Strawberry season is here, and big plump local berries were piled high at our market this past week 🍓. A sight for weary eyes indeed. For the last few weeks, we have been completely consumed with a new renovation project here at our little old home. The old carport was in a state of disrepair when we purchased the property and after years of legal hoops and approvals, we finally got the green light to replace it with a new garage. I will miss the old girl as she had a certain European charm about her – tumbled down and all – now it will be up to me to recreate her magic with the new garage. (Follow our reno on IG in the weeks ahead!)
Something sweet was in order to calm our renovation-frayed nerves – fresh sweet juicy local strawberries to the rescue! I decided to fill the crostata with some yummy pasticcera cream. You know the stuff – the creamy heavenly filling in the center of the cornetto con crema that I get in Italy (which never has enough filling!) In Montalcino, I always dream of having just a big bowl of it ….the stuff of my dreams!
Making pasticcera cream is actually pretty simple – just a bit of care is needed when cooking to be sure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs but it comes together in only about 15 minutes – and now I do have my very own big bowl of this heavenly stuff!
For the crust, I made an easy almond crust that required little effort – simply mix and press into the pan. Once you bake off the crust, you simply fill with the cream once cool and top with the strawberries and some melted jam. Super easy and super delicious….this might be my version of dessert heaven on a plate.
We sat around with the crew on our little construction site, wine close at hand, and celebrated the glorious season of strawberries – dust and all! 🍓
Wishing everyone a buon appetito! 😋
xx Michele ❤️Print
An easy strawberry crostata to celebrate the beautiful spring season, with an easy almond crust and a heavenly Italian cream filling.
Almond Crust (from King Arthur Baking):
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup almond flour
For the pasticcera cream:
- 2 cups full-fat milk
- 1 vanilla bean pod, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed and leaves removed
- 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
- 3 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds
1. Prepare the crust: Grease a 9” fluted tart pan and set aside.
2. Beat together the sugar, butter, salt, and extracts.
3. Add the flours, stirring to make the crumbs that cling together when squeezed. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Prick all over with a fork. Freeze the crust for about 15 minutes.
4. While the tart is in the freezer, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Bake the crust for 18-22 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden. Set aside to cool completely.
6. Prepare the filling: Warm the milk and the vanilla bean or vanilla extract over low heat. (Keep it low as you do not want the milk to boil.)
7. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until combined. Add in the cornstarch and stir until no lumps remain and the mixture is smooth.
8. Once the milk is just warmed, remove and discard the vanilla bean, if using. Very slowly, whisk the warmed milk into the egg mixture.
9. Pour the mixture back into the pot and cook over medium low heat, whisking gently, until the mixture thickens and is the consistency of pudding, about 5-8 minutes. Be sure to keep whisking.
10. Once thickened, pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge until cool.
11. Assemble the crostata: Remove the crust from the pan and place on a serving plate. Fill the shell with the cream.
12. Cut the strawberries into thin slices and arrange them on the pastry cream in a circular pattern (see photo).
13. Put the jam in the microwave for 20 secs. Gently brush the jam over the strawberries.
14. Chill the tart for about an hour. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds before serving. Enjoy!