South African milk tart with fruits recipe

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  • Yield: 1 (9") fluted tart


For the Crust
  • ½ package frozen puff pastry (1 sheet), defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten with a bit of heavy cream, for egg wash
For the Filling
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Topping
  • Sliced or whole fruit of choice: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kumquats, cape gooseberries, etc.
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. For the Crust
  3. Start by rolling out and blind-baking the crust. On a floured surface, roll the sheet of puff pastry out just enough so it will cover the inside of the tart pan and have some overlap. Place it carefully in the tart shell and press it into the corners and sides. Trim the excess. Place a piece of wax paper across the top of the tart so it covers the sides. Add dried beans to weigh down the crust and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you start on the filling.
  4. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take the crust out of the oven, remove the weights, and brush with the egg wash. Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until golden. Set aside until ready to fill and leave the oven on.
  5. For the Filling
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the milk, salt, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and almond essence up to boil. Lower immediately to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream with the cornstarch, making sure there aren’t any lumps. Add this to the milk mixture along with the butter and stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.
  7. Put the egg yolks in a larger bowl because you’ll be adding the milk mixture to them. You want to start by adding a little bit of the milk mixture and stirring or whisking to incorporate. Continue to do this a little at a time until the milk mixture is completely incorporated—we do this to avoid cooking the yolks and having bits of it in the tart. Let this mixture cool to closer to body temperature before moving on to the next step.
  8. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the ½ cup of confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form—it should be light and fluffy. Add a spoonful or two of the milk custard to the egg whites and incorporate. Carefully, fold the egg whites into the milk custard to lighten it up. Be careful not to overmix or you will deflate it significantly.
  9. Add this filling to the tart shell. Mix together the last 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the tart. This will develop into a nice brown crust on top.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature 25° to 350°F, and bake another 15 minutes.
  11. Cool on a rack and top with fruits of your choice before serving. As a fruit tart, I like this on the cold side, but if you forgo the fruits, this can be served warm.

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