Aug 25 2009
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.
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.
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.