1 baked tart shell (8-9″, square or round, but about 1/2 inch deep)
1 cup half-and-half
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pats
1 teaspoon vanilla (or another flavor) extract
About 1 cup sliced fruit of your choosing
Have your tart shell made or make it while the pastry cream cools, which is going to take at least 2 hours.
Heat the half-and-half in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat.
While that warms, whisk in a heavy bowl: egg yolks, salt, sugar, flour until smooth. ‘Twill be quite thick. That’s why the weight of the bowl will help you tempering.
Once the half-and-half has come to a simmer, turn off the heat and use a measuring cup to scoop out about 1/3 cup and drizzle it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. There should be no lumps if you’ve drizzled slowly enough and whisked quickly enough.
Turn the pot back on to low heat and now gradually pour the tempered egg yolks into the warm half-and-half, again whisking constantly.
Once it’s all mixed in, the custard will begin to thicken almost immediately.
Continue to cook it over low heat, whisking all the while, for 6-8 minutes or until the whisk dragged through it leaves a trail as if it were parting the seas of custard. (See video)
Increase heat to medium and cook a further minute until large bubbles begin to pop on the surface.
Turn off the heat.
Add butter pats and whisk until melted. Add extract.
Pour into bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Chill 2-48 hours.