Blackberry-Anise Hyssop Custard Tart

Summer is winding down and the blackberries are big and juicy and the lovely delicatly herb, anise hyssop is in full bloom.  Even though anise hyssop is in the mint family, as its name suggests it has an anise flavor.  Grind some of the leaves with sugar and the sugar takes on a beautiful color and is fit for use in this custard tart (and probably a cup of tea too).  The little lavender blooms of the anise hyssop look beautiful in the tart as well and will impart even more flavor.

Blackberry-Anise Hyssop Custard Tart

Blackberry-Anise Hyssop Custard Tart
(makes one nine-inch tart)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp anise hyssop sugar (simply grind some leaves with the sugar to your taste)
Zest of half a lemon
Large pinch of salt
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
About 1 dry pint of blackberries (more or less)
Anise hyssop buds or a few finely chiffonaded leaves

First, line a nine-inch tart ring with your favorite sweet tart dough crust.  Dock it with a fork and fully blind bake it, egg washing the crust after you remove the pie weights.  Cool the crust completely.

In a bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolks, sugar, zest and salt together.  Whisk in the heavy cream.  Arrange blackberries and buds or finely chiffonaded anise hyssop leaves in the crust.  Pour the custard over (you might not need all of it).  Bake at 300º-325º until custard is set, but jiggles as a whole rather than in waves, and try to catch it before it puffs around the edge.  Cool and chill completely before cutting.

When I'm ready to serve it, I sprinkle the slice with a little sugar and then lightly brulée it with a kitchen torch.  Just adds a little somethin'-somethin'.

To make it a quintessentially Northwestern dessert, I serve it with a syrup of pinot noir and hazelnut lace cookies.  The syrup is pretty simple, I pour a bottle of pinot noir and two cups of sugar into a sauce pan.  I crumble in a one-inch piece of true cinnamon and a couple stems of anise hyssop.  I bring this to a boi, then lower to a simmer and let it reduce until it becomes a syrup.  I test the consistency of the syrup by dropping a bit on a frozen plate to see if it's the viscocity I'm looking for.  When it's to my liking, I strain the syrup and cool and chill it.