Somehow when fresh fruit is added to a dessert, it helps to negate a portion of the calories…it just doesn’t seem as bad for you anymore, does it? That’s exactly how I feel of fruit tartes. The eggy custard of the creme patissiere and the rich buttery crust can’t possibly be that fattening since the layer of fruit on top is sure to clean out your arteries!
I made this favorite dessert of my mom’s for her recent birthday dinner. I forgot how nice it is to work in a big spacious kitchen, especially when doing pastry work. My parents have 2 kitchens, one for Chinese heavy-duty stir-frying where the exhaust hood can literally suck the shirt off your back, and one for light cooking and entertaining. Even then, it still boasts a 5-burner range top, 2 ovens, and ample marble countertops. And they hardly use all this! Nevertheless, I took full advantage and got down and dirty with my dough.
Pastry work is extremely soothing for me. It’s methodical- certain steps must be followed and each step involves using your hands, either gently or with force, but always with some degree of precision. The crust in this recipe is the most time consuming, but if you are up for the challenge, you will be well rewarded with a delicious crumbly piece of delightfulness.
oblong fluted tart pan, with removable bottom
fine mesh sieve
1 egg yolk
1-2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
strawberries, hulled and sliced
golden kiwi**, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp apricot jelly
1 tbsp brandy
1. For the Tart Pastry: Whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into a small brick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at about 1 hour.
2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Unwrap and roll out between lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 6×18 inch rectangle. Transfer dough to tart pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling over tart pan. Working around the edge of the pan, press dough into fluted sides of pan. (If some edges are too thin, reinforce sides by folding excess dough back on itself.) Run rolling pin over top of tart pan to remove excess dough. Freeze for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375F. Set dough-lined tart pan on baking sheet, press foil inside frozen tart shell and over edges and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and carefully remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Set baking sheet with tart shell on wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
4. For the Pastry Cream: Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
5. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
6. When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, and simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Press the custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.
7. Assembly: When tart shell is completely cool, spread cold pastry cream over bottom, using offset spatula or large spoon. Arrange fruit on top of pastry cream, following a design of your choice.
8. Microwave jelly for ~20 seconds. Stir in the brandy. With a pastry brush, gently dab and brush on fruit to glaze. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to let set up. Remove outer metal of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between bottom of crust and tart pan bottom to release, then slip tart onto erving platter; serve.
**The kiwi originates from Southern China. Seeds of the fruit were first introduced to New Zealand circa 1908, where it later flourished. The golden kiwi variety is man cultivated. The taste is sweeter and far less tart than its green brethren. You can find them here in the U.S. during the summer months. They are lighter brown in color, with appreciably less fuzz, and have a characteristic funny little nub at one end.