I love berry season. It’s one of the main reasons I go to the farmers market during the summer, for the berries. It’s not quite berry season yet but there have been sales on blackberries recently so I hopped on the chance to buy several ounces. And I mean several ounces. I may have been a little greedy and so to use up some of the blackberries, I decided to bake a dessert. It was a tough decision but I finally decided on making a blackberry creme brulee tart. Just the thought of tart blackberry custard in a sweet pastry crust finished with bruleed sugar was too good to pass up. And you know what? It was a definite winner.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
If you’ve seen my pie and tart recipes, I tend to go the extra step to make it unique. This blackberry creme brulee tart is no exception. First, you have the sweet pastry crust. Then you have the blackberry creme brulee filling which has pureed blackberries mixed in. Next is the caramel which turns into the creme brulee topping. And finally, there are the roasted blackberries on top, because you can never have too many blackberries.
Let’s get started with the first component, the pastry crust. Unlike a typical pie crust, this one has the addition of egg and sugar to make it a sweet crust. Whenever you make pie dough, you need all of the ingredients to be cold. For this crust, we’re going the opposite and actually need the butter to be soft and the egg to be at room temperature. Beat the sugar with the butter, add the egg, and then add the flour and just enough water to bring the dough together. This pastry crust is going to be more like a sweet cookie than a buttery flaky pie crust. Chill the dough to make it easier to roll out.
When the dough is firm, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer it to a tart pan and gently press it into the pan, making sure not to stretch the dough. If you stretch the dough too much, it will shrink significantly when baked. Poke holes in the bottom of the shell to prevent it from puffing and chill for another 30 minutes. Finally, bake the crust for 8 minutes. Brush on the egg to create a seal and prevent the custard from making a soggy crust. Continue to bake for another 2 minutes and let the crust cool. You can prepare the crust the day before to save time.
Tired yet? I hope not because now it’s time to make the custard filling. Start by making the blackberry puree. You just want to simmer the berries with a little bit of lemon to soften them. Once they’re soft, blend it up and strain the puree to discard the seeds. Mix the blackberry puree with egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla and heat up heavy cream until it simmers, but is not boiling. Then, slowly pour the heavy cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Don’t pour the cream all at once or else it will cook the eggs and you’ll end up scrambled eggs.
Pour the custard into the tart shell and bake until it’s set but the center is still a little wobbly. Check on the tart after about 30 minutes to determine how much longer it needs. It can quickly go from being perfectly baked to overcooked. Chill the tart overnight to let the custard firm up and take this time for a break.
The next day, it’s time to finally finish the blackberry creme brulee tart. Roast some fresh or frozen blackberries with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. It’ll be the winning garnish on the tart, trust me. You can also prepare the berries the day before if you still have the energy.
Next, make the caramel. This step is meant more for people who don’t have a blowtorch at home to finish the brulee. However, if you do own one, you can skip this step. Instead, sprinkle sugar on top of the pie and use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Garnish with the blackberries and you’re done.
For everyone else, we’re going to take a couple of extra steps. In all honesty, I think it actually comes out better this way anyway so don’t fret! Combine granulated sugar with just a touch of water and simmer it over medium heat until it becomes golden brown. Take it off the heat immediately and pour it on to parchment paper to cool. Once cooled, break up the sugar and use a food processor to grind it.
Sprinkle a good amount of the sugar (you’ll probably have a little extra) on the custard tart. Set the oven broiler to high and broil the tart until the sugar melts, about 2-3 minutes. Check the tart about halfway through because you may have to rotate it to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven, garnish the tart with the berries and you’re finally ready to enjoy.
This blackberry creme brulee tart is best served on the day of, just like traditional creme brulee. Over time, the sugar will soften and you’ll lose that hardened sugar topping. BUT! That’s not to say it will still taste fabulous. I can truly say this tart has won my heart.
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