I love fruit tarts with pastry cream,  or creme patissiere, or commonly vanilla pudding. The key to making great pudding is using a real vanilla bean.  Vanilla extract has its place and serves a good purpose, but in pastries I always use fresh vanilla.  I stumbled upon something that I absolutely love.  Sometimes chef's come up with things becuase either they failed the first time or they just happened to have a certain thing on hand and not another.  In this case I didn't have any fine organic cane sugar, all I had was turbinado sugar. Turbinado sugar is just natural brown sugar, where brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses added to it.  In the UK it is called demerara sugar. There are a few other natural brown sugars depending on what part of the world your in.  Turbinado has big flakes and seems not to melt all the way because of the size of flakes, which gave me sweet and crunchy crust that is heavenly.

For the Crust.

1/2 cup of butter

1/4 cup of turbinado sugar

1 cup of all purpose flour

1/4 cup of oats

1/4 cup of almond meal

For the Pastry Cream.

2 1/4 cups of whole milk

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup of sugar

1 vanilla bean split in half

1/2 cup of flour

For the Fruit.

1 lb strawberries

8 oz of blueberries

8 oz of raspberries

4 kiwi, sliced

8 oz of blackberries

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

For the crust, place butter, flour, oats, almond meal and sugar into a food processor.  Pulse until all of the ingredients come together like wet sand.  Remove the dough from the processor and divide it among six tart shells. Press the dough into each shell, prick with a fork, and bake the tarts  on a sheet pan in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly brown.  When the tarts have finished baking, allow them to cool. 

For the pastry cream, scald the milk and vanilla bean in a meduim sauce pot. Turn off the heat when the milk starts to a boil.  Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a food set to high, until the eggs and sugar form pale white ribbons.  Add the flour to the eggs and beat for 30 seconds.  Temper the eggs by whisking in one ladle of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated with the egg and flour mixture.  Place the egg mixture back onto medium heat and whisk continually to thicken the pudding.  Allow about 5 minutes, but don't boil.  Once it  has thickened, pour the pudding into a bowl.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the pudding so it doesn't form a skin, and place in the refridgerator.   Leave the vanilla bean in the pudding until everything has cooled,  then discard the bean.

For the fruit, wash the berries, and slice the kiwis. 

Fill tarts with a few spoons of pastry cream and arrange the berries on top.  The pastry cream recipe is probably more than you need but I'm sure you can find a way to get rid of it or just double the tart recipe.  Chill and enjoy!

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