Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fabulous Fruit Tart Time!

Ok, remember these bad boys?
Well, I finally have the recipes for you! Told ya i'd remember! These recipes are all by Cathy Burgett, my old baking instructor. She is so amazingly talented! So, here goes...

Pasta Frolla (sweet dough for tarts)
1 3/4 sticks (7 oz.) butter, cool but malleable
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups flour (pastry flour works best, but regular is ok)

-Cream the butter and sugar until ewll mixed, but not light
-Add the egg and egg yolk, the pinch of salt, and the flavorings.
-Mix well to combine. Add the flour, and cut with a dough scraper to mix lightly just until incorporated.
-Squeeze the dough together lightly, and knead once or twice to finish the mixing.
-Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.
-Refrigerate at least 20 minutes before working with this dough.

-Roll the chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface, about 1/8" thick.
-Cut to slightly larger than your tart pan, roll dough up onto rolling pin, and unroll it into the tart pan.
-Fit the dough smugly into the tart pan, and cut it off at the edge of the pan by rolling the pin back and forth over it.
-Prick the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork.
-Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour, or freze for 10 minutes before baking.
-To bake, preheat the overn to 375*. Line the bottom of the tart pan with parchment paper or foil, and fill it with rice or beans to weigh it down.
-Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove the weights, and continue baking for 10-15 minutes more until golden brown and cooked through.
-For small tartlettes this dough does not have to be weighted when baking.

Yield: one large tart shell (11-12") or 12-16 small tartlettes

Once you've got your shell baked set aside to cool. You can make the next recipe while those are baking and cooling.

Pastry Cream

2 cups milk
4 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. flour
1 tsp. vanilla, or 2 tsps. juice or liqueur, or the grated zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange

-Bring the milk and butter to a boil over high heat.
-In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until thick and creamy.
-Whisk the flour and cornstarch into the yolk/sugar mixture until well combined.
-Temper (add a little to bring up the temperature) the hot milk into the yolk mixture, then pour the yolk mixture back into the pot of milk.
-Over medium-high heat, whisk constantly until the cream thickens and boils.
-Remove from heat and pour into a clean, dry bowl.
-Flavor with an extract, juice, liqueur, or zest.
-Cover with plastic wrap in direct contact with pastry cream, and refrigerate until cool.

Note: to lighten pastry cream, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to medium-soft peak, and fold it into cold pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

Once your tart shells are cool, your pastry cream is cool and your strawberries are washed and sliced in half you are ready to roll!

To assemble those tasty tarts just start scooping the pastry cream into the shells. make a good thick layer,but leave a bit of space between the cream and the top of the tart shell edge so it doesn't spill over. At least 1/2", but more if you have a large deep shell.

Once the pastry cream is in and smoothed, start placing your strawberries. Start at the outside edge and set the strawberry halves cut side down. Keep moving in circles and slightly overlapping as you go. When you reach the center and have a little space left i like to put either a whole strawberry with the green top up, or a sprig of mint to finish it off.

Get some jam, apricot is traditional, but i use strawberry or raspberry for the color, put a few spoonfuls into a microwave safe bowl and heat until liquidy. If it has chunks or seeds you'll need to strain them out. Add a bit of boiling water or some lemon juice to thin it just a bit. Carefully paint your berries, using a pastry brush, with the jam so everything is evenly covered. Not only does this add a pretty shiny finish to your tart, but it also helps seal in the freshness of the berries and cream so they don't dry out.

And Voila! You've got a gorgeous tart ready to eat (but it's so pretty you'd better take a picture first!).

You don't have to use strawberries for this tart, if you've got other things around. Mixed fruit tarts are lovely because of the variety of colors and textures. Try kiwi, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, star fruit, pomegranate seeds...anything that catches your fancy! (Things like apples and bananas don't work well because they change color, and citrus usually isn't a good choice because they are so juicy and will sog out the tart shell.) Arrange the pieces in whatever way looks beautiful to you! Try to keep the fruit in consistent bite sized pieces. And make sure someone oooh's and aaah's at all your hard work!!! Now dig in!

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