When I was a kid the Canada Day long weekend meant newspaper-clad picnic tables weighed down with lobsters, salads of the potato and pasta variety, and a towering strawberry shortcake topped with a preposterous amount of whipped cream. And that strawberry shortcake tasted like summer and the best part of summer too. The part of summer when there are still acres of it in front of you full of possibility and far from school.
But this Canada Day I’ve decided not to make a shortcake. I’ve assisted in the making of many strawberry shortcakes, I’ve even made a few solo – they’re not difficult to pull off. But they’re one of those classic cakes that are deeply personal.
Almost everyone has an opinion on which cake to use (always Minniehaha, always), whether to simply roll the strawberries in sugar or stew them (fresh all the way, baby), and the whipped cream? Are you the type that likes it sweeten or infused, or do you like to leave it unadulterated? Vanilla bean infused, unsweetened cream for me, by the way.
So, rather than write a predictable, click-bate blog post proclaiming I have the one true strawberry shortcake recipe or (heaven forbid) “The Best”, I though I’d give these cute, non-confrontational Strawberry White Chocolate Tarts a go.
These are not an age-old recipe, they’re just something I dreamed up while I was trying to fall asleep one night. I didn’t even intend for these tarts to be a “Canada Day Treat,” they just happened to be in my kitchen the week before wearing the right colours. And they have strawberries, and as we’ve established strawberries and my country’s birthday go hand-in-hand in my sense memory.
Contrary to my thoughts on the use of fresh strawberries in strawberry shortcake, I opted for a compote for these Strawberry White Chocolate Tarts. Why? I had this image of the creamy white ganache giving way to an ooze of strawberry goodness. If you prefer to use fresh, give ‘er! But I think the jelly-like quality of the strawberry filling makes these tart look almost jewel-like.
Also, you’ll notice this recipe calls for cognac. I think it adds a nice complexity to the berries and helps cut through the sweetness of the sugar, but if you’re not into boozing up your desserts or you don’t relish the thought of picking up an entire bottle of booze for one recipe, skip it! The compote will still behave in much the same way sans cognac and it will still taste like the best part of summer. 🙂
Happy Canada Day!
- 2 1/2 cups cake & pastry flour
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled & halved
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 oz cognac
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of half a lemon
- Pinch of salt
- 9 oz white Belgian chocolate wafers
- 4 oz whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- Place the pastry flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Turn the processor to low and drop in pieces of chilled butter one-by-one.
- Once the flour & butter mixture resembles a coarse meal, slowly add the water until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and cut in half. Flatten each half into a disc and wrap in parchment paper.
- Refrigerate the discs for at least 1/2 an hour or up to 48.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375?.
- In a small saucepan combine all of the compote ingredients and place over medium-high heat.
- Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Lower the heat to low and leave the compote to simmer for 15 minutes - stirring occasionally.
- Once the compote has thicken enough to readily coat the back of a spoon, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool.
- Roll out the pastry and cut into 10 -12 circles using a 3-inch round cookie cutter.
- Fit each circle into the cups of a standard muffin pan.
- Place the pan in the fridge and leave the pastry to chill for at least fifteen minutes.
- Place a standard sized cupcake sleeve into the center of each pastry cup and fill with enough pie weights to cover the bottom each cup.
- Bake pastry for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside until cool to the touch.
- When the compote and pastry shells are cool, spoon compote into shells until they are filled half-way. Set aside.
- Split a fresh vanilla bean pod down the middle and scrap out the caviar with the back of a butter knife.
- Place pod, caviar and cream in a small saucepan and heat until steaming but not boiling.
- Place chocolate in a medium stainless steel mixing bowl and pour heated cream over top. Whisk mixture until smooth.
- Immediately pour the white chocolate ganache into each tart shell until filled to the top.
- To make the heart design, dip a spoon into the compote and allow a single drop to fall on the soft ganache. Drag a toothpick through the drop to make a heart.
- Refrigerate tarts until the ganache is set and smooth to the touch.