SOURCE: Puff pastry and pastry cream from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes One and Two
As I’ve been playing around extensively with homemade puff pastry, it was only natural to make some rhubarb tarts when a bunch of homegrown rhubarb landed on my kitchen counter. According to this blog, you know it’s May when I whip out a rhubarb recipe. This year, I decided to make a tart using a puff pastry base, almond pastry cream and poached rhubarb, all using Julia Child recipes or methods.
The tart base uses Julia Child’s classic French puff pastry recipe (pâte feuilletée fine) with its glorious 729 layers of butter sandwiched between 730 layers of dough. As I practice this more, I get better at rolling out the layers and producing sky-high pastry. The recipe and it’s excellent instructions are found in Volume Two of Mastering the Art of French cooking.
For the filling, I used her pastry cream recipe from Volume 1, crème pâtissière, flavoured with of vanilla extract, almond extract and ground almonds, an option provided in the recipe. The ground almonds also gives the cream a bit more density and structure.
I prepared the rhubarb by poaching it, a relatively simple preparation. Most recipes call for poaching rhubarb in a sugar syrup mixture that’s equal parts water and sugar. I elevated this in a very Julia Child way by using half water and half white vermouth. I had a large quantity of rhubarb, so I used 1 cup of water, 1 cup of white vermouth and 2 cups of sugar. Bring this to a boil in a wide sauce pan, add the rhubarb, then take the heat. The rhubarb will cook perfectly from the residual heat.
I saved the cooking liquid, cooked it down by about half, and saved this as a delicious rhubarb glaze for the tarts (or any other dessert).