Friday, August 1, 2008
French Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Go to any patisserie in France and you are sure to see these amazing-looking fruit tarts in the window. They look so complicated, so fancy and so impossible to recreate, but in reality....they are easy as tart. Bwa hahahahaha.
Seeing all the great fruit in the grocery store these days, I decided it was high time I make one of these fruit tarts. So I got the fruits that I usually see most ofen in France: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and kiwi fruit.
First I made the crust. This is a wonderful shortbread crust, but it is not tough and has a great crumb. It is not overly sweet so it doesn't take over your tart. It's quite the perfect tart dough.
While that was baking, I made the vanilla pastry cream. The trick here is to be sure not to scald your milk, or you will have clumps in your cream. Also be sure to gradually add your eggs so they won't cook in the hot milk. Otherwise, as long as you keep your eye on it and don't overcook, the vanilla pastry cream is really simplet to make and takes no time at all. I refrigerated that overnight, and the following day I put it all together before leaving on a cookout with friends. They ooh-ed, the ahh-ed, they ate and ate and wanted more. It was really a success. So much so that I think I should make this one a summertime staple, and I think it would make great little mini tartlets for a reception, or similar.
For the Tart Dough:
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
9 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Put all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the pieces of unsalted butter over the top of the dry ingredients, and pulse until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. Break up the yolk a bit before you add it to the food processor, and then add it and process in long pulses until the dough comes together, you will hear the noise of the motor change.
Buttter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You want to keep it crumbly here, it doesn't have to be perfect. Freeze crust for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and fit it (buttered side down) over the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet, bake the crust for 25 minutes, then remove the foil. Continue baking until the crust turns golden brown (don't let it burn!) about 8 - 11 more minutes.
Let cool. You can do this and store it up to 5 days before you need to serve it.
Vanilla Pastry Cream:
2 c. whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1 1/2 pieces of vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
3 1/2 Tb unsalted butter, but into pieces and at room temp.
Boil the milk and the vanilla (if using beans, scrape the seeds into the milk and include the pods)in a small saucepan. As this is heating, in a medium saucepan whisk the yolks with the sugar and cornstarch, until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 3/4 cup of the hot milk in order to warm the yolks. Continue whisking as you slowly add the rest of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly, bringing it to a boil. Keep mixture at a boil, continuing to whisk, for about 1-2 minutes, and remove from heat.
Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until they are fully incorporated. The pastry cream will be smooth and silky, not clumpy. Scrape cream into a bowl and let it cool off. You can place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the cream so you don't get a skin. Refrigerate until it is cold and ready to use. You can keep it for up to 3 days.
When you are ready to serve your tart, pour the cooled pastry cream (give it a pass or two with a whisk to incorporate it again) into the tart shell. Add fruits of your choice (I find that berries or fruit that isn't too juicy works the best) over the top. If you want a glaze, use about 1/3 cup of jelly of your choice and one teaspoon of water, boil it, let it cool, and using a pastry brush "paint" your fruit.