This gluten-free tart is filled with a creamy lavender-vanilla custard and is topped with fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. The no-bake custard cooks in just a few minutes on the stovetop.
Be sure to try more of my gluten-free desserts including my gluten-free gluten-free fresh apple tart, and my gluten-free orange-chocolate ganache tart with an easy no-bake filling and my gluten-free lemon tart with blueberry sauce.
Custards are a mixture of milk and egg that are thickened primarily by egg yolks. Custards may be cooked in the oven, like with cheesecake, or on the stove top. Stove-top custards usually contain cornstarch to add a little extra thickening power.
The key to a stove top custard is to gradually heat the egg yolks before they’re added to the warmed milk mixture in the pot. If they are not brought up to the temperature of the milk slowly, they’ll solidify.
First you’ll warm the milk, sugar and vanilla. Then using a spoon or a ladle, slowly drizzle the warm milk into the eggs yolks while vigorously whisking them. This will heat the egg yolks slowly and gently so that once they’re added to the pot, they’ll incorporate without scrambling.
You may notice that the proportions in this custard are different than in a traditional recipe. This custard is made a little bit thicker so that it holds up better to being sliced in a tart.
Whole milk is the base for this custard. I don’t recommend using low fat or skim milk. However I have made this custard dairy-free. My favorite substitute for the milk is a vegan creamer like Nut Pods.
Egg yolks are what provide most of the thickening power in this custard. The also create a rich flavor and texture.
Cornstarch thickens this custard and makes it firm enough to work well in a tart
Dried lavender pairs so well with fresh berries. Be sure to use a dried lavender that is meant for consumption. If you buy it or pick it fresh and dry it yourself, be sure that the lavender has not been treated with any chemicals. Spicely Organics makes an excellent dried lavender. You’ll find them in little green boxes in the spice section of the grocery store.
Vanilla adds another layer of flavor to this custard and gives it a velvety mouth feel. Whole vanilla beans are traditional (and my favorite) in a custard but they are outrageously expensive these days. Vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste or vanilla powder are good alternatives. If real vanilla is not in your budget, imitation vanilla flavor will still provide good flavor.
Sugar makes this custard sweet and salt balances and enhances all the other flavors.
Gluten-Free Tart Shell (Crust)
You could definitely use a ready-made gluten free tart shell but I have not had much luck finding one. My buttery gluten-free tart crust recipe (no almond flour) has just a few ingredients and makes a buttery delicate tart shell. It can even be made ahead of time for easy assembly on the day of serving.
If you’d like to make this tart a day or two ahead, here’s the best way to do it:
- I recommend topping with the berries no more than a few hours ahead.
- The tart crust can be made (blind baked) at least 2 days ahead. Bake it, cool it, leave it in the pan and wrap snugly in plastic wrap.
- The custard can be made 2-3 days ahead of time and stored in the fridge with plastic wrap directly on top.
Gluten-Free Mixed Berry Fruit Tart
- 1 8-9 inch tart crust buttery gluten-free tart crust
- ¼ c sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1¼ c whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dried lavender see note below*
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 5-6 medium sized fresh strawberries
- 3 oz fresh blueberries
- 4 oz fresh blackberries
- 4 oz fresh raspberries
- If making my gluten-free tart crust from scratch, make it first. While it's baking and cooling, make the custard.
- Note: This custard is thicker than your average custard. Because it's in a tart that will be sliced, it works better to have it a little more firm so that it doesn't ooze out as soon as it's cut.
- In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to thoroughly beat the egg yolks with the tapioca starch and half of the sugar.
- Add the milk, remaining sugar and salt to a 1½-2 quart pot.
- Use a small, pointy knife to cut a lengthwise slit in the vanilla bean. Scrape the inside of the pod to remove the seeds and add to the milk. Throw the whole vanilla bean into the pot.
- The process of cooking the custard goes quickly so you'll need to have the following items at the stovetop ready to go:wire whisk, 1 sheet pan/cookie sheet, fine mesh strainer, ladle or serving spoon, a rubber or silicone spatula, the butter and the bowl with the egg yolk mixture.
- Place the pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk until it is warm and is just beginning to bubble around the edges (scalding).
- Turn the heat to low or if using an electric stove, remove the pot from the heat.While whisking the egg yolk mixture, use the ladle to gradually add the warm milk. Drizzle in the first ladleful. Continue whisking while adding 3 more ladlefuls of milk. It is important to whisk as you drizzle in the warm milk so the egg doesn't solidify.
- Then, while whisking the the milk in the pot, pour in the egg mixture.
- Stir in the dried lavender and butter
- Turn the heat to medium high and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and begins to thicken.
- Immediately turn the heat to low and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another 15 seconds. It may look a little lumpy at one point. Continue to whisk vigorously and it will smooth out.
- Immediately pour the custard through the fine mesh strainer onto the sheet pan. This will help it to cool quickly. Use the rubber spatula to help push it through the strainer.
- Spread the custard out in an even layer on the pan. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 2 or 3 minutes. If you let it sit much longer, the top will develop a skin.
- Cover the custard with a sheet of plastic wrap with the plastic directly on the custard. Refrigerate until it's cooled (about 15 minutes).
- See the paragraph above for make-ahead recommendations.
- When the custard and crust are both cooled, transfer the custard to the crust and spread it out in an even layer.
- Top with the berries. I recommend creating a pattern that will distribute the berries evenly around the tart so that each slice has an assortment of berries.