Corn Cardamom Custard Tart
This is a versatile custard that I can bake as a tart or a pie — or skip the pastry entirely and bake in a ramekin. Roasting the corn kernels amplifies its sweetness and introduces a tiny hint of caramelization that pairs well with the cool cardamom infused into the custard.
Makes one 9-inch tart
¼ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Seeds from 2 green cardamom pods, ground (see Note)
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting the pan
¾ cup medium-grind cornmeal
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 cups sweet corn kernels, frozen or fresh (about 4 corn cobs)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup whole milk
½ cup creme fraiche
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Seeds from 3 green cardamom pods, ground
½ cup sugar
4 large egg yolks
Make the dough: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and lightly grease a 9-inch tart shell using a pastry brush. Dust the greased pan with 1 tablespoon of flour, shaking off any excess.
Place the ¼ cup of butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at low speed for 7 to 8 minutes, stopping the mixer at 1-minute intervals to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The mixture will be whitish in color when done.
Add the egg and cardamom to the bowl and continue to mix on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour, cornmeal and salt and mix on low speed until combined for about 1 to 1½ minutes. Remove the dough and transfer to the center of the prepared tart pan. Place a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the surface of the dough and, using your fingers or a small flat bowl, spread the dough to cover the inside of the pan and sides. Refrigerate the tart for at least 1 hour. This can also be prepared a day ahead, wrapped in plastic film and refrigerated.
Make the custard: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the corn with the oil, spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 12 to 15 minutes until the kernels start to brown a little. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Add the milk and blend on high speed for a few seconds until just smooth. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl to remove any last bits of corn, pressing with a spoon to extract as much liquid as you can. Discard the solids left behind in the sieve. Whisk the creme fraiche into the liquid corn mixture to combine evenly.
Melt the butter in a large thick-bottom saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the cardamom and cook for 30 seconds until you just start to smell the aroma. Remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the sugar and the yolks until smooth. Return the saucepan to the stove and continue to stir while adding the corn mixture. Stir constantly, about 15 minutes, scraping the sides of the saucepan, until the mixture is thickened. The custard is ready when a finger run across the back of a spoon coated in the liquid leaves a clear trail.
Remove the parchment from the chilled tart shell and fill the shell with pie beads or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Remove the tart pan from the oven. Remove the beads and pour the warm custard into the center of the pan. Return it to the oven and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the custard starts to firm up and jiggles slightly in the center but is no longer liquid. Resist the urge to overbake the custard or it can crack. Remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours or until room temperature. You can also chill the tart in the refrigerator overnight before serving. Using a sharp serrated knife to cut slices.
Note: Cardamom is available in two distinct varieties, and they cannot be used interchangeably in most cases. The larger black pod with a camphor-like scent is usually used in savory preparations, while the much smaller green pod smells more mintlike and nutty and is used to season both sweet and savory dishes. Inside the tiny pod are tiny seeds that are usually crushed using a mortar and pestle or a spice mill to help extract the essential oils trapped inside. Because cardamom creates a cooling sensation, it works extremely well in desserts like ice creams and pastries, especially those that are served cool or at room temperature.