Roasted Strawberry Custard Tarts

Adapted from a recipe by Donna Hay

from Donna Hay Dining

Makes 8

2x sheets ready rolled puff pastry, thawed

for custard filling

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons cornflour

2 egg yolks

1x vanilla bean

for strawberry topping

1x punnet strawberries

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as cointreau (I used "44")

To make the custard filling, put sugar and water into a small saucepan, set over low heat, and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase heat until syrup is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Place cornflour in a medium sized bowl, and add just enough of the milk to mix the cornflour to a smooth paste.  Once completely dissolved, slowly add the remainder of the milk, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the egg yolks.  Slowly pour in the sugar syrup, again making sure that you whisk constantly to avoid curdling the eggs.

Return everything to the saucepan.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and add both seeds and bean to the saucepan.  Set pan over gentle heat, and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl.  Allow to cool slightly, then cover the surface of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap - this will avoid a skin forming on the surface of the custard.  Now leave to cool completely.  (You could easily do this a day in advance.)

To make the tarts, preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F), and lightly grease a muffin or patty tin.  Cut pastry into 10cm (4 inch) circles, and use to line the muffin or patty tins.  Spoon custard into the pastry shells, no more than 2/3 full.  Bake in the preheated oven until the custard is golden and firm - about 20 minutes, depending on the depth of your tins and filling.  Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing tarts from the tin and leaving on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry topping.  Cut strawberries in half (or quarters if they are very large), and place in an ovenproof dish which is only just big enough to fit all the strawberries snugly but in a single layer.  Drizzle over the honey, pomegranate molasses and orange liqueur, and stir gently to combine everything.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F), until the strawberries have softened slightly, but still retaining their shape, and juices have begun to run and become syrupy.  Remove from oven and cool completely.

To complete the tarts, arrange two or three pieces of strawberry in the centre of each tart and drizzle over a little of the strawberry syrup.  Serve immediately.