Making Tarte Tropézienne

Tarte Tropézienne is nominally French, but the thick stripe of rich cream filling through the center betrays its northern European origins. Say what you will about the French and their love of dairy products, they seldom go hog wild with cream the way Poles and Germans will, bless them. Because let’s face it, excess can be a beautiful thing. Or so says an American.

Start your “tart” by assembling your ingredients and preheating your oven to 375. Take the brioche dough out of the refrigerator and put it down on a well-floured board.

Roll it out to a thickness of about half an inch, then apply an 8″ round form of some sort to the dough. A pot lid works beautifully.

Trim around it with a pizza cutter.

Does it need to be perfect? No.

Try not to make it more than about so thick…as I said, half an inch or so.

Paint on some egg wash…

…and let it rise until it’s about doubled in thickness. Anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending the weather.

Apply a little more egg wash and put the dough round in the oven until it’s a deep brown, about 20-25 minutes. Allow it to cool completely. This can sit for up to a day, uncut, at room temperature if you wish.

Now for the filling. I was worried about this step because it was 95 in the shade yesterday and our air conditioning is broken. However the buttercream came together perfectly. The trick is to make sure all the ingredients are at the same temperature and whip, whip, whip. But I digress. Fold the pastry cream and buttercream together.

Then stir in your flavorings. I left out the kirsch this time and substituted a teaspoon of orange extract for the orange flower water.

Now for the whipped cream. I confess I had some trouble at this point. The cream was cold — it had to be — and the pastry cream/buttercream combo was about 90. As I folded the two together the mixture broke and soon had a very rough, curdled look to it. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of that, I was too busy panicking. The tart was due at a picnic within an hour.

The rule with butter emulsions like buttercream is: when in doubt, whip. This filling is more like a buttercream than it is a pastry cream, so I plopped the whole mess into the mixer, attached the whip, turned it to medium-high and fifteen seconds later it was perfectly smooth and silky. Next time I think I’ll skip the uncertainty of folding in the whipped cream and just whip the pastry cream/buttercream mixture into it while it’s still in the mixer bowl.

But now for assembly. Slice the brioche horizontally with a serrated knife. Take your time with this step. I like to cut in around the edge — not deeply at first — just to get my line, then keep rotating the brioche, steadily cutting deeper until the top is separated.

Open ‘er up…

…and apply a mound of filling. You can also pipe this if you wish, using a coupler with a broad tip (or no tip at all).

Spread it out into a thick, roughly 3/4″ layer.

Put the top back on…

…and dust it with powdered sugar.

The tart can be served immediately or kept in the refrigerator for up to a day.

If you refrigerate it, be sure to take it out of the fridge at least half an hour ahead of time to allow the filling to soften. Slice it slowly with a serrated knife: cut it in half first, then gently shave off pieces of whatever size you wish. I recommend small ones served with fresh fruit.

10 thoughts on “Making Tarte Tropézienne”

  1. I would have never dreamed that the journey to a Tarte Tropezienne would have made stops at The Lives of the Saints, Marie Antoinette, World War II and Brigitte Bardot. Not to mention a side trip tutorial on how the creamy center of the dessert reveals its non-Gallic origins. As always, the end result looks good enough to eat. Another bravura Joe Pastry performance. Merci!

    1. I blow with the ever-changing winds of my comment fields and email in-box…but thanks, reader Lee. Did this one vary significantly from your?

  2. Jim many thanks for sharing!!! Thanks so much for sending this lovely creation into the office. It’s definitely the highlight of our day. I will try to make this as well, although since I’ve been dreaming of a bowl of the buttercream… I don’t know that I won’t stop there!!!

    1. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! My name is Joe! Joe Pastry do you hear!!

      But no problem! That filling is wild, isn’t it? Who ever thought a combination of three different kinds of cream could taste so good?



      1. Or, as Mme Johnny Depp would put it, “Joe le Pastry”!
        Wonderful blog, reading it is like having a coffee with friends and learning how to bake at the same time. Who could beat that? (I’ve already started deleting massive lists of pretentious feeds.)

    1. I don’t…I’d get too depressed. I’d rather just eat and spend an extra half an hour in the gym!

  3. …can you come up to Canada and open up your own shop? I think you’d be very very well received up here 😉

    Also, 3 different creams in the middle? Heavenly. And probably artery-clogging, but meh, you only live once! Thanks for the awesome recipe, I can’t wait to try it!

    1. Hehe…love to, April! And indeed that filling is something, indeed. I’d never tried anything quite like it…well worth the fuss, I think. But let me know what you think!


      – Joe

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