19 July 2011

Gooseberry/Blueberry Custard Tart and Whipped Cream

This past weekend, my girl Sara came home for a Sunday dinner and to choose a kitty to be her new apartment mate ... I still haven't pried which kitty she prefers from her. I personally think she is overwhelmed by their cuteness and can't decide. No matter. We have all the time in the world ... or at least several more weeks before the kitties will be ready to leave their momma cat.

In the meantime, we puttered in the kitchen and put together a wonderful summertime dinner - boiled lobster, corn on the cob, zucchini sauté, and this tart ...

the colors in this pie are just so vibrant - like the flavours

This year, the folks at Monadnock Berries over in Troy, New Hampshire have harvested gooseberries and have been featuring small pint baskets at their farmstand. Gooseberries, for those of you who are unfamiliar, are about the size of small green grapes. They have a bunch of seeds, skins that pop when you chew into the berries, soft smooth flesh like grapes, and a unique flavour.  My cookbook suggests mixing them in a 1 to 3 ratio when making pies or tarts.

gooseberry image: courtesy DeGroot Nurseries

I have been curious about gooseberries for a good long time. My sister-in-law always raves about their "Sweet Tart' flavour. Remember those little candies that exploded sweet sourness into your mouth when you popped one onto your tongue? That's how she described the gooseberry experience to me and I have been intrigued by them ever since! She makes a pie with gooseberries and strawberries, and I got thinking about that last week, as I came home from marketing.

I have blueberries that need to be used before the new crop gets picked next weekend, so marrying the two flavors - tart and sweet seemed a good idea! This berry tart has a smooth custard that gets poured over top of the gooseberry-blueberry filling,  just after it comes from the oven. Then, the tart is chilled and served with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on each slice.  The tart has such a glossy sheen to it when you take it from the fridge ... the berries are just shiny little rounds! Sooo pretty!

you can see the berry juices just busting to get out of that tart

With that dollop of whipped cream, the tart is just delicious! If you can find some gooseberries, give it a try!

tart gooseberries meet sweet blueberries and swim together in a sweet creamy egg custard

The other thing about this tart is that the crust is a sweet butter-based Pâte Sucrée. I was skeptical of mixing the butter in with my fingers, but the technique worked perfectly. The crust gets refrigerated for a while to make it easier to roll out. The resulting baked crust was really tasty!

Berry Custard Tart
from The Joy of Cooking

Pâte Sucrée Crust Ingredients:

1 c. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp. butter, softened but not mushy
1 egg yolk
½ tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice or water

Making the Dough:
1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt.

2. Add the butter in chunks and rub it in, using your fingers to form a ‘ragged flour mix’.

3. Make a well in the flour mix and add the egg yolk, vanilla, and lemon juice.

4. Mix thoroughly with your fingers until the dough forms a ball and doesn’t stick to your hands.

5. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.

6. Roll on a floured surface and place in tart shell (or smaller tart shells). Prick with a fork.

7. Blind bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Use pie weights on foil to keep dough from ‘bubbling up. Crust will be golden brown and flaky firm (almost like shortbread).

8. Remove and line with tart filling for baking and continue baking for recommended time. In this recipe, you fill the blind-baked tart shell with the gooseberry/bluberry filling, reduce the oven temperature to 375° F and continue baking for 35 minutes.

Gooseberry/Blueberry Tart Filling Ingredients:

1 c. fresh gooseberries, washed, picked over, and tipped
3 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
⅔ sugar
¼ c. flour
3 tbsp. cornstarch
¼ c. sweet wine (I used a sweet raspberry wine that I had)

Making the Filling:
1. Toss the berries with the flour, to coat them.

2. Add the sugar and cornstarch and toss to incorporate.

3. Drizzle the wine over the surface and set the bowl aside.

4. Toss the filling just before you want to turn it into the tart shell.

5. Bake as recommended in recipe (see above.)

Custard Tart Filling Ingredients:

½ c. heavy cream
3 beaten egg yolks
½ c. sugar
⅛ tsp. salt

Making the Custard:
1. Use a double boiler pan set or place a heavy saucepan over (not in) boiling water (I set my saucepan on a steamer rack over water that I set to boil in a larger pan).

2. Combine the ingredients and whisk slowly and constantly until the sugar dissolves and the custard begins to thicken.

3. When the custard begins to have bubbles around the edges of the pan and the custard coats the back of a spoon and is slow to ‘drip’, remove from the heat and cool slightly.

4. Pour the custard over the warm baked tart. Allow it too cool further and then refrigerate to chill the tart completely.


  1. I have never had gooseberries, but they sound fantastic!

  2. This is so lovely Susan - I have never had gooseberries - where can I buy them?

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  3. @ Devaki - I got mine at the source, where the Manadnock Berries has their farmstand, but you might try farmers' Markets in your area. They are sometimes brought into the supermarkets when the berry season is is high production. Ask around!

  4. Oh I love gooseberries. Our Aunt in Southern Illinois always picks and freezes some for us. I've never seen them available here in Georgia, so perhaps the winters aren't cold enough for them. Anyway, you are right about the sour/tart taste. For most folks they need quite a lot more sugar than most berries. Lucky you to find a source!

  5. @ Kay - Nothing like an edit! I was saying ... I think that's why this recipe works for me. The crust is a sweet take, but not too sweet. The blueberries are a sweet foil to the rhubarb-like flavour of the gooseberries and the egg custard is a softly sweet topper .

  6. I've been hearing lots about gooseberries around the blogosphere but have never encountered one myself. This sounds like such a great tart, though!

  7. You've made me doubly envious Susan. First,the gooseberries- you just don't get them in Australia, or at least, not in subtropical Australia. Sometime we have something called a cape gooseberry, but that's quite different. I feel in love with gooseberries in Ireland. They pair perfectly with elderflowers...
    And then the 'blueberries you need to harvest'- are you SERIOUS?! You grow your own blueberries? I am speechless with the green devil...

  8. You had be at blueberry.

  9. I have seen gooseberries, but have never tried them. The way you describe them, combining them with blueberries sounds delicious.

  10. Amazing! I have never cooked with goodberries; you are sure tempting me.Great looking pie.

  11. I keep seeing gooseberry recipes all over! This custard tart sounds incredible paired with the two fruits =)

  12. I can't find gooseberries anywhere around my town. I have seen so many delicious recipes on blogs where gooseberries are the star ingredient. Your tart is to die for. I bet you guys enjoyed every bite.

  13. I've never heard of gooseberries. I'm so glad you attached a picture. Your tart looks absolutely delicious, but I would probably have to substitute because I've not seen gooseberries in Seattle. Lovely!

  14. Although fresh is best, some grocery stores carry canned gooseberries, usually close to the other pie fillings. Also, although it is very pricey, you can order them online at this address: http://www.nwwildfoods.com/gourmet-berries-c105/green-gooseberries-p152/.

    1. Wow! thanks for the link, Karen! It's almost berry season again! Zippitty-doo-dah!


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