Sweet Fruit Tarts: Make Them, But Don't Bake Them

Fruit tarts with buttery crust, pastry cream, and fresh, unbaked fruit are just what summer called for.

Online Jewish Week Columnist
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I love making pies and tarts. You can find one cooling on my kitchen table almost every Friday throughout the summer months, filling the room with the aroma of peach, apple, strawberry, cherry or any other rich fruit filling. But recently I've found a fun and exciting new method to serve fresh fruit desserts, one without any cooking or added sugar, just the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Enter these mini tarts filled with sweet, rich pastry cream and topped with diced fresh, unadorned fruit.

Pastry cream is the classic filling in this type of dessert, but for a simpler version, fresh whipped cream is pretty tasty as well. The pastry shells can be made a day in advance and the cream three days, but once they are all assembled they should be eaten the same day. This recipe is also easy to adapt to making one large tart instead of smaller ones.

Makes about 24 mini tarts

Ingredients: 
For Tart Dough:
2.5cups (300g) flour
1 cup (200g) butter or margarine
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 large egg
For Pastry Cream:
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1.5 tsp vanilla
3.5 tbsp butter or margarine, softened
Fresh strawberries and kiwis (or fruit of your choice), sliced
Recipe Steps: 
For the crust: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine, then add the flour and mix until no streaks remain. Gather the dough together into one cohesive ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
For the filling: In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In a separate saucepan whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until thick and well blended. While whisking, pour in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, and whisk until combined. Slowly pour in the remainder of the milk while continuously whisking.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil while whisking vigorously. Let boil for 1 minute then remove from heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Dice the butter into pieces, then whisk them in, stirring until fully incorporated. Chill in the refrigerator at least an hour (can be made up to three days in advance).
Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll out on a well-floured surface (continuously reflouring during rolling) until about 1⁄2 centimeter thick. Use to cover either a large tart pan or smaller ones. For a large one, roll the dough to a diameter 2" larger than the pan, gently drape the dough over the dish, fit the dough in to the corners then trim the edges. For little pans, use a round cutter that is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your tart or muffin pans, cut as many circles as possible from the dough and fit in to the molds, rerolling as necessary.
Place all the shells in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Bake them on 375 F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool, then spoon or pipe the pastry cream to fill about 2/3 of each shell. Top with fresh fruit, serve immediately.