SUMMER FRUIT TART ADDICTION
Honestly, summer is my favorite time of year...I love when the weather turns warm and days (and daylight!) so long; attitudes feel more carefree and New York City comes alive. The farmer's markets are always flush with fruits and vegetables, and, this weekend, it was overflowing with all sorts of berries (raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, cherries, currants & strawberries). To me, this just signifies the official start of summer, and, if you follow my IG you'll know this to be true, I invariably have some form of a fruit tart on my counter throughout this time. I wanted to share with you some go-to's - easy options so you can freestyle your own tarts this summer.
I have 3 go-to crusts that I use depending on my mood, if I plan to bake the filling and who I’m hosting!
(1) I love a classic, homemade tart dough (recipe: here). I keep mine a bit low on the sugar, so I can use it for sweet and savoury crusts. Doubling the recipe is key and allows you to freeze some to have for later. This is a great dough to use for both a filling you have to cook or one you don't have to cook.
(2) Of course, already-made and frozen puff pastry is another way to go. Who doesn’t love that flakey, buttery crust? Mixed with a layer of pastry cream and fresh fruit....This is what I use for my South African Milk Tart (pictured below). I like to do an initial blind-bake and then fill - this weights it down so it doesn't puff too much.
(3) My third is for my gluten-free friends - a super easy, gluten-free pecan crust.
You take 1 ½ cups raw pecans and pulse in a food processor until chopped. Throw in 2 tablespoons unsalted, melted butter, 1 tablespoon honey, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 egg white and pulse until a fine meal. It will be a bit wet. Press into a tart shell and bake at 375° F for 15 minutes. Done.
(1) Baked custard - One of my favorite tarts is this South African Milk Tart. The creaminess of the cooked custard filling with the berries on top……sooo good. It's not too egg-y and has a hint of cinnamon. I love that the beaten egg whites also lighten the custard.
(2) Stovetop custard - I also love to make a quick stovetop custard (or pastry cream) instead of the baked custard in the milk tart recipe. All you need is some sugar, eggs yolks, corn starch, vanilla bean and milk! Ok, so sometimes I substitute the milk for Champagne or a nice Prosecco…. The process is simple:
In a medium pot, simmer 2 cups milk with a vanilla bean cut in half and seeds scraped out in to milk and remove from the heat.
Separately, bring a pot of water to boil for your double boiler. In a metal bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar until the mixture is a nice pale yellow. Add ¼ cup cornstarch and whisk away any lumps. Slowly stir in the warmed milk mixture and fit the bowl over the boiling water (without letting it touch the water) and constantly stir until the consistency starts to thicken.
Remove from heat and cover the top directly with plastic wrap and let come to room temp before using. You can also whip some cream and fold into this pastry cream to make it lighter.
(3) No-cook cream filling - A final option is to make a no cook cream filling and keep the tart refrigerated. This is a bit like a lightened panna cotta. Bloom 1 teaspoon gelatin in 2 tablespoons cold water. Whip 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks with 2 tablespoons regular or coconut sugar (you can make this sweeter if you like. taste and adjust). Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla and fold in 4 ounces of mascarpone cheese. Quickly blast the gelatin-water mixture in the microwave for 5 seconds or so until it's melted and fold that into the cream mixture as well. It sets up very quickly in the fridge - just make sure to use it in a completely cooled tart or it will melt away!
FILL AND ASSEMBLY
Unless you are baking your custard, the tart shells should be blind-baked and cooled before you assemble.
Now, in terms of what goes on top, this is the time for you to experiment and be creative. Seriously, whatever is the sweetest and in season works, and experiment to see how you like to arrange your fruits. I looove cape gooseberries, but apricots and strawberries pair so well together. It will all go!
If you want some extra sheen, microwave a bit of apricot preserves and paint the fruit with it. You can also just simply sift a bit of powdered sugar too - up to you....