A tarte Tropézienne is basically a big cream bun…not a tart at all. But who knows how these things get their names? A tarte Tropézienne is almost always made with brioche, but the fillings can vary. Supposedly the creator of this pastry was very secretive about his filling recipe, so pastry makers have used just about everything over the years trying to copy it. Pastry cream, buttercream, crème chiboust (pastry cream plus meringue), crème diplomat (pastry cream plus whipped cream and gelatin), and crème mousseline (pastry cream plus butter) are variously used. Me, I like Pierre Hermé’s take on the filling: a combo of whipped cream, pastry cream and buttercream. Yeah, I don’t think the bikini babes on the beaches of St. Tropez eat too much of this.
Toppings vary widely as well. I’ve seen everything from streusel to sliced almonds to pearl sugar, but I think a simple dusting of powdered sugar is all a good tarte Tropézienne really needs. The recipe goes like this:
For the “tart”:
1 recipe brioche dough
Prepare the brioche according to instructions. Roll the finished dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch, then trim it into a disk about 8 inches in diameter. Put the disk on a parchment-lined baking sheet and paint it with egg wash. Allow it to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours until puffy. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 375. When the brioche has risen, paint it again with egg wash and bake it for 12-15 minutes until golden. Allow it to cool completely before using.
For the filling:
Fold the buttercream and pastry cream together. Stir in the orange flower water and kirsch if you’re using them. Lastly whip the cream to stiff peaks and either fold it into the buttercream mixture or whip the buttercream mixture into it in the mixer. I favor the latter technique, since it takes minimal time. Add about a third of the buttercream mixture at a time and whip for about ten seconds per addition.
Slice the cooled brioche horizontally into two pieces. Apply the filling (pipe it in if you wish) and put on the top. Serve immediately or refrigerate it for up to a day. Remove it from the refrigerator a minimum of half an hour before serving. When ready to serve, dust the top with powdered sugar. Slice it at the table.