I really love the idea of going to an orchard and picking your own fruits and vegetables. There’s an orchard out in Maryland that has pick your own fruits and veggies almost year-round. A few weekends ago, I went with a couple of friends, and one friend’s three kids to pick strawberries. It’s the perfect activity for kids. It’s outdoors, they can play in the dirt, and they really feel a sense of accomplishment when they pick out the perfect strawberry. While the kiddos filled up little blue cartons, I went ahead and picked enough strawberries to last at least 6 months. I may have gone a little overboard. All I could think about were all the strawberry desserts I was going to make with all these strawberries. Needless to say, I ended up freezing most of them before they started to go bad… but not without making Strawberry Eshta Cream Tarts.
Eshta is a sweet thick cream known to most middle eastern households. Lots of people use eshta in desserts such as qatayef, warbat, basboosa, and many others. While eshta is absolutely delicious in desserts, it’s a great compliment to honey. Sunday breakfasts at our house included lots of little dishes filled with labaneh, zaatar, foul (fava beans), and two mall dishes one with honey and one with eshta. I remember the excitement of dipping bread into the eshta first and then the honey. Honestly, I thought I could live off eshta and honey forever. That was … until dinnertime when I wanted nothing more than rice and stew.
So after spending the afternoon with my friends and the kiddos, I went straight home to wash and dry the strawberries, and test out my dessert of course!
The trick to these tarts was figuring out how I was going to thicken the eshta enough to hold strawberries on a slab of puff pastry. I admit, I had a couple failures. At first, I tried beating the eshta in my stand mixer, hoping it would magically fluff up. It didn’t. Then I got to thinking about how I thicken up milk for Muhallabiyeh. Idea! Why not add corn starch?! The genius in me added corn starch to cold eshta. That didn’t quite work out the way I had imagined. Then it dawned on me (oh yea, and I read the instructions on the corn starch package) that I needed to heat the eshta with the corn starch and stir to get the consistency I wanted. Ladies and gentlemen, it worked and I couldn’t have been happier! Now my dreams of making Strawberry Eshta Cream Tarts was coming true.
It just goes to show you that, even as a food blogger, I have my fair share of almost and complete fails. No one’s perfect, but I can definitely whip up a near-perfect dessert.
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 2 lbs strawberries, stems cut off
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cup water
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 4 cans Eshta
- 2 tablespoons Corn Starch
- 2 tablespoons Rose Water
- 4 tablespoons crushes pistachios
- Honey for drizzling
- Thaw Puff Pastry
- Cut the puff pastry sheet into three smaller pieces
- Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 400 F
- Once cooled, cut each puff pastry piece in half length wise, making 6 tart shells. Set aside
- Wash and dry the strawberries. If using small strawberries, you can use them whole, otherwise, slice your strawberries
- Glaze the strawberries by combining the sugar, corn syrup and water in a medium pan over medium-high heat
- Bring to a boil
- Once boiling, immerse the strawberries in the sugar and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the strawberries and place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, sprayed with cooking spray
- In a small saucepan, mix together the eshta, rose water and cornstarch until combined. Heat over low-medium heat and stir constantly until the eshta thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Slice the puff pastry in half
- Spoon the eshta onto the puff pastry and use a spatula to make an even layer
- Then carefully arrange strawberries on top of the eshta, placing each piece as close as possible to the next without overcrowding
- Top with crushed pistachios and drizzle with honey.