In keeping with our “Ephemera of the Farmers’ Market: weird berries edition” kick, last week we picked up some white currants and gooseberries… in addition to some peaches and two kinds of plums for Mr. T, who is powerless in the face of stone fruits’ allure. The white currants, I’ve decided, were a bit of a wash. They’re very pretty to look at but don’t offer much else than a muddy, greenish astringency. At least red currants’ tartness is complimented by their redness. And yes, “red” is a flavor. Anyway, having left the white currants to their own devices, I still had a pound of gooseberries to deal with.
They, too, are quite astringent, but much more interestingly so, in their green, tufty, slightly hairy way. According to the always charmingly informative Jane Grigson, they’re generally used in sauces for meat and a broad array of desserts–fools, pies, and the like.
La Grigson also averred that elderflower is an excellent flavor compliment for gooseberries. Since I don’t have any homemade elderflower ratafia floating around (for shame, I know) I decided to float the berries in a St. Germain-scented custard.
This was quite lovely, with the tart, seedy berries providing a lively contrast to the silky, fragrant custard. Mr. T, though, would have liked slightly more berries. I was just short a pound, so a full pound should do nicely. For a slightly more pronounced elderflower flavor (it was quite faint), dribble a teaspoon over the top of the custard after the tart’s come out of the oven and cooled just a bit. It’ll soak down into the interstices and give a little extra oomph. And yes, I am still tinkering with the master short crust pastry to end all debates, so I’m leaving that up to your discretion… for now.
Gooseberry Custard Tart
Yield: 8-10 servings
1 9″ tart tin lined with pastry
1 lb gooseberries
1 tbs flour
1/3 c sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 c heavy cream
2 tbs St. Germain
1 tsp pure vanilla
whipped cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blind bake the crust; line the pastry with buttered foil (butter side down) or a large coffee filter and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes, then remove the weights and their liner. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes.
While the crust is pre-baking, top and tail the gooseberries–use scissors to cut off the little brown tuft at one end, and any scraggly green bits at the other. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, till smooth. Add the cream, St. Germain, vanilla, and salt, whisking to combine well. Set aside.
When the crust is par-baked, remove from the oven and spread the gooseberries evenly over the crust. Pour over the custard and return the tart to the oven and bake for 40-50min, till the custard is set and just barely starting to brown around the edges.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream spiked with St. Germain.