Fruit Tartelettes

At the baby shower I catered, I provided two options for dessert and the popular option was the fruit tartelette. It being almost summer, and summertime bringing fresh berries probably contributed to the majority’s choice.

Making the tartelettes became a day-long event for me as I’ve still got a lot to learn about making pastries. One rookie mistake I’ll never make again: forgetting to line the tartelette shells with parchment paper before baking with beans as pie weights. What happens when you forget the lining? The beans sink into the dough, and you’ve got to individually pick out the beans while you’re left with a tartelette shell filled with many little bean-shaped holes. I didn’t plan on spending Friday night picking out beans from the shells dough, but if you know me, you’ll recall I’ve done more daring things.

The tartelettes shaped up nicely in the end, and thanks to the poll results from my Twitter followers, I made the exact quantity of fruit and Nutella tartelettes needed, and the Nutella version will be the subject of my next post.

Fruit Tartelettes
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Frozen tartelette shells (recipe below)
Pastry cream (recipe below)
strawberries, washed and sliced
blueberries, washed
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)

1. Remove the tartelette from the fluted sides of the pan, by placing your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tartelette straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tartelette ring will fall away. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom.
2. Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze over the bottom and sides of tartelette to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry between 20 – 30 minutes. Spread the Pastry Cream into the tart, filling about 3/4 full. Level with an offset spatula.
3. To decorate the tartelette you will need 2 to 3 cups of prepared strawberries and blueberries (you may use other fruits like kiwi, pineapple, oranges, melons). Arranging the fruit on the tartelette can be done either randomly or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. Try to cover all the pastry cream with fruit so that no pastry cream is showing through.
4. After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. Try not to get any glaze on the tartelette shell. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.
5. Fruit tarts are best eaten the same day they are assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Pastry Cream
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
2. 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.
3. When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to 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. 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.

Tart Pastry
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1. While pastry cream is chilling, whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade.
2. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses.
3. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds.
4. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Unwrap, divide dough into 4 equal pieces, and roll out between lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 4-inch rounds. (If dough is soft and sticky, slip onto baking sheet and refrigerate until workable, 20 to 30 minutes.)
6. Transfer dough to tartelette pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling over 4 tartelette pans with removable bottom. Working around circumference of pan, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough with one hand while pressing dough into corners with other hand. 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 tartelette pan to remove excess dough.
7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 to fill 4 tartelette pans with dough.
8. Set dough-lined tartelette pans on baking sheet and freeze 30 minutes.
9. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Take dough-lined tartelette pans out of freezer, press 4-inch square of foil inside frozen tartelette shells and over edges and fill with pie weights. (Beans or rice may be used as a substitute.)
10. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 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. 11. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Set baking sheet with tartelette shells on wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Apricot Glaze
1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon water

1. Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted.
2. Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. Add the liqueur at this point. Let cool until it is only slightly warm.

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