You can make this St. Tropez Classic, in your own kitchen.
By Jenny Adams
“I was about 4 or 5 years old, the first time I had it,” says French-born chef, Nico Romo, of the Tarte Tropézienne.
“This dessert is a classic. I grew up with it. It's a comfort food that is a staple for Sunday lunch.” Born in Lyon, France, Chef Romo is the youngest-ever US member of The French Culinary Academy (l’Académie Culinaire de France) and Master Chefs of France (Maîtres Cuisiniers de France), one of just 66 French Master Chefs in the country, and the only recipient in South Carolina.
In 2017, Chef Romo opened his first concept, NICO, bringing his European training and appreciation for locally sourced ingredients, particularly seafood and oysters. In 2020, he opened Bistronomy by Nico in a quaint spot in downtown Charleston. Bistronomy by Nico is an approachable French Bistro that highlights innovative techniques and ingredients. His third concept, Laura, opened in Spring 2022 serving rustic Italian food as an ode to his Italian Heritage.
He's a man who dearly adores a Tarte Tropézienne, and we could think of no better to give us a great version. This recipe will take a few days, but it’s absolutely stunning when completed.
Tarte Tropézienne can be found in nearly every bakery along the busy, darling streets of St. Tropez. Each offers something slightly different, a rich and buttery brioche––always––filled like a circular sandwich with orange water or vanilla-scented cream. Some offer a moment of rum in the recipe; others are studded with berries or crumbles of dark chocolate.
This recipe’s history, like so much of the island’s global fame, points to a young, voluptuous Brigitte Bardot. It was during the filming of “And God Created Woman” that the film crew and producers took a fondness to Baker Alexandre Mika’s shop. The Polish baker’s cream filled tart took off, becoming a cult favorite and an oft-repeated staple of the island.
Chef Romo is careful to advise that this recipe is one that demands a little practice to perfect at home. “Brioche is hard,” he explains. “It’s susceptible to temperature and humidity. It may take a couple of times in practice, to get it right and fluffy.”
“Also, be careful not to burn the pastry cream,” Romo says.“Make sure the pastry cream is not hot when you mix it with the whipped cream, or the cream will break.”
Day 1: Making the Brioche Dough
Combine flour, milk, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a mixer. Mix on slow till well combined. Pour in roughly three-fourths of the egg mixture. Mix on speed 3, and then slowly add the remaining egg and the vanilla extract. Mix for about 10 minutes, until the dough forms, becomes smooth and does not stick to the bowl. You might need to stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl a few times.
Make the Chapelure for the Top of Brioche:
To Bake the Brioche:
Making a Pastry Cream:
Boil the milk low and slow in a saucepan, with vanilla bean. Scrap the bean into the milk. In the mixing bowl whisk the flour, egg, and sugar until you get a good white paste. Add the hot milk slowly into the mix and continue to cook until it thickens up. Add the soft butter, whisk it together, and place it in the fridge.
Making the Stuffing Cream:
Melt the butter and place in the bowl of your mixer. Whip in the heavy cream. Add the pastry cream slowly to the mixture, and then slowly pour in the kirsch and the orange flower. Incorporate it all slowly with a pastry spatula to finish.
Final Steps to Serve: