Custard Square with Homemade Puff Pastry


 
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.
The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.

Happy New Year! I hope you and yours celebrated somehow, and that the start of the year has been good to you so far. We kept things pretty quiet around here - celebrated with some friends at a bar. We took a tiny bit of time off from the studio, but still somehow found ourselves working right after new year's day. I did take a little baking hiatus however - the pre-christmas rush really knocked me around a little, so it was nice to just hide from the internet a little. I made a couple of batches of cookies - Sarah Kieffer's famous pan banging numbers (forever dubbed FOMO cookies), and then Alison Roman's Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread which were also AMAZING in a totally different way. I also made a buttload of new dinner recipes - my new fave thing is to follow a recipe at the end of the day. Someone else making the decisions about what I am making and how I am making it is super relaxing. 

And then I started to get a little twitchy - I hadn't picked up my camera for a solid two weeks (and of course all the cards were full, and the battery was flat), and I had been DYING to try making puff pastry for the longest time, and I figured it was something that would need documenting. So I kick-started back with a recipe which was a combination of following a recipe (Erin Mcdowell's amazing puff pastry), and putting my own spin on an old fave, and landed here with this custard square recipe. 

From the response on IG stories, most people either love love love custard square, or have never heard of it. I fall squarely in the love love love camp - it was one of my favourite things growing up, They tended to be made with a greasy pastry and a bouncy yellow custard (unless you got a Denheath one, which I would pay serious money to have, RIGHT NOW), and even then were so amazing. The best bakery treat, and super satisfying to make at home yourself.

Custard square is a love story of three elements which are amazing alone, but come together to create actual magic. We start with flaky puff pastry - you can use store bought, but I chose to give making my own a try, and realised it was surprisingly easy. The pastry is baked between two baking trays to avoid extreme puffiness. Once it is cooled and trimmed, one piece is placed in a lined baking tin, and covered with a creamy vanilla bean custard. A second piece of pastry gets placed on top, and the whole thing goes for a nap in the fridge to set up. Once cooled, it is covered in a vanilla bean glaze (aka a fancy version of that shitty icing we all grew up on), and carefully sawed into squares. The combination of crispy pastry, creamy smooth custard and sweet icing is one of the greatest things ever. 

A few wee tips:

  • You can absolutely use store bought puff pastry in this recipe. - you will need about two sheets. Just make sure it is rolled out to a square about 12"x12" so that you have enough to fill the tin - it shrinks a lot when baked. I do encourage you to try making your own - I promise it is much less scary than it looks!
  • Bear in mind that if you use a different puff recipe or bought pastry, it may require a different baking time. 
  • If you use a different pastry recipe, you will need approximately 700g dough.
  • I made Erin Mcdowell's pastry from her new book (which is amazing and you need). There is a chocolate version here. Erin does an amazing job of explaining here, so if you need visual pointers it's a great place to look! 
  • Make sure that you allow time - it takes 2-3 hours (lots of this is waiting) to make the pastry, then the custard square ideally should cool overnight.
  • I found that when making my own pastry, obsessively squaring off the edges helped, along with measuring the temperature of the butter and the dough before I started the folds to ensure that they were a similar temperature. 
  • You only use half of the puff in the recipe here - the rest freezes perfectly for use in another project. 
  • You can get custard powder in supermarkets, or online
 

 

Custard Square 

- Makes about 16 -

Pastry Recipe, with permission, from The Fearless Baker

Puff Pastry
Butter Block
453g (1 lb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
71g (2/3 cup) Bread Flour

Dough
397 (3 3/13 cups) bread flour
198g (1 2/3 cups) All-purpose flour
6g (1 1/2 tsp) fine sea salt
113g (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (optional)
287g (1 cup plus 3 Tbsp) cool water

Vanilla Bean Custard
720ml (3 cups) whole milk
480ml (2 cups) heavy cream
1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of Salt
65g (1/2 cup) custard powder
200g (1 cup) sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Icing
375g (3 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
45g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
whole milk to mix (a few tablespoons)

 

- PROCESS -

PUFF PASTRY

Cut a piece of parchment paper so it measures approximately 13 x 18 inches. (I use pre-cut sheets which are this size). Position with the short side facing you. 

In a medium bowl, place the butter and flour. Mix vigorously using a silicone spatula. Spread onto the bottom third of the parchment paper, and use an offset spatula to spread into a rectangle 6"x9", and 1/2" thick. Carefully square off the edges. Wrap in the parchment paper, and place in the fridge to firm up. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Add the butter and vanilla, and mix on low until the butter is fully incorporated into the mixture. Add the water, and mix until a dough forms, 5-6 minutes. Increase the speed, and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and pat into a rectangle with your hands. Wrap in the plastic and rest in the refrigerator for 40-50 minutes. 

Once the butter and the dough are a similar temperature (16˚c / 60˚f to 21˚c / 70˚f), remove both from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle 12" x 10", taking time to carefully measure, and squaring off the edges using a bench scraper if necessary. (This will make doing the folding much, much easier). Orient the rectangle so that the short side is facing you. 

Using the paper as a guide, peel back half of the parchment on the butter, and place on the bottom half of the dough, leaving a 1/2" margin around the edges. Fold the top half of the dough down over the butter block, pressing firmly around the edges to seal, and tuck any excess dough underneath the block. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and rest in the refrigerator for approximately 30 minutes. 

Turn #1: 4-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge, and unwrap. On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle that is 13" wide and 19" long. If it is too warm and is becoming sticky, return to the fridge for a little more rest time. If it is too hard, allow to sit at room temp to soften a little. 30 minutes worked well for each rest time for me. Square off the edges. Turn the dough so a long edge is facing you. Take the left edge of the dough, and fold 3/4 of the way across the dough, lining up the edges. Fold the right edge to meet the left, about 1/4 of the way across. Fold the dough in half, left side over right. Transfer to the baking sheet, brush off extra flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest for another 30 minutes.

Turn #2: 3-fold

Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, repeat the rolling process - roll to 13" x 19", and square the edges. Turn so a long edge is facing you. Fold the left side of the dough 1/3 of the way across, then fold the right side of the dough over the left (so you have 3 layers of dough). Place on the baking sheet, brush off flour, cover and refrigerate. Rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #3: 4-fold

Repeat the process for a 4-fold as explained above, taking care to square the edges. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Turn #4: 3-fold

This is your final fold. Roll out, square off, and repeat the instructions for a 3-fold above. Cover, and rest for 30 minutes. 

At this stage the dough is ready to be used - cut in half, and store the dough either wrapped tightly in the fridge (you will use one half for the custard square and you can keep the rest for another project), or in the freezer. 

To make the pastry sheets, preheat the oven to 180c / 350˚f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take 700g of the prepared pastry (one half of the recipe above), and divide the piece into two. Wrap half in plastic and place in the fridge until needed - you will do this in two batches. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the first piece of pastry into a square that measures 11" square - this allows for shrinkage. Place onto the prepared baking sheet, and top with a second piece of parchment paper, then place a second baking sheet on top, to help prevent rising.

Place the baking sheets in the oven, and place something heavy such as a cast iron skillet on top of the second baking sheet. Bake the pastry for approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the top baking sheet, and parchment paper, and bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheet, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Repeat the process with the second piece of pastry. Using a sharp knife and the tin you are planning on using as a guide, trim the pastry squares so that they are the same size as your tin (I used a 9" square tin). Set aside until ready to assemble. 

 

VANILLA BEAN CUSTARD

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, place the milk, cream, vanilla paste and salt. Heat over medium heat, until it is very hot to the touch and just shy of a simmer. 

Meanwhile, while the milk is heating, place the custard powder and sugar in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, and whisk until well combined and slightly pale in colour. 

Once the milk mixture has heated, remove it from the heat, and, whisking constantly, pour half of it into the egg mixture. Whisk well to combine, before adding the rest of the milk and whisking very well. Wash and dry the saucepan, and return to the stove. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan, and place over low to medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter a small piece at a time, whisking to incorporate before adding the next piece. 

Use immediately for assembly. 

 

ASSEMBLY

Line a 9" square tin with two sheets of baking paper, extending over the sides of the tin to act as a 'sling'. Place the first piece of puff pastry in the bottom of the tin, trimming slightly to make it fit if needed. 

Pour the hot custard over the top of the puff pastry, and smooth with an offset spatula. Place the second piece of pastry on top, pressing down lightly to ensure there are no air bubbles. Cover the tin with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to set for at least 3-4 hours, or up to overnight. 

Once the custard has set, carefully use the parchment paper to remove the custard square from the tin, and place on a chopping board or large plate. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using an electric mixer, combine the sifted powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla bean paste until fluffy. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until a spreadable consistency has been reached. 

Spread the icing over the surface of the custard square, then place briefly in the fridge to allow the icing to set. 

Once the icing has set, cut into 16 squares using a bread knife which has been run under cold water and then wiped. Use a careful sawing motion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Best served slightly cold, on the day or the day after they are made. 

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 

The perfect custard square - sheets of crisp flaky pastry sandwich a creamy rich vanilla bean custard. The whole thing is then loaded up with a vanilla bean glaze. This is a delicious take on a classic New Zealand childhood favourite.

A little 2017 Round-up


 

Ok. So I'm very ready for 2017 to be over. It was one of the best years of my life, but I am more than ready to face the next one. I always feel a little lost in this weird 'between christmas and new year' time, which could be due to the fact that it's not going to crack zero degrees all week, so we have been having some serious inside time. The last few months have been crazy for us both business wise and blog wise, so I have taken this week to not do much at all. I haven't baked, aside from the banana bread in the oven as I write this, which was necessary as I was worried the brown bananas were going to start eating the plate they were sitting on. 

I thought that seeing this is the first year I have actually had the blog for the entirety of the year, I would take the chance to do a little round-up! It's been an insane year growth wise for little old me in my little corner of the internet. When I started this blog a year and a half ago as a little sanity project, I never, EVER imagined that it would grow to where it is today - just in this year alone I was nominated for a blog award (!!!), had my first magazine contribution published (and was on cover of said magazine!), gone on press trips, met so many other amazing bloggers, and worked with some amazing companies. I taught myself so many new techniques, fell in love with my sourdough starter Eunice, and collaborated with some amazing people on some amazing projects. This year has been nuts, and I can't wait to do it all again next year.

Special mention to Jill, as always, for being my home base, my stand in Mum when I need a dose of reality and my own is too far away to give me a rally rally, and for taking Rich and I into their family. At the start of this year I was hideously homesick and ready to move back to New Zealand straight away. Establishing a home base and people that feel like home over here in this crazy city have made all the difference and I couldn't be more grateful. Not to mention that collaborating with Jill always results in the most delicious creations. Now all I have to do is find a way to teleport all my NZ family to the States whenever I need them, and we will be all set to go! There are hopefully a few exciting things on the horizon - we are hoping to start looking seriously at buying a house in New Zealand so that we have something to go back to when we do move, a concept which is so exciting that sometimes I can't get to sleep at night. All I want is some grass, a couple of chickens, and a lemon tree. 

This year was also amazing in terms of growth of our business. We took on 5 new staff, designed a whole lot of new things (I am particularly obsessed with the constellation range, and the new executive objects stuff), and nailed down a bunch of exciting things for next year. I am always so grateful that I get to work alongside Richard - he is so insanely talented, and I honestly would rather be nowhere else than running a crazy cloud factory. 

I also became a fully fledged crazy cat woman, realising how rewarding fostering can be. We opened our home to loads of fur babies this year, and while saying goodbye is always bittersweet, I can't wait to see how many we can give the greatest little kick start next year too. If you have a spare room / space in your bathroom or home / a little extra time, please consider fostering. It helps animals that would otherwise be put down, you get all the fluffy hugs, and it's great instagram story content. Trust me. ;)

I also just wanted to take the chance to say a HUGE thank you to you guys! I honestly would be nowhere if it wasn't for all the feedback, comments, follows, votes, etc that I am somehow lucky enough to receive. It makes my day on the regular when I get feedback from somebody trying my recipes, so please keep tagging me, messaging photos and leaving comments, because it makes every little second and every giant kitchen mess worthwhile. 

So here we are! These are the top five most popular recipes from this year! The usual suspects were in there (turns out you guys love s'mores themed things just as much as I do!), plus I have tacked a few of my personal faves on at the end, just for good measure. If you do have any requests, or things you would like to see more of this coming year. I have made it a little goal of mine to share more savoury recipes on here - I have been playing around with a few things lately and always forget how fun they are to make too! 

Happy New Year to you and yours, I hope however you celebrated was amazing, and I wish you a safe and happy 2018! 

Erin xx 

 

 
Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

Honey Lavender Cake with Vanilla German Buttercream and Lavender Ganache Drip

This little number always holds a special spot in my heart - it was the top tier of our wedding cake. If you haven't had German buttercream before I highly recommend - it is custard based, not too buttery, you can infuse it with anything, and it's the best ever. 

Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

Espresso Honey S'mores

These were a fave from a baking day with Jill - we made an espresso graham cracker, and sandwiched a fluffy honey marshmallow between. Loads of you guys made this this year, and they all looked amazing! 

Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

Earl Grey Buns

If you can infuse it, I'm probably going to attempt to put earl grey in in. I wanted to do a slightly different twist on the cinnamon bun, so went for an infused dough, filled with an earl grey sugar, and finished with an earl grey glaze. Tastes like a cup of tea, but with carbs. 

Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

S'mores Tart

This was one of my favourite things I made this year, and also one of the tastiest. Brown butter graham cracker crust, silky dark chocolate filling and torched vanilla bean marshmallow. That is all. 

Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

One Bowl Devil's Food Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

This year one of my baking heroes, Stella Parks released her book, and it is AMAZING. This cake is from the book, and is also AMAZING. Make the cake. Get the book. 

Cloudy Kitchen 2017 top five recipes

Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream Pops

These guys didn't quite make the top five but I think they need a mention as they are hands down one of the most amazing things I have ever made. Lemon curd ice cream, pie crumbs, and a torched meringue situation. It's lemon meringue pie, but in a popsicle. 

Thats all from me! Happy New Year! x

Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream 


 
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.
Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.

My goodness. We made it. Well, I made it anyway. The last couple of months have been totally hectic in the lead up to the silly season. I am so, so happy I finally made it to Friday. I'm going to clean my bombsite of a kitchen tonight, and then tomorrow begins a couple of days off! There is Christmas meal extravaganza Christmas eve at Jill's, then we are heading there for Christmas day too. It's always a time I get a little bummed i'm not home with my family, so I am so grateful we have somewhere to go to spend with our second family! 

I'm going to keep this short, but I wanted to pop the recipe for this chocolate tart up before the madness kicks in and I forget about it. This is a riff on the chocolate peanut butter situation I made a few weeks ago - I had a zillion messages asking for the recipe so I figured I had better listen and get it up here!

This is a simple chocolate tart - there is a press-in crust made with home made chocolate sugar cookies. It gets chilled for a hot second, then filled with a silky ganache (seriously, I can, and do eat this stuff with a spoon). You can keep it plain, but I infused it with a little earl grey because I couldn't help myself. The taste of the tea is very subtle, but I love it. You can stop here if you like, and have an epic chocolate tart, or you can keep going and get all fancy with some swiss meringue buttercream ombre blobs, which take it up just a notch. The ombre is made by making one batch of buttercream, then removing some, adding a little dark chocolate, removing a little more, more chocolate, etc etc. It's all piped on using a star tip (my secret weapon), and then we have ourselves a show stopping dessert! It can be made well in advance, and would be perfect for a holiday dinner party or dessert table. Merry Merry from Me and Mine to You and Yours! Stay safe these holidays! xx

A few wee tips:

  • If you are making a riff of this and not using the tea, you will only need to use 270g (1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) of cream - I account for some of the liquid being absorbed by the tea leaves. 
  • The original recipe I made was a peanut butter chocolate tart. You can absolutely make it peanut butter if you want - just sub the milk chocolate for a peanut butter variation! Same goes with dark chocolate etc. 
  • I made this in a rectangle tart tin (14" x 4") - if you want to make it in a round, use a 9" removable bottom tart tin and use 1.5 cups cream, (start with 2 cups, infuse, then re-measure and use 1.5 cups), 550g chocolate and 6 Tbsp butter. This recipe is a good guide. 
  • I made the base for this using a home made cookie. The cookies themselves are epic, and you should make them. They are also very moist so only needed a tiny bit of butter. If you use a drier cookie, you may find that you need to increase the amount of butter needed - you can always add a little more as you are mixing up the base if you think it needs it. You can use whatever base you like - just tweak the butter amount as needed. 
  • I use a french star tip for this - I have a bunch in all different sizes. They are amazing for piping, and make easy blobs look super pro!
 

 

Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Swiss Meringue Buttercream 

- Makes one 14" x 4" tart, serves 8-10 -

Chocolate sugar cookies
 
226g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g (1 ½ cups) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1 egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
250 (1 2/3) All-purpose Flour
25g (1/4 cup) dutch-process cocoa
25g (1/4 cup) black cocoa (alternatively use more dutch process)
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Tart Crust
400g Chocolate Sugar Cookies
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Filling
1 1/2 cups (360g) heavy cream
2 Tbsp loose leaf Earl Grey Tea
415g Milk chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 (68g) Unsalted butter, at room temp

Ombre Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1/2 cup (123g) egg whites, or 4 large egg whites
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
16oz (455oz, or four sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate
1/4 cup (25g) dutch process cocoa

 

- PROCESS -

CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIES

Preheat the oven to 350˚f /180˚c. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla paste, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined. Scrape bowl again to ensure that the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Place approximately a cup of sugar in a bowl. Scoop tablespoons of the mixture using a #70 scoop, and roll into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar to coat completely. Place evenly spaced apart on the baking sheet, leaving room for spreading (11 per half baking sheet works well). You will need to bake your cookies in several batches.

Bake the cookies for 8-9 minutes, until puffy and barely golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the pan - during this time they will deflate and crackle slightly. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat sugar rolling and baking process with remaining dough.

CRUST

Place the cookies in the work bowl of a food processor and blitz until it resembles fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and add the melted butter. Stir well to combine. Press into the bottom and sides of a rectangular 14" x 4" removable bottom tart tin, using a drinking glass or measuring cup to compact down. Transfer to the fridge while you prepare the filling.

FILLING

In a medium pot over medium heat, heat the heavy cream until just shy of a simmer. Add the tea leaves, stir well, and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Strain, pressing down on the tea leaves. Re-measure the cream, and top up to 1 cup and 2 Tbsp if needed. Return to the heat and heat to just shy of a simmer. 

While the cream is heating, place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Once the cream is hot, pour over the chocolate and butter, and immediately cover the bowl with a plate. Leave to stand for 7-8 minutes, then whisk well. It will look curdled to begin with, but will quickly turn into a smooth ganache. Whisk until completely smooth. Pour the filling into the chilled tart crust, and tap to remove any air bubbles. Place in the fridge to firm up for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Fit 4-5 piping bags with french star tips of different sizes. 

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

While the buttercream is mixing, melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in 30 second increments in the microwave.

Remove about 1/4 of the buttercream, and place into one of the piping bags. Add about half of the melted chocolate, and mix to incorporate. Remove 1/3 of the buttercream from the bowl, and place into the second bag. Add the remainder of the chocolate and mix to combine. Transfer half of the remaining buttercream to a third piping bag. Sift in the cocoa, and mix well. Transfer the rest of the buttercream to the fourth bag.

Pipe blobs of varying size on the surface of the tart, leaving it as sparse or as filled in as you like. Transfer to the fridge to allow the buttercream to set slightly. Allow to stand at room temp for 15 minutes or so before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in the fridge. 

Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Tart with Ombre Dark Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream. A press in cookie crust is topped with a silky earl grey infused ganache filling, then finished with an ombre swiss meringue buttercream.