August 18, 2005

Making A Fruit Tart

Earthgirl wanted my recipe for a berry tart. It's not a quick, easy recipe and it has several steps, but I consider all the effort totally worth it. Fruit tarts are one of my favorite desserts.

The first step is making the pastry cream. This needs to cool for a long time in the refrigerator, so it's best to start here.

Pastry Cream

6 large egg yolks at room temperature (put eggs in a bowl of hot tap water while you get the rest of the ingredients out and they'll be room temperature-ish enough.)
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Beat egg yolks and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, until the mixture is smooth and yellow -- about 3 minutes. Reduce speed on mixer and add cornstarch. Heat milk to boiling, either in the microwave or on the stovetop. With mixer on low, pour hot milk slowly into egg mixture. When mixed, pour into a large saucepan.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick, between 5 and 10 minutes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat, mix in the butter, vanilla, and cream. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and chill.

NOTE: This makes enough pastry cream for two tarts, or you can eat half of it with berries on top as a lovely vanilla pudding.

Tart Shell

3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (heat in the microwave at 20% power until butter warms up to room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together with electric mixer. Add vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter mixture. Mix on a low speed until the dough starts to form. Form into a ball as much as possible in the bowl and then dump directly into a false bottom tart pan and press into place, making sure the edge is flat. Chill for 10 minutes.

Butter one side of a piece of aluminum foil and place it buttered side down, on the tart. Fill with beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights, prick the tart all over with a fork and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Spread with pastry cream and fresh fruit and berries.

I personally think this makes the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Thank you. I think I'll try it when my girlfriends come over next Friday night.

Posted by: Earth Girl at August 18, 2005 09:58 AM

Gosh, now I'm really hungry.

And did I mention I just joined Jenny Craig??

Posted by: Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady at August 18, 2005 01:51 PM

Diet food, it isn't, GOYL. I bet that one could make a pretty good diet approximation though, especially if one was just shooting for a low carb version. Maybe Jim, the low carb culinary genius, needs to work on that.

Posted by: Jordana at August 18, 2005 04:57 PM

I'll save the recipe for sometime when we're celebrating something.

(And I suppose celebrating that I lost 6.3 pounds in my first week isn't the sort of celebration I should have with homemade custard, huh?)

Posted by: Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady at August 18, 2005 10:23 PM

It sounds delightful--I'll have to try it sometime. May I make two comments?

The first concerns eggs at room temp: Whole eggs, in uncracked shells, can stay outside of the refrigerator for several days safely--at least, according to both health departments for the state of Maryland and Washington DC. When I make something requiring room-temp eggs I usually take them out of the refrigerator the night before.

Second, a better test for checking if the custard is thick enough is to take out the wooden spoon every so often and draw your finger across the back of it. If the custard does not flow together after a slow count of three or so, it's thick enough. The French chef who taught me how to make custard also said it had to be stirred in a figure-8 ONLY on pain of...then he went off in French. I have to admit, though, the figure-8 stirring method does seem to result in a slightly creamier and less grainy custard.

Posted by: Victor at August 24, 2005 06:13 PM