Writing about food is going to be tough for me today as I have a tummy bug and am feeling rather less than enthusiastic. And that is sad as the tartlets I made with my friend this weekend deserve lyrical praise. So I will do my best.
The topic of fruit tarts has been discussed a few times since I was whisked off to Café Milano a few weeks ago for a spoiling. Their fruit tarts, amongst so many other things, are out of this world. Crazily enough we still felt the need to make our own just to see if the work warranted the taste. It was also my nephew’s birthday party on Sunday so we had the perfect excuse.
Fruit tarts are a combination of a short crust case, cream custard, fresh fruit and a light fruit glaze. The result should be crisp, creamy and tangy all in one mouth full and I think we managed to get just that. I must have eaten at least 10 while we were making them. They were so fresh, light and more’ish.
Spending the night in the fridge, they did lose some of that lovely crisp lightness and I think that in hindsight I would pre make the bases and custard but assemble the tarts just before serving.
Fresh Fruit Tarts
Makes about 50 mini tarts – perfect for a party!
For the pastry
2 cups of flour
¼ tsp of salt
100g of ground almonds
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolk
½ cup castor sugar
Rind of ½ half a lemon
1 Tbsp of lemon juice
2 - 3 Tbsp ice water
Sift your flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, ground almonds, vanilla essence, egg yolks, sugar, lemon rind, squeeze of lemon juice and cold butter cut into cubes. Combine the ingredients by rubbing it between your fingers until well mixed and has formed rough crumbs. Add the iced water to the crumbs to form a dough like mixture.
If you have a food processor, follow the same instructions by blending all the ingredient together to form crumbs and add the ice water at the end to form the dough.
Roll the dough into two balls and refrigerate for an hour or two until the dough is cold.
For the custard
Makes about 500mls
1 cup (250ml) of thick cream
½ cup (250ml)of milk
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla essence or the equivalent in paste or 1 bean seeded
4 Tbsp castor sugar
A pinch of salt
1 Tbsp corn flour
Warm the milk, cream, vanilla essence and half the sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. In a bowl whisk the eggs, half the sugar, salt and corn flour until it is frothy and has no lumps.
Spoon the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture gradually. Once all the milk and egg has been combined, return the mixture to the sauce pan and whisk gently while reheating. As soon as the mixture starts to thicken, remove from the heat and whisk until the thickening process has stabilised. Return to the heat and whisk until it bubbles slightly then remove from the heat and whisk again until it has stabilised.
It is now ready for use. If storing for later use, store in air tight container or cover with cling film but in a container where the custard fills the container and the cling film almost touches the custard. This prevents a skin from forming.
For the fruit
Choose fruit that can hold its shape and has a certain amount of tartness. Berry’s and tropical fruits work well. Figs and plums too. For inspiration look in google images at fruit tarts.
Making the pastry cases
The mini tarts look so elegant and dainty but if time is an issue one large tart is certainly the way to go.
Preheat your oven to 200˚ and place the wrack in the canter of the oven.
Roll your pastry out onto a floured surface and cut out circles of the correct size to fit your mould. I used a silicone mini pastry shell mould which worked like a charm and blind baked the shells using the method in this video clip:
It is quicker and much less fussy.
Take a look at this clip for the traditional blind baking method:
Use one ball of pastry at a time so as to keep your pastry cold and manageable. Roll all the left over bits of pasty into a ball and keep it the fridge, so it can cool again before reusing it.
Once the shells have been baked leave them on a wire rack to cool. Store them in air tight container out of the fridge if you are planning on using them at a later stage.
Once ready to start assembling, get your pastry shells, custard and fruit ready. Spoon the custard into the pastry shells leaving a little space in the shell for the fruit. Arrange the fruit in the desired manner and set the tarts aside on a serving platter.
I feel that glazing the tarts is not essential. In my opinion the flavour and appearance is not especially enhanced and it just add to an already time consuming process.
If however you want to glaze them…
For the glaze
Melt four table spoons of smooth berry or apricot jam with one table spoon of water and paint the fruit with a pastry fruit. The glaze should be very thin and just add glossiness to the fruit.