Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust

August 26, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by Francoise Nicol
  • Makes eight 3-inch / 8-centimeter tartlets, or one 10-to 12-inch / 25- to 30-centimeter tart
Author Notes

Brittany is a land of butter, and with this butter they make shortbread cookies that are gloriously golden and shatter-in-your-mouth crumbly. These sablés bretons are traditionally served on their own, but in recent years French pastry chefs have taken to using them as the foundation for fruit tartlets, especially strawberry. In my version, the pastry cream is subtly flavored with lemon, which bolsters the sweetness of the berries. —clotilde

What You'll Need
  • Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined blond cane sugar (also sold as evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup / 160 ml milk (not skim) or unflavored, unsweetened nondairy milk
  • Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Breton Shortbread Tart Dough (recipe follows), baked
  • 1 1/4 pounds / 560 grams strawberries, preferably small, hulled and halved or quartered depending on their size
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (optional)
  • Breton Shortbread Tart Dough
  • 1/3 cup / 70 grams unrefined blond cane sugar (also sold as evaporated cane juice)
  • 6 tablespoons / 85 grams high-quality unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 small fresh vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 cup / 130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  1. Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and cornstarch.
  3. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and lemon zest to a simmer over medium heat. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg, and then pour the egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Return to low heat and whisk constantly for 1 minute as the mixture thickens to a custardy consistency, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan regularly so the texture is even. Dip a wooden spoon in and run your finger along the back of it: if the trace remains clear, the pastry cream is done.
  5. Pour into a clean bowl and whisk in the lemon juice. Cover, pressing a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for a few hours until chilled. The pastry cream may be prepared up to a day in advance; whisk again before using.
  6. Spoon the pastry cream onto the crust(s) and spread into an even layer. Arrange the strawberries over the cream in a circular pattern, starting from the center.
  7. If desired, prepare a jam glaze to give the tartlets more shine: In a small saucepan, heat the jam with 1 tablespoon water until syrupy, without allowing it to boil. If the jam contains bits of fruit, strain it. Glaze the strawberries lightly with the syrup using a pastry brush. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.
  1. Breton Shortbread Tart Dough
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. (Alternatively, do this by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.) Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean with the dull side of the blade, and add them to the sugar and butter (save the bean). Beat the sugar and butter at low speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk to remove any lumps. Add to the mixer and mix at low speed for a few seconds, just until no trace of flour remains. The dough will be quite soft.
  4. Transfer the dough to an ungreased 10- to 12-inch / 25 to 30 cm round cake or tart pan with a removable bottom. Alternatively, arrange eight 3-inch / 8 cm pastry rings on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat and divide the dough evenly among them. Press the dough into an even layer with a flexible spatula or the tips of your moistened fingers. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. / 175°C.
  6. Bake until golden brown, 35 minutes for a single tart, 25 minutes for tartlets. Transfer to a rack to cool for 20 minutes before loosening and cautiously removing the sides of the tart pan or pastry rings. Let cool completely before topping. The crust may be prepared a few hours ahead; once cool, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jennie Kroll Hollister
    Jennie Kroll Hollister
  • clotilde
  • striped beet
    striped beet
Clotilde Dusoulier is a French food writer based in Paris. Her focus is on fresh, colorful, and seasonal foods, making room for both wholesome, nourishing dishes and sweet treats. An enthusiastic explorer of flavors and observer of culinary trends, she contributes to international food and travel magazines, and writes cookbooks and guidebooks. She lives in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris with her boyfriend and their young son.

5 Reviews

Jennie K. July 9, 2014
Can't imagine anything better
striped B. August 29, 2013
Are the instructions for the crust complete at 2 steps?
clotilde August 29, 2013
Thanks for pointing that out, Striped Beet! There is indeed a part missing, I will fix it now.
striped B. August 29, 2013
Wonderful; thank you! These will be made to celebrate a 3 month birthday this weekend:)
clotilde August 29, 2013
That is so lovely to hear! I hope it's a super sweet celebration.