Fruit Tartelettes

by Sara on August 25, 2009

fruit tartelettes
My obesession with French food reignited when I was asked to make the fruit tartelettes for a family party several years ago. It was the six month anniversary of my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, a wedding that took place at the Beaches Resort in balmy Jamaica. We all had such a wonderful time that we started planning a reunion party before we had even left the resort.

For that original party, and each subsequent annual party, we’ve recreated our favorite foods and drinks, in an effort to relive the experience. It’s a fantastic way to keep a vacation alive, and it’s an event we look forward to every year.

fruit tartelettes

Amazingly, when I started my search for tartelette recipes (our favorite dessert from the resort), I had not yet heard of the Barefoot Contessa. But lo and behold, there was her book about easy French food staring me in the eye from a table in Barnes & Noble. While I followed her recipe to great success that first year, I’ve experimented and made so many changes since then that I truly claim this dessert as my own.

fruit tartelettes

Fruit Tartelettes
makes 6 individual tartelettes

For the crust:
8 T very cold unsalted butter, diced
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 c ice water
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the pastry cream:
1 1/2 c whole milk*
5 large egg yolks (at room temperature)
1/2 c sugar
1 T flour
2 T cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T Grand Marnier
1 T butter

fresh fruit for decorating
1/4 c apricot jam for glaze

Place diced butter in the freezer for 20 minutes. Add flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine. Add diced butter, pulse about four or five times until it forms a coarse meal (there will still be larger chunks of butter).

Add the vinegar to the ice water in a liquid measuring cup. With the food processor running on low, slowly pour in the ice water until the mixture is tacky. You may need to add a little more cold water.

Dump the contents of the processor onto plastic wrap. Form a rough disk and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to a day.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it’s just before the boiling point. You’ll see a skin form on the top of the liquid, and the milk will appear to “dance” underneath the surface.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl. With electric mixer (use paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), beat on medium-high speed until the eggs reach ribbon stage, about four or five minutes. Reduce speed to low and add cornstarch and flour.

Slowly pour in a little scalded milk. Continue pouring, little by little, to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs. When mixed, pour mixture into a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. Don’t worry if it appears to curdle, simply switch to a whisk and it will come together again.

Remove from heat. Add butter, Grand Marnier, and vanilla; whisk to combine. Pour cream through a sieve into a medium-sized bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream, refrigerate until cool.

To bake the crusts, preheat the oven to 425*F and adjust racks to the middle of the oven.

Divide the dough into six equal sized pieces. Generously flour your workboard and rolling pin, and roll out each piece of dough until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Drape over each tart pan and gently press into place, being careful not to stretch the dough.

Place tart pans on two large baking sheets. Cover the crust with small squares of plastic wrap (it won’t melt) and top with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for ten minutes. Remove plastic wrap and beans, dock the pastry with a fork, and bake for another twenty minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Remove shells from tart pans and fill with pastry cream. Top with desired fruit in a decorative pattern. If desired, heat the apricot jam with two teaspoons of water to thin the jam. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the glaze over the fruit.

Refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.

fruit tartelettes

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna August 26, 2009 at 5:41 am

These look gorgeous. So very pretty. Barefoot Contessa is one of my favorites, I have all of her cookbooks, yikes.

Sonya August 27, 2009 at 7:14 am

Wow those look to pretty to eat..almost:) Do you think the crust can still be made without the apple cider vinegar? The reason I ask is because I can not find that here in the netherlands. They have regular but not apple cider. Do you think I could just use something else in place and if so what would you suggest?

Sara August 27, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Donna, I have all of her cookbooks, too. And honestly, I will happily purchase the next – what can I say? Her recipes always work.

Sonya, you can use regular vinegar, white wine vinegar, or even lemon juice. Though I haven’t tried it yet, a little cream of tartar should work, too. The acid helps keep the crust tender – since I’ve started using it in my crusts, the results have been just amazing.

joanne August 27, 2009 at 8:40 pm

hi there, love this recipe! quick question though, what do you mean by covering the tart with small squares of plastic? maybe some pictorial evidence would help! and where do you obtain tart pans, does it come with the pie weights? do help!

jo

Sara August 27, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Joanne, I cut out squares of plastic wrap that are slightly larger than the width of the tart pan, so I can just pour the dried beans on top of the pastry dough (the goal here is to put some sort of material between your weights and the dough, which protects the dough and makes for easy removal when you take the pan out of the oven). You can also use aluminum foil, but if you do, you’ll want to butter the underside of the foil (the part touching the pastry dough), so it doesn’t stick. I use the plastic just because it’s easier to deal with – it doesn’t stick, and I have an easier time removing it when I pull the tarts out of the oven.

You can purchase tart pans here or at a cookware store. They don’t come with pie weights, but those can also be found at cooking stores. Or you can just use dried beans, which is what I do. I simply grab the cheapest bag in the store, then discard them when they come out of the oven.

Does that help? If anything is unclear, please let me know. I can also take some pictures of the process this weekend, and add them to the post.

Sonya August 30, 2009 at 2:32 am

Thanks so much for the tips on using those different options..I have all of those things in my house:)

Sara August 31, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Sonya, I admit, I had no idea that apple cider vinegar wouldn’t be widely available. I feel so naive, and a bit ashamed!

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