yields about 20 -- 2.5" fluted tartlettes or one 10" tart
1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temp ( I like Plugra )
1/4 cup veg shortening ( I loveee earth balance! It was a vegan staple of mine)
14 t salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 c AP flour
bit of melted and cooled butter for tart shells
note: If you are making a single 10" tart rather than a million tartlettes, weigh your shell with pie weights or raw rice in a sheet of parchment so that it does not shrink while baking. For the mini tarts, you do not need to worry about this.
1 cup milk
a few sprigs of lavender
3 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tea vanilla
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream
basket strawberries, rinsed, dried and halved (hulls intact for aesthetics)
pint nice fat blackberries!
(you can really use any fruit you want here)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. I prepare the crust by hand, with a pastry cutter, but feel free to use a cuisinart and cut the butter and then the wet into the dry ingredients by pulsing until it becomes a nice coarse meal. If the crumbs form a dough when you pinch a bit together, you're ready. If not, you can add a tiny bit (tablespoon) of ice water to pull it together.
Use a pastry brush to lightly butter several fluted tartlette pans. Use your hands to press sandy mixture into pans, working the sides first and then the bottom. The goal is to cover the metal but not let the shell get too thick, as it puffs up when baking. You can chill the shells if you wish, and it is best to do so if it's especially warm out or you are slow going in terms of assembling shells. The mixture will soften against warm hands, and you should chill for about 30 minutes if this is the case! I do not prick the tartlettes before baking, but definitely prick a 10" if you are going that route. Bake the shells for 10-15 minutes ( I watched mine VERY carefully and pulled them right as they started to become golden).
COOL the shells in their tins for five minutes and then remove from pans. The shell should be study, crisp and cookie-like -- crisp but chewy in the center.
For the cream, bring the milk to boil in a small saucepan with the lavender. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let sit for about five minutes or until the lavender is suitably strong/mild/how you like it! You could also try this with fresh mint leaves. Strain the milk through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the lavender. In a clean pan, whisk egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla, whisk in the milk (temper! you don't want scrambled eggs). Bring the mixture to a boil over MODERATE heat, whisking constantly. Simmer pastry cream, whisking, for 3 minutes (it'll be thick). Transfer it to a bowl. Chill it, covered for a bit until firm.
Beat heavy cream in a mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Whisk pastry cream, whisk in half the whipped cream, and fold the rest in.
Prepare fruit, washing gently and patting dry. I made a simple syrup with sugar and water, and used it as a glaze at the last minute.
Fill the shells with the lavender pastry cream using a 16" pastry bag with a standard, round tip. You should end up with extra. Place fruit on top of cream in any arrangement you wish, duhhh. :]