Did you know that the combination of black pepper and Bourbon vanilla pairs magically well with strawberries?

Today's dessert will impress you with its flavors and taste. This somehow unusual spice and fruit combination is a great choice even for special occasions!

These delicious mini tarts are filled with velvety pastry cream. They are also topped with strawberries, macerated with Bourbon vanilla and black pepper. The spiciness of the pepper complements beautifully the aromas of the fruit and vanilla. The shortbread crust contrasts nicely with the velvety texture of the pastry cream and the freshness of the fruit. These tarts are a real symphony of flavors that will find a well-deserved place at your table!

Here is how you make this chicken piccata. It has a few steps, but comes together in under an hour. First up, start with the chicken. If you’ve made chicken parmesan this is very similar. Just dredge the chicken through a mix of flour and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Then pan-sear it in a hot skillet. This allows the chicken to form a nice golden crust on the outside. Using thin chicken cutlets is key. The thin chicken cooks evenly and browns nicely in a short amount of time. Tip: if your grocery store does not carry chicken cutlets, as a swap, try asking your butcher to pound out chicken breasts for you. This is a super easy task to do at home, but truthfully…it’s just not that much fun. The butcher can quickly pound out the chicken and save you the trouble…and the mess.


For the crust:

  • ½ cup / 100 g butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 ½ cup / 200 g all purpose flour
  • ½ cup / 60 g icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • seeds from ½ vanilla pod

    For the macerated strawberries:

  • 1 lb/ 450 g fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • seeds from ½ vanilla pod
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper,freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, optional

    For the pastry cream:

  • 1 ⅔ cups / 400 ml milk, full fat
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup / 40 g starch
  • ⅓ cup / 70 g sugar
  • the empty vanilla pod

    To garnish:

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • basil leaves
  • Instructions

    Make the crust:

  • Place all ingredients for the crust in a food processor. Ideally the egg should be lightly beaten.
  • Process at a lower speed first and then at high speed, until a piece of dough is created.
  • Alternatively make the dough by hand or with a potato press.
  • Knead the dough shortly on the kitchen counter to make sure it is smooth and then wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.
  • In the meantime prepare the strawberries.

    Make the strawberries:

  • Chop about ¾ -1 cup strawberries into small pieces.Place them in a small saucepan. Add sugar, vanilla seeds, 2-3 grinds black pepper and the balsamic vinegar.
  • Place on the stove at medium heat. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes until the strawberries are soft and mixture thickens.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Puree the mixture or simply mash it with a fork until almost smooth.
  • Slice the rest of the strawberries and add them to the mixture. Mix well to cover all with the sauce and place in the fridge to macerate for 30-60 minutes.
  • Blind bake the crust:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F/ 180° С.
  • Use some more flour to roll the dough into about ⅓ inch / 8 mm thick sheet. Use your tart tins to cut round shapes from the dough. Extend them into the tins so they cover also the sides.
  • Using a fork pierce holes into the dough in the tins.
  • Cut pieces of parchment paper, a bit larger than the pastry shells, so they cover completely the dough inside. Fill the crusts with baking weights (or beans).
  • Bake for 15 minutes with the weights and then for about 20 more minutes without the weights and the paper, until golden.
  • Let the shells cool before filling them with pastry cream.

    Make the pastry cream:

  • Place the empty vanilla pod in the milk. Heat the milk on the stove until it starts simmering.
  • In the meantime whisk together the sugar and the starch. Add the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.
  • Gradually and carefully add the hot milk to the yolk mixture, whisking continuously.
  • Place the mixture on the stove again and lower the heat. Keep whisking for about 2-3 minutes on the stove, until the cream thickens.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid or with film to avoid creating a crust.
  •      To assemble:
    • Spoon some pastry cream into each tart shell to fill it until the edge. Smooth out.
    • If the cream is still hot, let it cool completely in the crust before arranging the strawberries on top.
    • Spoon some of the sauce on top of the strawberries.
    • Decorate with basil leaves and sprinkle more black pepper.

    Recipe by Daniela Lambova.