Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vanilla Bean Paste Sea Buckthorn Tart with Brown Sugar Crust

Sea Buckthorn or Sanddorn is popular here in Germany. Mostly in the form of jam and liqueur. Many cosmetic body care products are also made with this nutritious berry.

Image from Naturalherbalextracts.com

The Sea Buckthorn harvest is in the fall so I am out of season. However, I was on a quest to use up a ton of leftover egg yolks from my latest macaron failures :-) So I found myself rummaging through my pantry to find a custard or curd flavor idea when I spied a bottle of Sea Buckthorn liqueur.

Most of you have probably never heard of Sea Buckthorn. I certainly didn't before I moved to Germany.

Some Facts:
  • Native to Northern Asia and Europe, it grows in coastal areas in England.
  • Each berry has 50 times the vitamin C of a whole orange in addition to high level of omega -3 oils and carotene.
  • In Finland it's used as a nutritional ingredient in baby food.
  • A brewery in Brussels makes a beer out of it.
  •  It is used in Asia for medicinal purposes for cough, digestion, blood circulation and pain relief.
  • The berry is too acidic to be eaten raw.

The berry (and the liquor) have a tart deep flavor.  I made a way too potent curd out of it (was I not supposed to use the whole bottle?) So I had to make a dessert combining it with a more mellow flavor to balance it out. 

Hello vanilla bean paste custard. 

I was looking for a third flavor close to caramel so I went with a brown sugar crust to make a tart.

Now, I had to put the whole tart together without the potent curd overwhelming the delicate custard. I thought of swirling it into the vanilla bean custard.  Then I had what I thought was a better idea. I pulled out some star cookie cutters, greased them and placed them in the crust.

I filled the stars with the  sea buckthorn curd and refrigerated the tart for 15 minutes.

Then I spooned the vanilla bean custard in around the stars and put it back in the fridge.

After another 15 minutes I removed the tart from the fridge and gently lifted out the star cutters.

Then smoothed over the edges.

Turns out this was not the better idea. The result was not as pretty as I'd hoped. 

Ok, it's more than a little funky looking.I am blaming it on those stupid macarons.  This probably would have worked better if I had used all the same size small star cutters so the sea buckthorn curd was more evenly distributed throughout the tart. Whatevs. Booze hounds me can opt for the big star slice.

What's more important is the tart was very tasty and the flavors balanced each other perfectly.

I am submitting this sweet, drunken, nutritious tart to the Monthly Mingle. Official page HERE. This month's theme is Topless Tarts. Add topless to sweet, drunken and nutritious and you have a party in a tart that good for you too.

Vanilla Bean Paste Sea Buckthorn Tart 
with Brown Sugar Crust

For the sea buckthorn curd: (This is STRONG so use sparingly) Slightly adapted for Global Table Adventure's gorgeous Starfruit Curd.

  • 1+1/2 cups sea buckthorn liqueur
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1+1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1+1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • In a saucepan, Bring liqueur to a boil then remove from heat.
  • Beat egg yolks with sugar until well mixed.
  • Whisk in corn starch and then flour.
  • Add a little of the hot liqueur to the egg mixture to temper.
  • Keep adding a bit at a time until thoroughly combined.
  • Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
  • Whisking constantly, heat until curd has thickened.
  • Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.
For the vanilla bean paste custard:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1/8 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter cut into small pieces
  • Whisk all ingredients except the butter over medium heat. Keep whisking until mixture thickens.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the butter pieces.
  • Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.

For the brown sugar crust:
-Fits a 10+1/2 inch round pie pan.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1+1/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Grease pan.
  • Cut butter into pieces.
  • In a food processor pulse flour, brown sugars and salt until evenly combined.
  • Add in butter and pulse until dough forms.
  • Press into pan evenly.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.


  1. Hi Lora, I learned about something new today;-). You've posted a unique tart today, I've never seen Sanddorn or Sea Buckhorn curd. This is a creative use of your leftover egg yolks;-)
    I wanted to tell you where I bought my plates like yours. I went with a girlfriend to the outlet in Gien where they make the plates and picked them up. I packed them in my carry on and took them home with me in the plane so they are very special and have a fun memory attached. I think they're beautiful and love using them;-)

  2. You are so creative in your kitchen and your blog continues to be a wealth of new information. Love learning all these little tidbits about Germany and the products you find and use there.

  3. I am SO insanely intrigued by these buckthorns of which you speak. I think the tart looks quite lovely!

  4. I really admire your creativity even if it didn't come out quite as planned - really inspiring. Will look out for Sea Buckthorn next time I visit Germany - even the bottle looks pretty.


Thank you for your comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!