A photo in a travel brochure inspired me to create the recipe for these luscious Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts. Tarts like these are a classic in any good French patisserie. And here’s three low-carb recipes for the price of one – pastry, crème anglaise, and fruit glaze. They’re all keto, gluten-free, vegetarian, and free of add sugar and artificial sweeteners.
– 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 this recipe was seeing this tiny little picture in a Guardian (UK newspaper) travel supplement that was advertising cruises. I’m not a fan of cruises tbh. 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.
As I started deconstructing what would need to go into tarts looking like these, I figured the fruit – strawberries and blueberries – were at least already pretty low-carb. So that meant I just needed to work out how to convert these three remaining components to low-carb versions:
1. The pastry: there are many recipes kicking around for low-carb pastry. I like to use one based on almond flour. That’s partly because it’s a familiar low-carb ingredient for me and I’ve always got some in; partly because in this case I thought the nuttiness would go well with the fruit and crème (vanilla custard) in a tart; and partly because almonds are just so damn good for you. Some recipes use egg as a binder to create a roll-out pastry. But I preferred the idea of what I discovered is known in America as a ‘push-in’ pie crust. That is, a crust 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): this can be used as a pouring custard, or left to set and used cold, as I have here. Recipes for high-carb versions are usually a fairly standard formula of milk or cream, mixed with vanilla, egg yolks and sugar. 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, as I happened to have some in. But you could instead use erythritol (e.g. Sukrin, Swerve), or another low-carb sweetener.
3. Glaze for the fruit: many of the high-carb recipes for fruit glaze I could find used sugar and cornflour mixed with fruit juice. And others instead used a mixture of jam and water. I experimented a bit and found that xylitol, mixed with lemon juice, does the trick (and again, erythritol would work too). Since I’ve used no flour or gelling agent, I’m guessing my glaze 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 (natural fruit suger) e.g. kiwis, or ripe nectarines.
Nutrition count: Paul Patisserie Strawberry Tartlet vs. Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts
My Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise 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’ve written before about why I think eggs and almonds are so fantastic nutritionally. And if you’re coeliac, then of course, the substitution of almonds for wheat flour makes these Low-Carb Summer Berry Crème Anglaise Tarts gluten-free.
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 how much you use, particularly if you suffer from IBS. And you shouldn’t consume it if you’re pregnant, or give it to your pets, as its toxic to dogs. You may prefer to use erythritol – about which I also wrote a whole post. It’s not toxic to dogs, and is better tolerated by those with IBS. It also contains no calories, while xylitol does contain some, albeit fewer than sugar.
Strawberries also are high in vitamin C, manganese and anthocyanins, plus folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. Many recent scientific 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-in to the low-carb research and ethos as I have, then you no longer believe that fat is the devil. 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.I will write much more about this whole subject another time.
You probably already know that butter – and grass-fed butter in particular, with its omega 3 content – is enjoying something of a renaissance as a ‘health food’. That’s 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 by helping keep you fuller for longer, and which can also assist in increasing fat-burning.
Butter and cream also contain much fat-soluble vitamin A, essential 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/1 ¼ cups ground almonds
- 50g/¼ cup xylitol sugar substitute (or use erythritol)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 60g/¼ cup grass-fed unsalted butter, melted (I use this one)
For the Crème Anglaise/English Custard
- 400ml/1 ¾ cups 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/1/3 cup xylitol (or erythritol)
For the Glazed Fruit
- Fruit of your liking – I used around 200g/1 cup each of blueberries and strawberries
- 2tbsp xylitol (or erythritol) – or more, to taste
- Juice of half a lemon
Make the Crème Anglaise/English Custard
- 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 it in the pastry cases.
- Place the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk in the xylitol/erythritol.
- 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 if you are using vanilla essence, add that 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. (Incidentally, if you’re not making custard to make these tarts, but instead just making custard to serve hot – perhaps with my Low-Carb Rhubarb Crumble – then it is ready at this point)
- Leave the custard to cool. 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 so that the butter has 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 sufficient surface area on which to sit your fruit. (You may end up with some crème left over, which is lovely eaten in front of the TV with a spoon!).
- How you then arrange your fruit is up to you. I covered one half of each tart in blueberries (about 5), and then the other half in trimmed and quartered strawberries.
Glaze the Fruit
- Mix lemon juice and xylitol (or erythritol) 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 to use enough to coat the fruit. But, Bake Off fans, 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 the tarts, covered, for about an hour, to allow the glaze to set. (For this purpose, I carefully lifted the tarts 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.