Creamy custard on a sweet, buttery crust, topped with juicy grapes lightly dusted with sugar - this grape custard tart is absolutely delicious. I have seen similar tarts displayed in the shop windows of bakeries and cafes in Japan. And when the treat you're craving is located on the opposite end of the earth there is only one solution - make it yourself!
Tart crust is different from pie crust, and it is more prone to shrinking so you have to follow steps for prevention. The way that I make it requires a bit of equipment: a food processor, tin foil, pie weights, and a 9" tart pan. I'll give the details on how to make it in the recipe card below. Or, if you want to save on a bit of time and effort, you could use a store bought tart crust instead.
The custard is super easy to make. Bring the milk, heavy cream, lemon peel, sliced vanilla bean, and freshly ground nutmeg to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and powdered sugar together until they lighten in colour. Then pour the hot milk mixture into the eggs, continuing to stir while you pour. Strain the custard, let it sit for a few minutes, then skim any foam off the surface.
If you are making your own tart crust, at this point it will have baked for 20 minutes and now you will remove it from the oven and set it on a cooling rack while you remove the pie weights and tin foil. Pour in the custard. If you find it difficult to get the now liquid-full tart crust back into the oven, you could just fill it to a comfortable-to-transport level. Then top it up with the rest of the liquid once it is safely resting on the oven rack. This way you can avoid messy oven spillage.
Bake the custard for forty minutes or so, until it is mostly set with just the slightest jiggle in the middle when you tap the sides. Let the tart cool completely before adding the grapes.
decorating your grape custard tart
Bright green grapes are the prettiest to use for this dessert. They should be medium in size and seedless. Wash them thoroughly to avoid cooties from annoying grocery store snackers.
You will want the grape slices to be quite even. Each grape (if they're not too big) will give you two slices. Using a sharp knife, cut off each rounded end of the grape and cut the middle portion in half.
Start by placing grape slices in a ring all the way around the outer edge of the crust. You will be working from the outside in. Next, set the subsequent ring of grape slices resting on the edge of the grapes behind them. Do this with all of the following rings, and place a tiny baby grape at the very centre.
Dust the grapes with a generous sprinkle of superfine sugar. This will give them a little sweetness, as well as a beautiful glaze. Make sure to store your tart in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy it.Print
Creamy custard on a sweet, buttery crust, topped with juicy grapes lightly dusted with sugar.
1 ¼ cups (187 g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (237 ml) milk
1 vanilla bean
1 thick strip of lemon zest
8 egg yolks
½ cup (65 g) powdered sugar, sifted
medium-sized, seedless green grapes
Add flour, sugar, and salt to your food processor and mix until combined. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until you get small crumbles, about 10-15 pulses.
Add in the egg and vanilla, and pulse until it just starts to clump together into large clumps (not to the point of becoming one ball of dough). The dough should stick together without crumbling if you press it together.
On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough into one big ball, then flatten it to make a thick disk. Plastic wrap it and leave it in the fridge for an hour or so. (You could even leave it for up to a couple days).
When you are ready to prepare the tart crust, set the dough out to soften slightly before rolling it out. I found that working with the cooled dough quite quickly was key to the smoothest result. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a roughly 11-inch round, then transfer it into a 9" tart pan.
Trim the edges down to the edge of the pan. Remove any excess flour on the surface of the dough.
Wrap the tart pan with plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes. (This step helps prevent shrinking.)
Preheat oven to 375.°
Remove the plastic wrap and then cover the tart crust in aluminum foil. Fill it with evenly distributed pie weights, then bake it on the centre rack for 20 minutes.
Remove the tart crust from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Reduce the oven to 280° and remove the foil and weights from the crust.
Cut open the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds. Discard the pod.
In a saucepan, bring cream, milk, vanilla bean seeds, some freshly ground nutmeg, and strip of lemon zest to a boil.
In a large bowl, stir together the egg yolks and powdered sugar until the mix begins to lighten in colour. Pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, continuously stirring all the while. Strain the custard into another bowl. Let it sit for a few minutes, then skim any froth from the surface.
Pour the custard into your tart crust. [If you find it difficult to transport the liquid-filled crust back into the oven, just fill it to an easy-to-move level and then top it up once safely on the oven rack.] Bake the tart for 40 minutes or so until it is mostly set with just the slightest jiggle in the middle when you tap the sides.
Set the tart on a rack to cool. You can trim the edges of the crust down to the filling if they are sticking out. Cool the tart completely before decorating.
Cut the rounded edges off of each grape, then cut the remaining middle section in half. You want to have the slices be similar in thickness. Set the slices onto the tart in a ring around outer edge. You will work from the outside in. Set the second ring of slices slightly resting on the slices behind them. Continue this with the subsequent rings to get the layered effect. Set a tiny baby grape at the very centre.
Sprinkle the grapes with a dusting of superfine super. Store refrigerated until you are ready to enjoy.
Keywords: grape custard tart