Category Archives: Tarte Tropézienne

Making Tarte Tropézienne

Tarte Tropézienne is nominally French, but the thick stripe of rich cream filling through the center betrays its northern European origins. Say what you will about the French and their love of dairy products, they seldom go hog wild with cream the way Poles and Germans will, bless them. Because let’s face it, excess can be a beautiful thing. Or so says an American.

Start your “tart” by preheating your oven to 375. Take the brioche dough out of the refrigerator and put it down on a well-floured board.

Roll it out to a thickness of about half an inch, then apply an 8″ round form of some sort to the dough. A pot lid works beautifully.

Trim around it with a pizza cutter.

Does it need to be perfect? No.

Try not to make it more than about so thick…as I said, half an inch or so.

Paint on some egg wash…

…and let it rise until it’s about doubled in thickness. Anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending the weather.

Apply a little more egg wash and put the dough round in the oven until it’s a deep brown, about 20-25 minutes. Allow it to cool completely. This can sit for up to a day, uncut, at room temperature if you wish.

Now for the filling. I was worried about this step because it was 95 in the shade yesterday and our air conditioning is broken. However the buttercream came together perfectly. The trick is to make sure all the ingredients are at the same temperature and whip, whip, whip. But I digress. Fold the pastry cream and buttercream together.

Then stir in your flavorings. I left out the kirsch this time and substituted a teaspoon of orange extract for the orange flower water.

Now for the whipped cream. I confess I had some trouble at this point. The cream was cold — it had to be — and the pastry cream/buttercream combo was about 90. As I folded the two together the mixture broke and soon had a very rough, curdled look to it. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of that, I was too busy panicking. The tart was due at a picnic within an hour.

The rule with butter emulsions like buttercream is: when in doubt, whip. This filling is more like a buttercream than it is a pastry cream, so I plopped the whole mess into the mixer, attached the whip, turned it to medium-high and fifteen seconds later it was perfectly smooth and silky. Next time I think I’ll skip the uncertainty of folding in the whipped cream and just whip the pastry cream/buttercream mixture into it while it’s still in the mixer bowl.

But now for assembly. Slice the brioche horizontally with a serrated knife. Take your time with this step. I like to cut in around the edge — not deeply at first — just to get my line, then keep rotating the brioche, steadily cutting deeper until the top is separated.

Open ‘er up…

…and apply a mound of filling. You can also pipe this if you wish, using a coupler with a broad tip (or no tip at all).

Spread it out into a thick, roughly 3/4″ layer.

Put the top back on…

…and dust it with powdered sugar.

The tart can be served immediately or kept in the refrigerator for up to a day.

If you refrigerate it, be sure to take it out of the fridge at least half an hour ahead of time to allow the filling to soften. Slice it slowly with a serrated knife: cut it in half first, then gently shave off pieces of whatever size you wish. I recommend small ones served with fresh fruit.

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Tarte Tropézienne Recipe

A tarte Tropézienne is basically a big cream bun…not a tart at all. But who knows how these things get their names? A tarte Tropézienne is almost always made with brioche, but the fillings can vary. Supposedly the creator of this pastry was very secretive about his filling recipe, so pastry makers have used just about everything over the years trying to copy it. Pastry cream, buttercream, crème chiboust (pastry cream plus meringue), crème diplomat (pastry cream plus whipped cream and gelatin), and crème mousseline (pastry cream plus butter) are variously used. Me, I like Pierre Hermé’s take on the filling: a combo of whipped cream, pastry cream and buttercream. Yeah, I don’t think the bikini babes on the beaches of St. Tropez eat too much of this.

Toppings vary widely as well. I’ve seen everything from streusel to sliced almonds to pearl sugar, but I think a simple dusting of powdered sugar is all a good tarte Tropézienne really needs. The recipe goes like this:

For the “tart”:

1 recipe brioche dough

Prepare the brioche according to instructions. Roll the finished dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch, then trim it into a disk about 8 inches in diameter. Put the disk on a parchment-lined baking sheet and paint it with egg wash. Allow it to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until puffy. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375. When the brioche has risen, paint it again with egg wash and bake it for 12-15 minutes until golden. Allow it to cool completely before using.

For the filling:

1 3/4 cups buttercream
1 cup pastry cream (the bottom recipe)
1 tablespoon orange flower water (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch (optional)
1 1/3 cups heavy cream

Fold the buttercream and pastry cream together. Stir in the orange flower water and kirsch if you’re using them. Lastly whip the cream to stiff peaks and either fold it into the buttercream mixture or whip the buttercream mixture into it in the mixer. I favor the latter technique, since it takes minimal time. Add about a third of the buttercream mixture at a time and whip for about ten seconds per addition.

To assemble:

Slice the cooled brioche horizontally into two pieces. Apply the filling (pipe it in if you wish) and put on the top. Serve immediately or refrigerate it for up to a day. Remove it from the refrigerator a minimum of half an hour before serving. When ready to serve, dust the top with powdered sugar. Slice it at the table.

Filed under:  Tarte Tropézienne | 8 Comments