To me, the perfect custard is about the eggs. It should be silky smooth, rich, and with that undeniably round flavor eggs impart on whatever they touch. Nestled in a crisp tart crust and infused with a touch of chai spices, this custard is the perfect understated dessert to serve with a cup of tea. Enjoy!
3 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 ounces white sugar
1 3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, deseeded (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
2 green cardamom pods
2-3 whole black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1-2 pieces cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 par-baked tart crust (recipe below)
Pre heat oven to 425F.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and egg yolks lightly with the sugar. Warm the half and half, cream, and spices (including the vanilla seeds and pod), to a gentle simmer, then strain slowly over the beaten eggs, stirring constantly. Be careful not to overheat the cream or it will curdle the eggs. Pour the egg and cream mixture through a sieve into the tart pan.
Place the tart onto a baking sheet and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 10 minutes to brown the pastry. Lower the temperature to 350°F and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or until the custard is set.
INGREDIENTS (TART CRUST)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In a food processor or quickly using your fingertips, combine the flour, sugar, salt and butter until the chunks of butter are broken down to the size of peas and the flour feels like wet sand. Add the first 1/4 cup of water and mix until the dough comes together easily. It’s too dry if it immediately clumps apart. Add two tablespoons of water at a time, you can always add more water but not more flour, so careful not to add too much!
Gather the dough into two balls and plop them on top of two sheets of plastic wrap. Loosely wrap up each ball and press down, pressing the ball into a disc about an inch thick.
Pop them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes while you busy yourself with the filling.
DIRECTIONS (PAR-BAKED CRUST)
To par-bake, roll out and place your dough in your pie pan; add a sheet of parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights (this is to ensure the pie keeps its shape). To fully blind bake, bake it at 425 F for 10 minutes or until the sides begin to brown. Remove the paper and beans/weights and reduce oven to 375 degrees, baking for 5 more minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool completely.