Fruit Tart with Custard and Berries
One of my favorite things in the world are fruit tarts. Something about the glistening plethora of berries and fruits nestled in a flaky crust just makes my heart sing. I remember having some form of fruit tarts that my parents would pick up from the asian bakery when I was a kid, but I don’t think I really came to truly appreciate fruit tarts until I was in my late 20’s.
I had decided to take a solo trip up to Boston to take in some culture, sights, and some me-time. In my travels, I wondered into Quincy Market and there, in one of the bakery shops, sat a display of small fruit tartlets. Glistening under the incandescent lights of the market, the lightly glazed berries and slice of kiwi looked like little jewels beckoning me to take them home.
The best fruit tarts, in my opinion, combine a flaky, tender crust that is slightly sweet and buttery. I actually prefer a shortbread like crust, but every time I’ve attempted to use a shortbread, my resulting crust is so dense that you end up using the side of your fork to hew through the crust…not exactly the “tender” crust I was looking for. In the end, a basic pate sucree is the perfect crust to do the job.
The elements of a great fruit tart though isn’t just a crust and fruit…oh noooo. There’s also the filling…not just any cheesy run of the mill fruit filling or something. No, in this case, the ideal filling is a luxurious vanilla custard that provides the perfect backdrop for the fruit…like a creme brulee without the fun of the blowtorched sugar part.
Just to up it one extra notch, I also discovered that “painting” the crust with a thin layer of dark chocolate serves as a nice way to “waterproof” the crust and keeps it flaky longer. Besides, isn’t everything just a bit better with some dark chocolate? I certainly think so!
Fruit Tart with Custard and Berries
Adapted loosely from Joy of Baking
For Pate Sucree:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
For Pastry Cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 Grand Marnier orange liquer
3 cups assorted berries and fruit
4 ounces of your favorite chocolate (I prefer dark)
1/4 cup apple jelly
1-2 tablespoons water
To make the pate sucree, pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add egg yolk, and pulse. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until dough just holds together. Turn out dough onto a work surface; shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour (up to 2 days).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center position. Lightly spray or butter and flour a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Evenly pat the chilled pastry onto the prepared pan, covering the bottoms and sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes. Bake chilled crust for 5 minutes and then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until crust is dry and golden colored. Remove and cool completely on wire rack. Crust may be made 2 days ahead of time, just store in air tight container at room temperature.
In small bowl, whisk flour and cornstarch together. In a separate, heatproof large bowl, mix sugar and egg yolks together and then add in flour mixture. Mix until a smooth paste forms.
In a separate saucepan, bring milk and vanilla bean just to boiling…be careful not to scald the milk. Remove from heat immediately and slowly drizzle into egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. If you do get some curdled egg pieces, just sieve the mixture afterwards. Remove vanilla bean and scrape out seeds and add seeds to egg mixture. Pour egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boils, whisking constantly the whole time. When mixture comes to boil, continue whisking for another minute or until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in Grand Marnier. Pour into a clean bowl and cover immediately cover surface with plastic wrap (this prevents a “skin” from forming) and cool to room temperature.
Melt chocolate either in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl in the microwave, heating at 30 second intervals on half power, stirring each time until fully melted. Using a pastry brush, paint the inside of the tart crust thoroughly until all chocolate is used up. Be sure to coat the bottom and the sides. Let chocolate harden, about 10-15 minutes before assembling tart.
To assemble tart, remove crust from tart pan and place onto your serving platter. Gently spread pastry cream onto the bottom of the tart shell using an offset spatula. Assemble fruit on top of cream…let your creativity be your guide here. I’ve found that randomly placed fruit is just as lovely as fruit arranged in concentric circles. If doing concentric circles, it’s best to start from the outside edge and work your way in, using overlapping circles. Once fruit has been arranged, prepare glaze by warming jelly with water in the microwave for 20 seconds until jelly has melted. Stir. Use a pastry brush and gently brush a light coat of glaze on the fruit. Serve
If not serving immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container and bring back to room temperature before serving. This is best eaten the day it is assembled.