Favorite Things

For tart shells:
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut up (1/4 lb)

For chocolate glaze:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/8 lb butter
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup

For the custard:
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

For strawberry filling:
18 medium strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar

For whipping cream:
1/2 cup whipping cream, chilled
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

For garnish:
12 fresh mint leaves

To serve on the side:
Chocolate ice cream

Utensils needed:
waxed paper, 6 single-serving tart pans, wire whisk or hand-held electric mixer.
Preheat oven to 400F.

Tart shell:
Mix 1 large egg yolk, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl. Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter to flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk mixture to flour mixture and pulse until dough begins to pull together. Use hands to gather dough and divide into 6 equal portions. Form each portion into a smooth disk and refrigerate 45 minutes. Between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Roll out each dough portions into a 4 inch disk. Ease each disk into a tart pan, trim edges and prick bottoms of tart shells with a fork. Freeze tart shells for 10 minutes. Remove tart shells from freezer and place on center rack for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool tart shells thoroughly.

Chocolate Glaze:
Place chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup into a small bowl. Place the bowl in a pan of simmering water and stir until almost smooth. Remove a bowl from pan and stir until glaze is completely smooth. Set aside.

Place 3 egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk until the mixture whitens and forms a ribbon. Fold cornstarch into the mixture. Heat milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence in a medium saucepan until it begins to boil. Whish the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return all to the saucepan and boil 1 minute, whisking continuously. Pour custard into a bowl and rub surface with a little butter.

Strawberry Filling:
Rinse and dry strawberries. Halve and place in a bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss well.

Whipped Cream:
Beat whipping cream until it begins to stiffen. Add 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence and beat until stiff.

Place cooled tart shells upside down on waxed paper and spoon warm chocolate glaze over each until all surfaces are coated. Invert each tart shell onto an individual serving plate. Fill each with 2 heaping tablespoons custard followed by 1/6 of strawberry filling. Top each with 2 heaping tablespoons whipped cream and 2 mint leaves. Serve with a scoop of chocolate ice cream on the side.

Serves 6

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana