There’s nothing more delicious and delectable than a good fresh fruit tart. Sometimes, I’d rather eat that over chocolate (gasp!). The key to a great tasting tart is the crust of course but also a great pastry creme. We had friends coming over for dinner, what better way to top of a great meal than with a wonderful, fruity dessert? The only real “tool” you need is a tart pan with a removable bottom. I have little ones and a couple of big ones (9 inch). They are under $10 at any baking store. They are great for making savory quiches and tarts as well sweet desserts. It also makes you look like you spend a lot of time and effort (my kind of food!).
The Pate Sucree or sweet pastry crust recipe is from here. But I shall re-write it for you, for your convenience.
Sweet Pastry Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Mix flour and salt together and set aside. Place butter in mixing bowl and beat until softened and smooth (use stand mixer or electric hand mixer). Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the beaten egg until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix until it just forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Lightly spray with cooking spray a 8-9 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Pat the chilled pastry dough into the pan going up too the sides of the pan evenly. Wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400°F and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of tart shell with a fork as this will keep it from puffing up. Place tart on a large cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 400° then reduce temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 mintes or until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. You can seal the crust with an egg white glaze or apricot glaze. Can be covered and stored for a few days.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise or a tsp of vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tbsp grand marnier or Brandy
In a heat proof bowl mix sugar and egg yolks together until creamy. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and add it to the egg mixture until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
In a sauce pan heat milk and vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from heat and add a little bit to the egg mixture and whisk (this tempers the egg so it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs). Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking the whole time. Take out the vanilla bean and take a knife and scrape all the little seeds and add it to the milk/egg mixture. Return everything to the sauce pan and cook until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. When mixture begins to boil and it’s thickened remove from heat and immediately whisk in liquer. Stir in vanilla extract if using this instead of the bean. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until needed (keeps up to 3 days in fridge). Beat or whisk before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Do not discard the vanilla bean, wash it gently and pat it dry and place in some sugar to make wonderful “vanilla” sugar.
Fruit Tart Assembly:
Spread pastry cream evenly in pastry crust and top with fresh fruit. I like to work my way from the outside in so it looks pretty or you can just dump all your fruit in…it’s a personal choice. To give the fruit a nice shiny top, you can heat up a little apricot jam with a tsp of water in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so and brush it over the fruit.
Resources: The Joy of baking