Blackberry-Balsamic & Kiwi Tart


A little over a year ago, I discovered the berry-balsamic combination in all its greatness. I had just bought an ice cream maker, and since all the flavors in the little book seemed boring, I struck out on my own with strawberry-balsamic ice cream. I burned the hell out of the first batch of balsamic reduction, and I thought my roomies would never forgive me for the smell, but it ended up being so delicious that I never looked back.

After last week’s very-rich-and-creamy chocolate cake, the masses were begging for fruit, and I decided a tart would do the trick. I really like the look of blackberries and kiwis, but any berry would do for this recipe. (Except maybe blueberries. Someone try that and let me know how it goes?) I don’t use shortening if I can help it, so the all-butter crust is courtesy of Paula Deen. The rest is generally my own.

(Side note: DO NOT try and make pie crust with cake flour. Even if it’s all you have and you really don’t want to run to the store again. It is going to turn into a disgusting, gelatinous goo. Trust me on this one.)

Blackberry-Balsamic & Kiwi Tart

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
3 sticks unsalted butter

Combine everything until it forms a doughy ball. (Miss Deen uses a food processor, others use a stand mixer. I own neither so used a hand mixer and it worked fine.) Grease a 9×11″ glass baking dish with butter, and pre-heat your oven to 350F. Roll dough on a floured surface until it is pie-crust thin and roughly the same shape as your baking dish. Place crust in baking dish, press the corners in and the sides up, and bake for 10-15 minutes or so until it’s flaky and slightly brown and generally done. Cool on a baking rack.

Blackberry-balsamic egg custard:
6 egg yolks, cool
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup flour (I DID use cake flour here, and it was fine.)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2.5 cups milk, cream, etc (I use about half heavy cream and about half whole milk, and it is yummy.)
3 tspn vanilla extract

18 oz whole fresh blackberries
1/2 cup white sugar (can be adjusted to suit your berries; I was way out of season and they were TART)
2-ish tablespoons tapioca granules
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

In a metal bowl, mix the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, flour and cornstarch together until it forms a smooth, light yellow paste. Meanwhile, cook milk and vanilla extract on medium heat until JUST boiling. Remove from heat and add half to egg mixture in bowl, WHISKING CONSTANTLY to prevent sticking (it helps if you have three hands about now.)  Add the new mixture in the bowl back into the hot milk pot and keep on whisking. Return to medium heat and bring back JUST to a boil, and cook for about a minute more until it thickens and becomes hard to stir. Find that magic moment when it is as thick as you can get it without being burnt. Remove from heat, transfer to a clean bowl, and immediately cover and chill.

In a clean saucepan, put the blackberries, remaining sugar, and balsamic vinegar onto medium heat. Mash it a bit with a potato masher to smush up the berries. Gradually add up to 2 tblsn of tapioca to thicken, stirring well. Stir it well throughout, actually, and watch it closely, becuase burnt balsamic vinegar smells really vile. When it reaches a runny-but-jammy sort of consistency, remove from heat. Grab your chilling custard, add the blackberry compote, and beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Re-cover and put back in the fridge to chill completely through before assembling.

To assemble:
6 oz blackberries and 6 kiwis, give or take.

Slice kiwis into thin round slices, place on a plate, and stick in the freezer to chill. Wash the blackberries and stick them in the freezer, too.  When you’re almost ready to serve the tart, spoon the blackberry custard – completely chilled – into the cooled crust, and artfully place the chilled fruit on top. Devour.