Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Amazing Fruit Tart

Father's Day weather was unbelievable this year--nothing short of a beautiful summer day. I decided to bake a summery dessert in honor of my wonderful father, and a fresh fruit tart, the likes of which I had previously sampled only a couple of times in my life, fit the bill.

A fruit tart is really quite simple in its components: a sweet tart crust is brushed with melted chocolate, filled with vanilla pastry cream, and topped with fresh fruit. An optional apricot glaze keeps the fruit nice and shiny, but I am quite wary of apricots and did not elect to use them in any form in this dessert. I'm a chicken when it comes to these things!

I took the recipe mainly from a wonderful web site that I often visit, Joy of Baking, whose recipes are always well written and spot on. I did modify the tart crust because my sister is allergic to wheat; as such, I used a gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour. Moreover, a touch of vanilla helped to enhance the crust's sweetness and brighten the flavor a bit. I also discovered that I do not, in fact, have a tart pan (!), so I instead baked the tart in a glass pie plate (gasp!), which worked out great.

For a pastry cream that did not include flour, I used a recipe from another terrific, albeit somewhat larger, site, Allrecipes. I know cornstarch can be substituted for flour, but I didn't want to mess up any delicate ratios because I wanted this dessert to be perfect.

And the fruit tart was, in fact, perfect. The crust was sweet and cookie-like, and the melted chocolate and vanilla pastry cream were perfect complements to each other. This was my first time making pastry cream, and it came out extremely well, although next time, I will boil the cream a little bit less so it isn't quite as thick. But it was still delicious. And the fresh fruit on top was a nice touch, a nod to good health, even without the apricot glaze. Enjoy!

Fresh Fruit Tart
Adapted from Joy of Baking and Allrecipes.
Makes one 9-inch tart.

For the crust:

210 grams (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

**Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.**

1. Have ready a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla to incorporate.
4. Add dry ingredients and stir until just blended.
5. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
6. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out, between two pieces of plastic wrap, into an 11- or 12-inch circle.
7. Peel off top layer of plastic wrap and, with the aid of the remaining piece of plastic wrap, transfer to tart pan (or pie plate). Peel off remaining plastic wrap.
8. Adjust dough so that it fits nicely in the pan, conforming to all edges, ridges, etc. Just make it look pretty!
9. Place pan in refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.
10. Prick all over with fork and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown and fully baked.
11. Turn oven off; you won't need it again!
12. Admire your finished crust and set on a wire rack to cool.
Makes one 9-inch tart shell.

For the pastry cream:
2 cups milk (I used skim milk)
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil over medium-high heat.
2. Just before that mixture boils, stir together the egg yolks and egg.
3. Combine cornstarch and 1/3 cup sugar, and whisk into egg mixture.
4. When milk mixture boils, add it very, very slowly, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture (so as not to cook the eggs).
5. When mixtures are combined, pour into saucepan (don't stop whisking) and return to heat.
6. Whisk vigorously for thirty seconds, or until cream is suitably thickened.
7. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla extract until all ingredients are combined.
8. Push through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl.
9. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream (to prevent skin forming).
10. Place in refrigerator and chill for several hours.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

For the assembly:
One 9-inch tart shell
1/2 cup to 1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
About 2 1/2 cups pastry cream
Strawberries, blueberries, etc., for topping

1. Remove the tart shell from the tart pan by holding the tart pan and pushing up the bottom, letting the ring slip down your arm. Skip this step if you have a pie plate, of course.
2. Melt chocolate and brush on bottom of tart shell.
3. While chocolate is cooling, take pastry cream out of the refrigerator and let it warm up.
4. After about ten minutes, take a spoon to the cream. If it's too firm, mash it a bit with the spoon until it's softer. If it's too watery, well, sorry. It'll still taste delicious.
5. Spoon pastry cream into tart shell.
6. Arrange fruit as desired on top.
7. Capture the beauty with photography before serving to a crowd filled with amazement, wonder, and excitement.

1 comment:

Chelsey said...

all of these look great! keep em coming.