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A MID-SPRING DESSERT CLASSIC made easy (or easier) . . . with simplified  steps :

1. No slicing up of strawberries (which is why I use very large whole strawberries that have been softened just enough with lemon/lime juice and sugar and have released part of their juices).

2. Using the released juices to create the syrup glaze for the strawberries and to seal the insides of the tartlet shells.

3. Making tart shells that are not a shortcrust or puff pastry base but a simple mixture with cookie crumbs and ground almonds to easily shape thick & crunchy individual tart shells or cups.

4. Preparing a vanilla cream filling quickly and using it when it is still warm (before completely firming up) to avoid re-smoothing it and not using a pastry bag to fill each individual tartlet shell.

5. Assembling everything after all the preparations in under 2 hours and then refrigerating before serving . . .

Of course you can do it the hard way or make a large fruit tart but this is easier and individual servings are perfect for guests that pop in for a short or longer visit (as was the case this week with a friend “ROULA” from Montreal who I had gone to elementary and high school with and who was also a neighbor and was visiting Europe for the first time ever and who I hadn’t seen in 33 years and it was her birthday too) !



strawberry cream tartlets


8 tartlets (100 grams each)


strawberries & glaze :

  • 280-320 grams (8 very large) strawberries
  • 60 grams (5 tbsp) granulated golden cane sugar
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) lemon & lime juice (and some zest)

cookie tartlet shells :

  • 60 grams (2/3 cup) crushed cookies (digestives, tea biscuits, graham crackers)
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 30 grams (1/3 cup) almond powder
  • 30 grams (2 ½ tbsp) granulated golden cane sugar
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) melted butter
  • 1 gram (1/8 tsp) salt

vanilla cream filling :

  • 240 ml (1 cup) unsweetened condensed milk
  • 35-40 grams (2 large) egg yolks
  • 45 grams (1/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 20 grams (2 tbsp) cornstarch
  • 20 grams (1 ½ tbsp) butter (cubed)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) rose water
  • optional (if you’re in a big rush) : 2 grams gelatin (2 sheets of 1 gram each or ½ tsp powdered gelatin)


strawberries & glaze :

  • wash & remove hulls from the strawberries, toss with the lemon/lime juice, zest and sugar (you can add lemon/lime slices too) and let sit for 60-90 minutes until slightly softer and they release part of their juices
  • drain the sticky juice from the strawberries (about 120 ml or ½ cup), place the strawberries on a rack, heat the juice in a small casserole at medium-high heat for 10 minutes until thicker and reduced to two-thirds of the initial volume (approximately 80 ml or 1/3 cup) and let cool to room temperature
  • pour the syrup glaze on top of each strawberry several times until glossy and well-coated and let the excess syrup drip off (save the syrup for later) and let the strawberries dry at room temperature for 30 minutes or 1 hour

cookie tartlet shells :

  • preheat oven to 190°C
  • mix together the crushed cookies, flour, almond powder, sugar and salt and combine with the melted butter until sandy
  • brush the cupcakes mold with melted butter (if not using silicone), add about 3 tbsp of the mix in each cavity, press down gently and then form a deep round indent in the middle to create a cup shape (use anything that is appropriately-sized such as the base of a shot glass, espresso coffee press tool, large cork, etc)

note : my silicone baking mold had 8 straight-sided cylinder-shaped cavities and each measured 6 cm in diameter and 4 cm high …

  • bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden, press down the centers if too  puffed up and let cool completely
  • when cooled, remove the individual tart shells from the baking mold and brush the inside with the remaining thickened strawberry syrup to seal the insides (before adding the vanilla cream)

vanilla cream filling :

  • heat up the unsweetened condensed milk with the scraped vanilla pod or extract and rose water and salt  (I add 1 bay leaf too) until slightly simmering
  • whisk together the egg yolks, icing sugar and cornstarch until very smooth
  • remove the vanilla pod and:or bay leaf, slowly add the very warm simmered condensed milk to the egg yolk mixture and continue whisking until thickened, then return the mixture to the casserole and keep whisking continuously at medium heat for 2-2 ½ minutes until thickened
  • remove from the heat, add the cubed butter and whisk until well incorporated and glossy (add the soaked gelatin sheets or gelatin powder now if you are in a rush and need to assemble the tarts immediately) and whisk until very smooth

note : if you’re not in a rush , you can refrigerate the vanilla cream filling and use a pastry bag to fill the tart shells later on or the next day …

  • fill each tart shells with the still warm vanilla cream filling (if the cream has firmed up quickly, then use a pastry bag), place a large strawberry on each and slightly push down, sprinkle with some lemon and lime zest and refrigerate/chill before serving.