Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Spring Fresh Fruit Tart

Today was the first day I allowed myself to believe that spring really has arrived!

Noah and I were heading down the front path on our way to the produce market, when I spotted some bright green tips poking out of the earth through the mud and slush. My daffodils! My first though was that I must have planted them too shallow, because this was much too early for them to be greeting the sun. Great. Getting off on the wrong foot for my gardening season already.
But as we walked along, I scrutinized all the neighbors flower beds and sure enough, I saw plenty of other signs of bulbs m
aking an appearance.
Spring has arrived!

Now, it’s not quite warm enough to be saying good bye to all our comforting, hearty winter dishes, and I’m sure I’ll still be making the occasional roast chicken or rice pudding, but this fresh fruit tart is like a foreshadowing of great things to come. U.S. strawberries are affordable at the markets now and there’s plenty of flavorful fruit to fill up a tart.

Happy Spring!

Fresh Fruit Tart

All-purpose flour, for dusting
Tart dough
½ cup sugar
½ vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla
An assortment of fresh, seasonal fruit, about 2 cups sliced
Pastry cream

On a well floured surface, roll out tart dough and line a tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim dough flush with the pan and prick all over with a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Line the tart with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are golden, 15-17 minutes. Remove parchment a
nd weights. Return to oven; continue baking until golden brown all over, about 15 minutes. Cool.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar with ¼ cup wate
r and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat. Set aside to cool.

To assemble:
Pour cold pastry cream into the cooled tart shell and smooth with a spatula. Arrange fruit on top however you desire. Using a party brush, gently brush vanilla syrup over fruit. Serve immediately.
Serves 8.

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in two
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove vanilla bean, scrape pod with the tip of a knife to remove seeds. Add seeds to custard and discard bean.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium speed until butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Tart Dough

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and confectioners’ sugar. Mix on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
Add egg yolks, and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add ¾ cup flour, and mix on low speed just until flour is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add remaining ¾ cup flour along with the salt and cream, and mix until flour is no longer visible, about 1 minute.
Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.


Amber said...

How lovely that you are seeing the first signs of Spring! It's mango season here so I guess that's our sign of Spring:)

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