A photo in a travel brochure inspired me to create the recipe for these luscious Low-Carb Gluten-Free Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts. Similar tarts are a classic in any good French patisserie. And here’s 3 low-carb recipes for the price of one – pastry, crème anglaise, and fruit glaze.
– Recipe for Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts
– Nutrition Count: Paul Patisserie Strawberry Tartlets vs. Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts
– Health Impact of the Ingredients
Indulge me please, I’m really really pleased with this one. My inspiration for today’s recipe was seeing this tiny little picture in a Guardian travel supplement advertising cruises. I’m not a fan of cruises, but I WANTED those tarts! So I decided to come up with a recipe for my own low-carb version, and this is the result.
Deconstructing what would need to go into tarts looking like these, strawberries and blueberries are already pretty low-carb – so I figured I just needed to work out how to convert the remaining three components to low-carb versions:
1. The pastry: there are many recipes kicking around for low-carb pastry. I liked the versions that use almond flour – partly because it’s a familiar low-carb ingredient for me and I’ve always got some in; partly because I thought the nuttiness would go well with the fruit and crème in a tart; and partly because almonds are just so damn good for you. Some recipes use egg to bind for a roll-out pastry. But I liked the idea of what I discovered was known in America as a ‘push-in’ pie crust – that is, one that allows you to push the pastry straight into the tart tins without having to roll it out first. So one fiddly step fewer, and no waste.
2. The crème anglaise (vanilla cream custard): the recipe for this is a fairly standard formula of milk or cream, mixed with vanilla, egg yolks and sugar. It can be used as a pouring custard, or left to set and used cold, as I have here. Because I wanted to create a low-carb recipe, I decided to use double cream instead of carbier milk, and to substitute xylitol for the sugar.
3. Glaze for the fruit: many of the high-carb recipes for fruit glaze I could find use sugar and corn flour mixed with fruit juice, and others instead use a mixture of jam and water. I experimented a bit and found that my old favourite xylitol, mixed with lemon juice, does the trick. Since I’ve used no flour or gelling agent, I’m guessing it might be a bit runnier than a high-carb version, but just look at the lovely shininess of that fruit!!
And the tart I came up with tastes pretty amazing too – a gorgeous combination of sweet, nutty pastry, cool crème anglaise, and fresh summer fruits. And obviously, you could play around with which fruits you use. Try raspberries if that’s your thing, or if you’re not so bothered about the carb count, use your favourite fruit that is a bit higher in fructose e.g. kiwis, or ripe nectarines.
Nutrition count: Paul Patisserie Strawberry Tartlet vs. Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts
My low-carb tarts are less than a tenth of the carbs of a strawberry tartlet bought from Paul’s Patisserie – which I thought was a fair enough shop-bought comparison. You also save 53 calories.
The fat content in the low-carb tart is higher, because much of the carbohydrate in a traditional tart has been replaced with healthy fats.
|Per 1 individual tart||Paul Patisserie Tartelette Fraise (Strawberry Tartlet)||Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts*|
|Net Carbs (i.e. minus polyols in xylitol – read my explanation here)||49||4|
* Figures calculated for a batch of tarts made with 100g strawberries and 100g blueberries, using verified product information on the MyFitnessPal database
Health Impacts of the Ingredients
I also recently wrote a whole post about the pros and cons of xylitol as a sugar substitute. I use it regularly, so obviously I think it’s pretty good. The main thing is that having too much might have a laxative effect – so you have to watch it particularly if you suffer from IBS. And you shouldn’t consume it if you’re pregnant, or give it to your pets.
If you choose to use blueberries, then, as I’ve said before, and I’m sure you know already, they’re fantastic nutritionally – being high in fibre, vitamin K, vitamin C, manganese and potentially antioxidant anthocyanins.
Strawberries also are high in vitamin C, manganese and anthocyanins, plus folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. A plethora of recent studies and reviews have linked their consumption to prevention of inflammatory diseases e.g. arthritis; reduction in obesity, diabetes and heart disease risk; and protection against neurological disorders and some types of cancer.
But aaah, what about cream and butter, I hear you ask? Aren’t dairy products and saturated fats bad for you? Well, if you’ve bought into the low-carb research and ethos as I have, then you no longer believe that fat is the devil. I will write much more about this whole subject another time. Certainly it’s interesting that a review in 2013, and a 16-year prospective study of 1,529 Australian adults published in 2010, showed no association between intake of dairy products and mortality associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, they even hinted at potential benefits, and an inverse association with obesity, which need more research.
You will know that grass-fed butter in particular, with its omega 3 content, is enjoying something of a renaissance as a health food, especially as we’ve learned more about the health damaging effects of trans fats in the margarine alternatives. Many recent studies have debunked the hypothesis that saturated fat is linked to heart disease e.g. as it actually raises HDL (good) cholesterol. Plus butter contains short and medium chain fatty acids which help with portion control, in helping keep you fuller for longer, and can also assist to increase fat-burning.
Butter and cream also contain a lot of fat-soluble vitamin A for eye and skin health. And butter is particularly rich in fat-soluble vitamin K2, which is often lacking in a modern diet. It aids calcium metabolism, and therefore in turn helps promote good bone health and to guard against osteoporosis.
Recipe: Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts
Makes around 12 tarts
Prep: 25 mins (plus chilling time)
Cooking: 20 mins
Special equipment: Baking tin for 12 shallow tarts
For the Pastry
- 150g ground almonds
- 50g xylitol sugar substitute
- ¼ tsp salt
- 60g grass-fed unsalted butter, melted (I use this one)
For the Crème Anglaise
- 400ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise (or if you can’t get one, ½-1 tsp vanilla essence, to taste)
- 6 large egg yolks
- 40g xylitol
For the Glazed Fruit
- Fruit of your liking – I bought a small punnet each of blueberries and strawberries
- 2tbsp xylitol (or more, to taste)
- Juice of half a lemon
Make the Crème Anglaise
- You can make the crème anglaise up to a day ahead if you wish. Either way, it needs to be cooked and chilled before using in the pastry cases.
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in the xylitol.
- In a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in the cream. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape the seeds out into the cream. Or add vanilla essence to taste.
- On a medium heat, bring the cream mixture to just below the boil, being careful not to allow it to boil fully.
- Take the pan off the heat and add around a ladleful of the warm cream to the egg yolk and xylitol mixture, and whisk it in quickly to temper the eggs.
- Pour this mixture back into the pan with the rest of the cream and mix quickly so all is combined.
- Over a medium heat again, cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and and coats the back of the spoon.
- Leave to cool and then chill the mixture for at least two hours to allow it to solidify.
Make the Pastry
- Preheat the oven to a low setting – 160°C/Fan 140°C/Gas 3/325°F.
- If your tart tin isn’t non-stick, grease it with a little butter.
- Mix together xylitol, ground almonds and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add melted butter and stir well until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Put heaped tablespoons into each tart pan. Press it firmly into the bottom with your fingers and work it up the sides. I used a flat-bottomed shot glass to press and even out the bottom. Add more pastry mixture as necessary until there is a good layer at the bottom and up the sides of the individual tart moulds.
- Prick the tart cases all over with a fork.
- Bake the tart cases in the middle of the oven for around 20 minutes until they are golden brown.
- Leave the tart cases to cool in their tins. You want them properly cold before you attempt to take them out.
Assemble the Tarts
- When you’re ready to assemble the tarts, carefully edge the cold pastry cases out of the tin with a knife and place on a plate. NB. you might think they look too crumbly, but if you’ve left them to get properly cold and the butter to reset, then they should be fine and should not break up.
- Add a big dollop of crème anglaise to each pastry case. How much you use is a matter of preference, but I suggest that you want enough to create a bit of a dome for surface area for more fruit. (You may end up with some crème left over, and I have no guilt in saying that when I have done, I’ve eaten it – full of low-carb virtue – in front of the TV with a spoon).
- How you then arrange your fruit is up to you. I covered one half in blueberries (about 5) and the other half in trimmed and quartered strawberries.
Glaze the Fruit
- Mix lemon juice and xylitol in a small microwaveable bowl.
- Microwave for 20 seconds and stir.
- If the xylitol hasn’t melted, put the mixture back in the microwave for a further 10 seconds. Stir again.
- Once the glaze has cooled, spread it over the fruit using a pastry brush. You want enough to coat the fruit, but take care not to drench them if you don’t want soggy bottoms (but tbh I did that the first time and they still tasted fabulous, which is the main thing!).
- Chill, covered, for about an hour, to allow the glaze to set. (For this purpose, I carefully lifted them into a plastic box with a lid).
- The flavours are then at their best if the tarts are taken out of the fridge around 20 minutes before serving so that the crème and fruit are not over-cold.