With the warm summer months now upon us in the US, it’s only natural that we’re eating a lot more of what’s considered to be “summer fruits”. When it’s a hot day, we naturally gravitate to lighter foods. It’s hard to even consider baking pumpkin pies or making a full-on Thanksgiving dinner when the mercury rises (though it’s sometimes what we contend with in southern California when it’s not uncommon to have temps in the 80’s on Thanksgiving day). Tell me… how can one resist the juicy summer fruits when they’re all over the Farmer’s Markets and grocery stores? Obviously I can’t and sometimes find I get ahead of myself and buy too much! And then I need to be somewhat creative in using them. Fruit tarts are pretty simple and a rather elegant way of turning summer fruits into a beautiful dessert that looks like you spent hours making.
If you’ve never tried a golden kiwi you really should. One of my co-workers buys all of her produce from the Chinese market near her home and often shares her bounty with us. Recently she brought in a huge box of golden kiwi. In comparison to the size of a standard kiwi, these golden kiwi looked like russet potatoes! LOL! And aside from just being bigger and a different color, golden kiwi are actually sweeter if you can imagine that. My DH, who really enjoys kiwi to start with, absolutely raved over the golden kiwi. My DS, who is on the fence about kiwi, absolutely raved over the golden kiwi! So if you come across golden kiwi… definitely try them!!
Making tarts is rather easy… and fruit tarts are especially easy since the pastry cream can be made up to three days ahead of time and only the tart shell is baked. Once you have the baked and cooled shell, spoon in some pastry cream (the amount is personal preference) and top with the fruit of your choice. Chill for about 30 minutes then serve. I find that if I chill a fruit tart too long, the crust can become soggy so take this into consideration. The tart pictured below is simply sliced fresh strawberries with a little drizzle of chocolate sauce since my family firmly believes that anything good (strawberry tart) is even better if you add chocolate! LOL
This method for making the tart shell is rather unconventional to most people but after struggling forever, once I tried it this way it is now the only way I’ll do it. This recipe comes together very quickly with little fuss and using only one bowl. Oh major YAY!!!
adapted by David Lebovitz from a Paule Caillat recipe
(David’s words of caution… Do be careful with the hot bowl of butter. Not only will the butter spatter a bit when you add the flour, but it’s uncommon to have a very hot bowl on the counter and easy to simply give in the urge to grab it with your bare hands.)
90 gr (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
3 Tablespoons water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 g (5 ounces) all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 410º F
In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a tart tamper, bottom of a measuring cup or a spatula. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your hand and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.
Cool completely before filling.
adapted from The Culinary Institute of America
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup granulated sugar (divided use)
2 cups milk (divided use)
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Yields about 2 cups
Combine the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend the yolks into the cornstarch mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
Prepare an ice bath as follows:
Use either a large bowl, the kitchen sink or a flat bottomed roasting pan. Be sure whichever you choose is big enough to hold plenty of cold water and ice as well as the bowl or item you need to cool. Add ice and then enough cold water to cme halfway up the side of the item to be cooled. Set the bowl (or item) in the ice bath and make sure that it doesn’t tip over.
Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
Temper the egg mixture by gradually adding about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly. Add the remaining milk mixture to the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking over medium heat, vigorously whisking until the mixture comes to a boil and the whisk leaves a trail in the pastry cream… About 5-7 minutes. As soon as the pastry cream reaches this stage, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. Transfer the pan to the ice bath. Stir occasionally until the pastry cream is cool, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the pastry cream to a storage container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Cover the storage container tightly and refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days
Have a delicious day!