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Vanilla Carrot Cream Tart
Scratch Baking | Durham, North Carolina
The carrots that begin showing up at farmer’s markets in early spring—especially the smaller heirloom varieties—add surprising natural sweetness to custard fillings like this one. This tart is a lovely way to make use of local produce at a time of year when rhubarb and other harbingers of spring have yet to make an appearance.
Serves 8 to 10
FOR THE TART DOUGH
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) cold unsalted butter, diced into ½-inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1tablespoon heavy cream
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
FOR THE FILLING
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick coins (about 1½ cups)
- ? cup heavy cream
- ½ vanilla bean
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- ? cup granulated sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
Combine the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles small pebbles. Add the egg and heavy cream and pulse again. Add the flour all at once and pulse in bursts until the dough begins to come together. Scrape the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface.
Working quickly and using the heel of your hand or a dough scraper, smear the dough across the floured surface a little at a time to incorporate the butter. This French technique, called fraisage, is the key to a tender, flaky crust.
When all of the dough has been smeared, gather it together in a mass and gently form a flat disk that’s 1½ inches thick. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or freeze for up to 1 month. If using the dough right away, after an hour, remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to sit out for 10 to 15 minutes, to make it easier to roll.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 14- to 15-inch circle that’s ¼ inch thick. Fold the dough in half and carefully lay it in a 10-inch tart pan with a false bottom and fluted edges. Lightly press the dough into the corners and fold the outer edge of the pastry into the sides, pressing to create an even wall that extends just beyond the top of the pan. Pinch off excess pastry and reserve the extra dough. Prick the shell with a fork and freeze for at least 15 minutes.
To make the filling, combine the carrots and heavy cream in a small nonreactive saucepan. Split the vanilla bean half, scrape the seeds, and add them to the pan along with the pod. Simmer the mixture, covered, over low heat until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, remove the vanilla pod, and purée with an immersion blender or in a regular blender until very smooth.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt until well combined. Add the cool carrot purée and buttermilk. This mixture can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead.
Heat the oven to 325°F. Bake the tart shell for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottom is lightly golden. If the dough begins to bubble up, use a clean dry towel to gently press the it down.
Pour the filling into the partially baked shell and then bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the edges puff slightly. The tart will be jiggly in the center and appear to be underbaked—this is okay. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill until set, about 2 hours.
Remove the tart from the pan and serve at room temperature the day it is baked or chilled the following day.