Saturday, July 16, 2011

Berry Tartlets

Whenever we are in France we indulge ourselves in, well almost anything, from the beautiful scenery, to the fantastic weather, but mostly we indulge ourselves in the amazing food. One of the things that to me are mandatory are Fruit Tartlets. You can get these at any patisserie and, though there are off course differences, they are always good.

When I'm eating a fruit tartlet it instantly transports me back to warm lazy summer days in France.

This time of year there are a lot of different berries, so when my baby girl came home from school with a whole bunch of berries from the school garden I immediately wanted to make these typical french fruit tartlets. The beauty of these tartlets is that you can use any kind of fruit you like. I love them with raspberries, but other kind of berries are high on the list as well.

I love the combination of the sweetness of the pastry cream combined with the tanginess of the berries. It is a piece of summer on a plate.

Although you can make one big tart I love these in one-person tartlets. It also makes handling the tartlets easier, as the dough is very, very fragile. Which it is supposed to be, but making it into a large tart can be very tricky...

You can prepare everything ahead and assemble the tartlets the moment you need them. It only takes a couple of minutes to put everything together. So it makes these tartlets perfect for a dessert with a huge wow-factor!


Berry Tartlets

Yield: 6 one-person tartlets


For the tartlets:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

For the pasty cream:
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, cut in to bits, at room temperature

1 - 1 1/2 pints berries of your choice
1/4 cup red currant jelly mixed with 1 teaspoon water, for glazing (optional)


For the Tartlets:
Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in.

Stir the egg yolk, to break it up, and add it little by little to the flour, pulsing after each addition. When the egg yolk is completely in, process in long pulses, about 10 seconds, until the dough forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage the sound of the machine will change.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. But keep the kneading to a bare minimum.

Butter the tartlet pans (with a removable bottom). Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F).

Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Because you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil.

Bake the tartlets for another 5-8 minutes until firm and golden brown. Transfer the tartlets to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before filling.

For the pastry cream:
Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and the cornstarch, until thick and well blended.

While whisking continually slowly drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper the egg yolks. Slowly pour in the remaining milk, while still whisking. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.

Scrape the pastry cream into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cold. Or put the bowl in ice cold water, stirring occasionally until thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Assembling the tartlets:
Smooth the pastry cream by giving it a couple of strong turns with a whisk. Spoon enough of the pastry cream into the crusts to come almost to the rim. Even the surface with a rubber spatula. Lay the berries on the cream, arranging them how you like.

For the glazing (optional):
Bring the jelly and the water to a boil. Working with a pastry brush, dab each berry with a spot of jelly, or glaze the entire surface of the tartlets. While I skipped this step it does keep the berries sticking together and to the tartlets, making them slightly easier to eat.

Source: Baking, from my home to yours, Dorie Greenspan

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