I have recently discovered the joys of cooking and baking with friends. After years of blogging quietly as an outlet for my enthusiasm, it's been a delightful surprise to find people who share my excitement for cookbooks, awesome pots, pans, lemon zesters and fresh eggs.
I recently spent a happy afternoon working on a new recipe with a friend. These tarts are a perfect summer treat. They have a crunchy, mildly sweet crust and are filled with cool vanilla bean pastry cream and topped with fresh berries. A light brush of jam glaze takes them over the top to fantastic! We rolled the dough and talked about cookbooks. We filled the pans with the dough and chilled them before blind baking the crust. (See more about blind baking here.) We let them cook and cool while we discussed the perfect front porch. We cracked and separated eggs and whisked and stirred and cooked the pastry cream. We strained it, set it to cool in the fridge and chatted some more about food, recipes, and etc... I was so pleased that the mini shells turned out. We used a cookie cutter to make little circles of dough and pressed them into a muffin tin. These were topped with paper muffin liners and put in the freezer to chill before baking. They came out perfect and were just the right size for the cutest little mini tarts.
We assembled the tarts after dinner, right before serving them. Just fill the shells with pastry cream, top with fruit and brush on a glaze of jam. So pretty, and just the right amount of crunch, creamy coolness, fruit and sweetness. Decadent, but not so much that you can't eat a little more.
Summer Fruit Tarts
The pastry cream can be made a day or two ahead of time if you wish. It will need several hours at a minimum to cool before serving. The recipe is the same for filling Cream Puffs - click here for details.
Sweet Pie Dough and Pastry Shell
recipe from Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques
dough for two 9" tarts
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 sticks sweet butter (unsalted), cut into cubes and slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
Place the flour on a work surface. Make a well in the center and add the remaining ingredients. Gather the dough, with a pastry scraper or your fingers, into a compact mass.
Place the dough close to you and, with the heel of your hand, take a mass about the size of a golf ball and 'smear' it about 10 inches forward. Keep your fingers pointed upwards. Repeat, smearing more and more of the dough forward, until it has all been processed. Gather the dough into a ball and repeat the operation once more. The two smearings (fraisage in French) help homogenize the ingredients, making a well blended dough.
Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch and fit into molds or pans. Refrigerate until ready to blind bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until light brown and fully cooked.
* note : I followed these instructions exactly and it was kind of fun. However, I think you could mix in a bowl with your hands and/or a spatula. Chill until ready to roll and use.
Wash and prepare the fruit you've chosen, making sure it is dry. Fill each tart shell with chilled pastry cream and arrange the fruit on top. Glaze with some good jam, warmed gently in the microwave and brushed on top. Serve as soon as possible.