you aren’t you should order their book.

Alright start by sifting the flour, icing sugar, and almond flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the salt and give a few quick mixes to combine the ingredients, than add the cold cubes of butter. Mix again until the mixture looks sandy. Add the egg and vanilla, then mix until just combined. It is ok if it hasn’t come all the way together because you don’t want to over mix.


Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a disc shape than wrap in plastic wrap. Here is the good news you will have enough dough to make two tarts, if you only want to make one freeze the other half of the dough for up to 2 months. Once you have the two discs of dough, each wrapped separately, place them in the fridge to chill for at last 4 hours.


Once the dough has properly chilled its time to roll out and prep the tart shell for baking. On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness.


For this tart I start by taking the insert out to use as a guide to cut out my shape. Once you have the right sized piece of dough place it on parchment and refrigerate about 30 minutes.


While the dough is chilling I like to prep the tart pan, and preheat the oven to 375. To prep the tart pan it just needs to be greased with a thin layer of butter, or cooking spray. If you are using butter make sure not to leave any large chunks.


Once the dough has been chilled, and our tart pan has been prepared, carefully place the piece of pastry inside. I start by working in one side than the other to prevent ripping. Once you’ve put the pastry in press along the sides to make sure it sits into the grooves and there are no air bubbles. Using a fork poke holes all over the bottom of the tart then place into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or golden brown.


Once you shelled has baked to golden brown let it cool on a wired rack. Once it has cooled enough to touch, remove your tart shell from the mold and place back on the wired rack to cool completely.


Once it has fully cooled,  fill your tart with half the pastry cream that was made above. That is right this recipe makes enough dough, and pastry cream for two tarts! Makes it really seem worth the work right! A wonderful woman once told me “Work smart, not hard”. Once the shell is filled place it back in the fridge to keep cool while poaching the berries.


My favourite for this tart is pretty standard. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries but honestly its a classic for a reason. But know that you can use almost any fruit in place of the berries. At Christmas I like to use cranberries instead and top with some toasted pistachios for colour.

Ok back to what we are supposed to be doing. Start by putting 1 cup of water into a large saucepan then add 1 cup and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Place the pan over medium heat, let the sugar dissolve into the water and come to a slight boil. While wanting for the sugar to dissolve wash and prep your fruit that you are going to be using. Once the sugar has completely dissolved in the water you have a simple syrup and can add your fruit. I only cook the fruit about 2 minutes, I like them to keep shape and not become overly sweet.


When the berries are removed from the simple syrup place them onto parchment to cool. Also reserve the syrup from the pan, it will be perfect to brush over the tart right before serving.


Once the berries are cooled comes the super fun part, making up your pattern. For this I kept it pretty straightforward, but really your creativity is the only limit. Once all the fruit has been added I like to let the tart chill at least an hour in the fridge before serving.

When you take it out to serve use a pastry brush, and the reserved simple syrup, to give a light brush over the berries. This  will really make it shine.


That just leaves eating it, and really that is the best part…even if I this is one of may favourite desserts to make.





Vanilla Pastry Cream


4 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

2 cups whole milk

pinch salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp butter



  • In a large bowl add the yolks, whole egg, cornstarch, and 1/4 cup of the sugar and whisk to fully combine.
  • In a saucepan add the milk, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, whisking to combine.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat to warm the milk mixture. Once it is just starting to reach a boil remove it from the heat.
  • At this point begin whisking the egg/cornstarch mixture and slowly drizzle the heated milk into the eggs. Don’t rush, slow and steady here really does win the race.
  • Continue to whisk, adding the milk mixture. Do this until half of the heated milk has been added to the egg mixture.
  • Now pour the egg mixture  into the saucepan with the remaining heated milk, whisking the entire time.
  • Once its all added together, and whisked, place the saucepan back over the burner at medium heat. Use a rubber spatula to occasionally stir and scrape the bottom to prevent scorching.
  • Cook the pastry cream until it is thick and bubbling, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Stir until fully combined and butter is completely melted.
  • Pour pastry cream into a glass dish and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure to press the plastic wrap onto the surface of the pastry cream. Then place in refrigerator until ready to use.


Pâte Sucrée



1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup icing sugar

1/3 cup almond flour (finely ground)

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1 large egg

1/4 tsp vanilla extract



  • Sift the flour, icing sugar, almond flour, and salt together into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Place the bowl onto the mixer and add the butter.
  • Mix on low speed until the mixture looks like sand.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix on low until dough is barely mixed. If you can still see some dry ingredients that is fine, but you do not want to over work the dough.
  • Pour the dough onto the counter and press down with your hands to incorporate the remaining dry ingredients.
  • Shape the dough into 2 discs and wrap individually in plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rest in the fridge at least 2 – 3 hours then it will be ready to use.

Note: The dough keeps in the fridge for 4 days, or can be frozen for up to two months.

  • Once the pâte sucrée has chilled and rested it is time to roll out and make the tart shell. You will only need one of the pâte sucrée rounds for this recipe.
  • Lightly flour a work surface, and both sides of the dough.
  • Roll out one round to 1/4″ thick. Make sure to turn, and check, while rolling that the dough isn’t sticking to the counter.
  • Use your tart ring, or rectangle, as a size guide to cut out your tart shell.
  • Gently transfer the cut out shell to parchment paper and chill in the fridge about 15 minutes.
  • While dough is chilling make sure to grease your tart pan with butter, making sure no visible pieces remain.
  • After 15 minutes remove the pâte sucrée from the fridge and carefully work it into your prepped tart pan. Make sure to gently press the dough all the way to the bottom of the tart pan,  and into each groove.
  • Use a sharp knife to trim off the excess dough. Then use a fork to lightly poke holes into the bottom of the shell to prevent air bubbles from forming.
  • Refrigerate the shell for 15 minutes whitely oven preheats to 375 degrees.
  • Once the oven is at temperature bake the tart shell at 375 for 18 minutes. Or until it is a light golden brown.
  • Remove from oven to cooling rack. Once it has cooled dough to handle remove the tart shell from the tart pan.
  • Place the shell back onto the rack to cool completely.


Poached Berries


1 cup blueberries, washed

1 cup strawberries, cleaned and hulled

1/2 cup raspberries, washed

1 cup water

1 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar


  • Place the water and sugar into a saucepan, gently stirring to combine.
  • Place the pan over medium heat and cook until the sugar has melted completely into the water. DO not stir as it cooks, just gently swish the pan as necessary.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved into the water add the berries, and let poach in the simple syrup about 2 minutes.
  • Do not leave them too long or they will turn into mush, and not hold shape.
  • Remove berries to parchment paper and allow to cool completely.
  • Reserve berry syrup for brushing over the top of the tart, or for many other uses.

Tart Assembly (we made it!):

  • Once the tart shell has cooled completely add half the pastry cream we made above to fill it.
  • Do not over, or under, fill the tart shell. You want to leave about a 1/4′ of space at the top of the tart so the berries have a nice spot to sit.
  • Once the tart is filled with pastry cream chill it in the fridge while you prep the berries, or for about 30  minutes.
  • Once the tart is filled and chilled, and the berries are cooled, comes the best part. Finishing the tart with our beautiful berries.
  • Once the berries have been arranged on top chill the tart for about 30 minutes before serving, or keep in fridge until ready to serve.
  • Gently brush reserved berry syrup over the top of the berries just before serving.

Tart keeps in the fridge  for about 3 days, but I doubt it will last that long.



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