Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream... I love berries. I remember eating fresh raspberries and blackberries while growing up. My mom had this berry patch in the garden and it made the best berries. I loved to go and pick bowlfuls of raspberries and blackberries on those hot summer days. It was so refreshing. I always popped a few in my mouth as I picked:). Garden fresh berries are simply the best. So, so flavorful! This year I am planting a blueberry bush in my garden. I am excited to see how that will go. I am hoping to get some raspberries and strawberries as well. It would be nice to get at least enough berries so that I can make this tart again:). But this time around, I had to resort to using the store-bought kind of berries. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing...I know there are plenty of people who don't even have the luxury of the store-bought kind of berries. Anyway, I came across this recipe while re-watching an old episode of America's Test Kitchen where they prepared a fresh berry tart. I've been meaning to make such a tart for some time now. So when I saw the episode again, I knew I needed to stop procrastinating:)...I decided to make it. It looked simple enough. I knew, however, that I wanted to make the tart in several stages and to also make them smaller. I actually prefer them smaller. It's nice to be able to change the toppings and the fillings so that you can have a variety of tarts. I didn't want to be overwhelmed with the preparation, so I made the tart dough and froze it. A couple of days later, I made the pastry cream. It was easy after that....actually, the fun part began. Decorating. You can use any type of fruit, really. But I like the way America's Test Kitchen decorated theirs. I loved the color combination. But you can easily decorate as you like...you can use just strawberries, or just blueberries, or keep it simple with just raspberries. I think it is a beautiful tart...perfect for the summer. You know, if you don't want to make the pastry cream, you can easily use a lemon curd lightened up with a bit of whipped cream. Of course, you can also use some vanilla pudding. I have included the original recipe for a large tart. You can also make the smaller tarts, if you like. Basically, you just need to watch the baking time for the crust....but I have included that information below. We really enjoyed these wonderful berry tarts. They are so pretty and taste so summery. Hope you enjoy...
If you would like to see a video clip on making fresh berry tarts, you can click on this video clip that does an outstanding job of taking you on a step-by-step tutorial. It does use a different technique(which I haven't made yet).
You will need: adapted from America's Test Kitchen Video Series (also Baking Illustrated Cookbook) makes a 9 inch tart ( or 4 smaller tarts)
TART SHELL: A crisp, buttery, cookie- like base
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsps grated orange peel(definitely optional....but I added)
PASTRY CREAM: this is luxurious, but can thin out or"break" if heated beyond boiling point or if mixed after it has set....my personal observation.
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
3 TBS cornstarch( if you want a thicker cream you can add a bit more)
4 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract*
* you can easily substitute the vanilla with some rum, orange or almond extract
TOPPING: you can use any berries/fruit you like
kiwis, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
Apple jelly, for glazing
TART SHELL: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, cream and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. In a food processor, add the the flour, sugar, and salt. Briefly process the ingredients to combine. Add the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process to cut the butter into the flour. The mixture should resemble coarse meal..Pulsing for about fifteen 1-second pulses should be enough. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together. It should take about 12 seconds or so. Place the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disc( or 4 small discs, if you are planning to make smaller tarts). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours. You can also freeze these for later....like I did.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.) Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. If you are planning to make the smaller versions just roll to about 2 inches wider than the tart pan. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan.Press and mold the dough to the sides of the tart pan. Press a rolling pin on top of the edge to remove excess dough. You can also use your hands. Remove the excess off the top and reform to use for another tart. Place the dough-lined tart pan on a plate and freeze for 30 minutes. You can also freeze for another day... just wrap tightly.
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375° F. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square of foil( I used parchment paper) into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights( I used some beans). Bake for 30 minutes( bake for half the time for the smaller tarts)...Rotate halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Keep an eye on this as the edges can easily burn. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. It will then be ready to be filled with pastry cream.
PASTRY CREAM:Heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering. You will notice that small bubbles will form on the edge of the pan...just don't boil. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar. In the meantime, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy It should take about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until it is thoroughly combined. The mixture should be pale yellow and thick. That should take about 30 seconds.
When the half-and-half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture. this is called tempering. Make sure you whisk constantly. Return all of the mixture to the saucepan,. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat...make sure you whisk constantly(it is very important) or otherwise you will get lumps. Whisk until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy. It should take about 30 seconds. You don't want to go over the boiling point as that will cause the cornstarch to break down...resulting in a "soupy" cream. Take the mixture off of the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. You can strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve...but I didn't. Press a plastic wrap directly on the surface. This prevents a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2-3 days. To ensure that pastry cream does not thin out, do not whisk once it has set. Otherwise, you will have a thin consistency.
I noticed it wasn't as thick after a day in the fridge(maybe I mixed it), so I would probably use the pastry cream within a day or so.
ASSEMBLING THE TART: Spread the cold pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Get the berries ready by washing and draining on a paper towel. If you don't drain you will get a soggy pastry. To cut the kiwi: Cut the ends off of teh kiwi. Make a slit through the skin. Use a teaspoon to go underneath the skin to remove it.
Arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream as desired. This is the fun part! Heat the jelly in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just until slightly melted and easy to stir. You can also use some apricot preserves...just strain it. Using a pastry brush, paint a light layer of jelly over the fresh fruit. If the jelly thickens just re-warm. I used a homemade rhubarb jam ..it had a slight tinge of pink. But if you want professional results, use a clear jelly:).
Serve the same day for best results. Keep it refrigerated...this allows the pastry cream to be a bit firmer when serving. If left outside at room temp for too long the pastry cream can loosen a bit. Acidic fruits(such as kiwi) can break down the structure of the cornstarch in the pastry cream...it might be best to decorate as close to serving time as possible to avoid a thin pastry cream. Just my own personal observation.