Now that my valentine’s tart is no longer a surprise, I can post a few pictures about making it.
This was the end product:
I started on the Sunday night before Valentine’s Day with a pâte sucrée (sweet tart) dough for the crust, using Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s recipe, which calls for the ingredients to be mixed in the food processor (nice and easy, which is what I needed, since I had just walked in the door from a cross-country flight and needed this dough to be done and chilling so I could get to bed). I took a bit of a technique shortcut, too: I didn’t transfer the crumbly ingredients to a plastic bag to press them together like she wanted me to (sorry, Rose!). I just went straight to the plastic wrap, using that to squeeze the crumbles together before kneading them a few times, shaping them into a rough disk, then wrapping them and leaving them to repose happily in the fridge.
Then I made a batch of pastry cream, using a Williams-Sonoma recipe I like because it tastes richly of vanilla (the whole milk is infused with vanilla bean seeds).
Monday after work, I rolled out the dough, which was a bit of a stickier experience than rolling out pie dough. But I managed. I eased it into the heart-shaped tart pan and trimmed the edges, then wrapped it up snugly to pop back into the refrigerator.
Valentine’s morning, as I was taking my first sips of coffee, I preheated my oven to 425 and waited a good long time to make sure it was really that hot (it takes longer than your oven’s “preheated” buzzer suggests to get up to the right temperature, I’ve found). I wanted to make sure the dough got that initial shock of heat to set it.
While I was waiting, I filled the unbaked crust with parchment and beans and put it back in the fridge. When the oven was hot enough, it went into the oven. I baked it about 8-10 minutes, then removed the parchment and weights and kept baking–without reducing the heat, as Rose suggests–for another 10-12 minutes. Out of the oven it came, and off to work I went, half-drunk cup of coffee in hand.
After work that day–about two hours before the tart and I were due at the dinner-for-two–I spread the pastry cream into the bottom of the tart shell:
Then it was time to line up the fresh raspberries like obedient little soldiers.
And when I brushed it lightly over the berries, they took on a happy glow.
Which is how we circled back to this…