Do you ever have times when you want a classic, elegant dessert but don’t really know what to make? You know, a step-up from a traditional brownie or cake? Something more. Something impressive and a teensy weensy bit over-the-top.
This classic fresh fruit tart is a perfect example of a stunning, light dessert that takes a bit more effort than whipping up a batch of cookies, but is worth every step.
Not only is it gorgeous but it is perhaps one of the most delectable desserts I have had in a long time.
The buttery pastry shell is sweeter than a normal pie crust and even though I’m terrible at pie crusts, this didn’t prove to be too challenging (let’s pretend I didn’t have to reroll it twice due to bad pastry making skills!).
The ultimate deliciousness in this tart is the silky, decadent pastry cream that nestles inside the crust. Hidden by all of the juicy, ripe fruit, it makes it’s presence known with each bite.
I knew it was going to be tasty when I couldn’t stop licking the remnants out of the saucepan. Creamy and rich, it is perfectly complimented by the tart sweetness of the fruit.
Although this tart requires 1) a bit more time, 2) possibly a few more pennies to get the best fruit, and 3) a bit more self-control to not curse while rolling out the pastry (oh wait, that’s probably just me), I promise the results pay off big time.
One selling point is that the delicious pastry cream can be made up to two days in advance and the pastry dough for the tart shell can be made in advance, also. It was a breeze to assemble everything right before dinner.
Although this definitely isn’t an everyday treat, it has definitely been added to my repertoire of “impress my guests…or just my kids” type of dessert.
Even my toddling kids, who can be easily impressed when the ketchup makes a curvy design on their hot dog, were oohing and aahing at this spectacular presentation.
Classic Fresh Fruit Tart
- 2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- pinch table salt
- 5 large egg yolks, chalazae removed (see note)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 4 pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream, with 1-2 tablespoons additional, as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
- 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar (about 3 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), very cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Fruit and Glaze:
- 2 large kiwis, peeled, halved and cut into half-moon slices (my kiwis were teensy tiny so I just left them in circles)
- 1 pint raspberries (blemished berries discarded)
- 1/2 pint blueberries (sorted, discarding any stems or blemished berries)
- 1/2 cup apple jelly
- For the Pastry Cream: Heat the whole milk or half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until they are thoroughly combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
- When the milk mixture reaches a full simmer, gradually whisk the simmering milk into the yolk mixture to temper. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure every bit makes it into the saucepan. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly (this is important, don’t stop stirring!), until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds to one minute. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate until the pastry cream is cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.
- For the Tart Pastry: While the pastry cream is chilling, whisk together the yolk, 1 tablespoon cream, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the dry ingredients and cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry blender (this can also be done in a food processor). The mixture should resemble coarse meal when the butter has been cut in completely. Add the egg mixture and using your fingers or a wooden spoon, gently mix the ingredients together until they just come together. If the dough is overly dry, add 1/2 tablespoon cream at a time to moisten the dough. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap completely and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until it softens a bit). Unwrap the dough and roll it out between lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap until it is 13-inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a tart pan by rolling dough loosely around a rolling pin and unrolling over a 9- to 9 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Working around the edges of the pan, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the dough with one hand while pressing the dough into the corners with other hand. Press the dough into the fluted sides of pan. (If some edges are too thin, reinforce sides by folding excess dough back on itself.) Run the rolling pin over the top of the tart pan to remove excess dough. Set dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes (can be sealed in gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag and frozen for up to 1 month).
- Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet. Press a large piece of tin foil inside the frozen shell and over the edges (use two overlapping pieces of foil if needed) and fill with pie weights or dry beans (which is what I use). Bake the shell until it is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the edges of the foil and pulling up and out. Return the crust to the oven and continue to bake until light and golden brown, 3-5 minutes longer. Set the baking sheet with the tart shell on a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- To Assemble and Glaze the Tart: When the tart shell is completely cool, spread cold pastry cream over the bottom, using an offset spatula or large spoon. At this point, you can press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate the filled shell for up to 30 minutes. Arrange the fruit on top of pastry cream. Arrange the kiwis in an overlapping circle on the outside edge of the pastry. Arrange the raspberries in two tight rings just inside of the kiwis, using the taller berries to form the inner ring. Finally, pile the blueberries in the center of the tart.
- Bring the jelly to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out lumps. When boiling and completely melted, apply the jelly to the tart by dabbing and flicking it onto the fruit with a pastry brush; add 1 teaspoon water and return the jelly to a boil if it becomes too thick to drizzle. (The tart can be refrigerated, uncovered, up to 30 minutes.)
- To serve, remove the outer metal ring of the tart pan, slide a thin metal spatula between bottom of crust and tart pan bottom to release, then slip tart onto cardboard round or serving platter; cut into pieces and serve.
The recipe calls to remove the chalazae from the egg. If you are like me, you are probably saying to yourself, “Chalaz-a-what?” Don’t be alarmed! I quickly learned that chalazae are simply the cordlike strands of egg white protein that are attached to the yolks. They can be removed with your fingers easily and it eliminates the pastry cream needing to be strained after it is cooked. The pastry cream can be made up to 48 hours in advance, but don’t fill the prebaked tart shell until 30 minutes or less before serving before serving. Once filled, the tart should be topped with fruit, glazed, and served within about 30 minutes. I made this in a traditional tart pan but I’m assuming it can be made in a similar-sized pie plate – although the presentation won’t be quite as nice since the sides can’t be removed.
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Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Entertaining Spring 2010