Oftentimes, I've heard the phrase, "It's just too pretty to eat." I mean, it is food after all, and meant to be eaten, right? And then I finished decorating this tart, and thought to myself, how can I cut this? It's just too pretty to eat. But, admittedly, totally worth the destruction in order to do so. This brown butter stone fruit tart is as delicious as it is beautiful. It's rich and creamy, slightly sweet, fresh and flavorful. It's the perfect end of summer tart to use up those juicy, sweet in season stone fruits.
My brown butter stone fruit tart is easy to prepare, and all the components can be made in advance and assembled before serving. Thick and silky brown butter pastry cream is spread into a crisp and crumbly sweet tart crust and topped with ripe juicy peaches, red plums and cherries. The tart is sprinkled with toasted almonds and Demerara sugar for extra crunch and sweetness right before serving. It's simple but complex in flavor from the vanilla flecked brown butter pastry cream and the combination of ripe fruits.
For the tart crust, I used my go-to Sweet Tart Crust. It's easily prepared in a food processor and bakes up beautifully golden brown. It's buttery, tender and slightly sweet - a perfect crust for holding all types of fillings. The tart crust for this recipe is baked until golden brown and cooled completely before the pastry cream is added.
How to make brown butter pastry cream
Pastry cream is similar to vanilla pudding in how it's made and it's consistency. Pastry cream is a custard, thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch, while pudding is thickened with fewer or no eggs, and cornstarch. To make the brown butter pastry cream, start by making the brown butter first, and allowing it to cool just slightly. You want it to still be warm, but not boiling hot. This will be added to the custard still warm. The milk, sugar and salt are combined in a saucepan and heated until simmering. While the milk is heating up, egg yolks, additional sugar and cornstarch are beaten together to make a thickened, homogenous mixture. Once the milk is heated, it is slowly whisked into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs. This ensures that the eggs are being heated gradually, and won't seize when cooking. Then the mixture is returned back to the saucepan to cook until bubbling and thickened.
The pastry cream is strained to catch any potential egg bits that might have cooked or curdled, and to keep it smooth and silky. The brown butter and vanilla are whisked in, and the pastry cream needs to chill for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. You want the pastry cream to be super cold before adding it to the tart crust.
Assembling the tart
Assemble the tart before serving so that any liquid from the fruit doesn't make the pastry cream watery or the tart soggy. Spread the pastry cream into the tart crust, and top with your favorite fresh stone fruits. Peaches, red plums and cherries are some of my favorites so I chose to use them here, but apricots, nectarines and blackberries (yes, they're stone fruits) would be delicious as well.
The sweet crust and the pastry cream aren't super sweet, to allow the ripe, seasonal fruit to really shine. Ripe fruit will be the sweetest and most flavorful.
Slice the peaches and plums into thin slices, and fan them out over the pastry cream in little sections. Place some pitted and halved cherries, as well as some whole, stemmed cherries on the tart, down the center, or off to the side. Sprinkle some toasted almonds to fill in any gaps. Finish the tart by sprinkling with Demerara sugar. The sugar will cause the fruit to get juicer so be sure to add the sugar just before serving.
For more fruity recipes, check out these posts:
Brown Butter Stone Fruit Tart
- 1 recipe Sweet Tart Dough, fully cooked
- ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter
- 2 cups (480ml) whole milk
- ½ cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- 3 peaches
- 3 red plums
- ½ cup (80g) cherries
- Toasted almonds, for sprinkling
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Brown Butter Pastry Cream
- Place the butter into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the butter until deep golden brown, and the butter stops popping. Set aside to cool until warm.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, salt and ¼ cup of sugar and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and egg yolks and whisk until fully mixed, about 30 seconds.
- Whisk in the cornstarch until thickened, for about a minute.
- When the milk mixture is simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully and slowly, whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
- Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking continuously until the pastry cream thickens and slow bubbles pop on the surface.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl to remove any curdled bits, and to smooth out the cream.
- Whisk in the brown butter and vanilla bean paste.
- Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap so that a skin doesn't form. Allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature.
- Chill the pastry cream in the fridge until completely chilled, about 3 hours, preferably overnight before using.
Assembling the Tart
- Assemble the tart just before serving. Slice the peaches and plums into thin slices.
- Pit and halve the cherries, leaving a few stemmed and uncut. Set aside.
- Stir the chilled pastry cream. Pour into the cooled, fully baked tart crust.
- With an offset spatula, spread the pastry cream out evenly in the tart crust.
- Place the peaches and plums over the pastry cream. Top with cherries.
- Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the tart, filling in some of the gaps where the pastry cream is can be seen.
- Sprinkle the tart with Demerara sugar. Serve immediately.