White Currant-Blackberry Tartlettes

Paris-inspired white currant-blackberry tart

I typically come to Paris with a pre-written list of pastry shops I want to try, either new places I’ve heard about or ones I’ve actively researched in advance of the trip. But sometimes, once there, I effortlessly stumble upon amazing, little-known gems when I have absolutely zero agenda. With the added thrill of surprise, these experiences are often some of the most inspiring.

On my most recent visit, I had no knowledge of Sébastien Gaudard or his patisserie (opened in late 2011) until I walked along Rue des Martyrs in search of brunch one sleepy Sunday morning. Blanketed with a delicate dusting of powdered sugar and cradled in fluted white papers, his white currant tarts called out to me through the window, pulling me into the shop that’s as airy and elegant as the pastries inside.

So when I found rare white currants, with similar serendipity, at my local farmers' market, I knew I had to recreate my own version of the tarts. Though I couldn’t resist adding these unusually petite blackberries (that were for sale next to the currants), I kept my ingredients simple and the overall look of the tarts in line with Guadard’s.

Close-up: White Currant Blackberry Tart

Sweet Tart Dough (Pâte Sucrée):
Yield: 12, 4-inch shells

1 cup (2 sticks butter)
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry Cream Filling:
4 cups milk
½ vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out
1 ¼ cup sugar, divided roughly in half
¾ cup cornstarch
3 eggs
Crème de cassis to taste

2 pints white currants
2 pints blackberries
Powdered sugar for dusting

For Sweet Tart Dough: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes on medium speed). Add the flour and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the egg yolk and vanilla, mixing on low until the dough comes together. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove dough from fridge and let it soften at room temperature for a few minutes. Meanwhile, lightly butter and flour 12, four-inch tart pans.

Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and then roll out into circles about ⅛- to ¼-inch thick. If dough sticks, dust with a little bit of flour. Prick small holes in the dough with a fork, and then carefully transfer the circles to the pans, lightly pressing the dough into the edges. Patch up any tears, and then roll a rolling pin over the top of the pans to remove any excess dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and then bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden.

For Pastry Cream Filling: Create an ice bath by adding a handful of ice cubes and a splash of water to a large bowl, and then place another bowl fitted with a fine mesh sieve on top.

In a medium sauce pan, add milk, half the sugar, and vanilla bean seeds and pod, and then simmer on low. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk eggs, remaining sugar, and cornstarch until the mixture becomes pale yellow in color and ribbons when you drop a spoonful of it back into the bowl.

Once milk begins to boil, remove vanilla bean pod with a slotted spoon and then pour about a third of it into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Add mixture back into the sauce pan and continue to whisk until it starts to boil. Pour over the ice bath and allow to cool. Stir in crème de cassis.

To Assemble: Fill tart shells with pastry cream, about ¾ of the way up the sides (if the pastry cream has completely set, beat in a stand mixture on medium for a few minutes). I like to fill a pastry bag with the cream and then pipe it into the shells, but you can always use a teaspoon, smoothing it out until it’s even. Arrange currants and blackberries on top, and then lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Three white currant-blackberry tarts