No matter which pastry shop I’m in, and no matter how many complex and beautiful entremets sit behind the glass cases, the colorful fruit tart has always managed to call out to me. Simple? Yes. But its taste is second to none, and you’ll always find one sitting in my order of 5-6 cakes when I walk out of a pastry shop in Japan. Although fruit tarts are universal enough to be found anywhere, I find the ones in supermarket aisles way too sweet (yes, it’s you Safeway) and the ones in cake shops too expensive. After all, it’s nothing more than a sweet pastry crust painted with a chocolate shell and crème pâtissière topped with an abundance of fresh fruits. So I whipped one up, posted the pictures onto FB (which prompted an almost immediate phone call from my aunt asking why I didn’t inform her so she could have some), and stuffed my face with half of the 18cm tart I made.
The following recipe makes one 18cm tart shell and about 8 mini ones.
150g Unsalted Butter
100g Powdered Sugar
30g Almond Flour
250g All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste
500g Whole Milk
100g Egg Yolks (about five, since one yolk weighs 18-22g)
1/2 Vanilla Bean
25g Cake Flour
Fresh fruit of your choice (mine has raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, orange slices, and kiwi)
- Cream the butter until soft and smooth with a paddle attachment.
- Mix in the powdered sugar, almond flour, and the vanilla bean paste.
- Beat in the egg and mix until incorporated. The mixtures should have the consistency of wet sand.
- With the paddle attachment, mix in the flour and salt until just incorporated.
- Pound the dough into a thick, flat disc and wrap with cling wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Generously butter your tart molds.
- Break off pieces of the dough large enough to cover your tart molds. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough with a rolling pin to a 3-4mm thickness (you can eyeball this).
- Line the molds with the dough, and be sure to press the dough into the crevices (especially if you have fluted tart molds).
- Stick your molds back into the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the dough relax.
- To blind bake, line your molds with coffee filters and fill with baking weights.
- Bake at 175° Celsius (or 350° Fahrenheit) for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Baking time depends on the size of your mold (so the tiny ones take less time).
- Carefully lift the baking weights and filters out, and gently take each crust out of their molds to let cool on a cookie cooling rack.
- Put whole milk, half of the sugar, and a split vanilla bean into a pan and heat. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and add in the rest of the sugar.
- Add in the pre-sifted cake flour/cornstarch to the egg yolks and gently mix. Over-whisking will form gluten.
- Boil the milk, and take away the vanilla pod.
- While whisking the egg yolks quickly, pour in 75% of the boiling milk. Return the mixture to the pot and heat on medium fire. Whisk continually until the cream thickens.
- Transfer finished cream to another bowl at once and let it cool.
- Apply a thin layer of melted chocolate to the inside of each pie crust (make sure to get the edges too) so that the cream filling doesn’t make the crust soggy.
- Pipe in crème pâtissière until 80% full.
- Layer with chopped fruits and apply neutral glaze.
- Pâte sucrée dough has the tendency to warm and soften quickly, so try to work as quickly as you can. I keep my dough in the refrigerator and just break off one piece at a time. If it softens too much, stick the dough back into the refrigerator to let it harden. A useful trick for rolling out dough for a bigger mold is to use parchment paper. Simply sandwich the dough in between two large pieces of parchment paper and roll out your dough that way. Once you’ve reached desired thickness, place the dough on a large jelly pan and refrigerate it for 30-60 minutes to let it harden. You can just peel the parchment paper off when you’re ready to line your tart mold.
- When blind baking, you can also use parchment paper to place under your baking weights. I use large coffee filters because they’re more pliable, and doesn’t stick ugly creases into the mold (especially the small ones). For baking weights, I used pinto beans, but you can use rice, other beans, or even commercial ceramic ones.
- Neutral glaze can be hard to acquire in a typical grocery store (I ordered mine online), so you can skip it if you want. However, it helps to lock in the moisture of the fruit while it cools in the refrigerator. And who can say no to a shiny gleam?