The strawberry tarts in Aunt Dimity and the Duke are exactly the sort of thing young Lady Eleanor Harris would relish. Like Nell, they're sweet, complicated, and terribly English.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes 8 tarts.
8 3 1/2-inch tart tins, greased
3 1/2-inch fluted pastry cutter
3/4 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup superfine sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
1 medium egg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup cold milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 pound strawberries
4 tablespoons seedless strawberry jelly
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
Sift flour and salt onto work surface. Make a well in the center; add sugar, butter, and egg yolks; work them together until all the flour is worked in. Add a few drops of water if necessary to bind the mixture. Knead until smooth, then wrap in foil and refrigerate for one hour.
Roll out on lightly floured surface. Use pastry cutter to cut out eight circles. Arrange these in the pastry tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, until pale gold. Turn out to cool.
Cream egg and sugar, add flour, and stir to a paste with a few drops of the cold milk. Warm the rest of the milk, then slowly stir it into the egg mixture. Slowly heat mixture until it boils, then cook it for a few more minutes. Remove from heat; allow to cool. Whip the cream until stiff, then beat it into the cooled mixture. Spoon a generous portion of cream mixture into each of the pastry shells.
In the center of each tart, plant a whole hulled strawberry, point upward. Hull and halve the rest of the strawberries and arrange the halves around the whole strawberry to cover the rest of the filling. Heat the jelly with the water and use it to paint the strawberries, then sprinkle with coconut.
Reprinted from AUNT DIMITY AND THE DUKE by Nancy Atherton by permission of Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc. Copyright 1994 by Nancy T. Atherton. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.