Fresh Fruit Tart
by Andrea Kavajian, Patissier
A Native of New Suffolk, NY
One of my favorite things to make is a fresh fruit tart when so many berries and stone fruit are at their peak. A summer fruit tart is one of those things that jumps out at you from the window of your local bakery, yet you feel it’s too difficult to make at home. I am sharing this shortbread cookie crust and a custard filling because it’s less work than you think. Topped with a bouquet of your favorite farm stand fruit, your guests will be impressed with the masterpiece that is this tart.
This fresh fruit tart encourages us to use whatever fruit is in season. The idea is to make the tart look like a basket of fruit straight from the farmer’s market. Use a combination of fruit that appeals to your eyes as well as your palate. Fruit selections can include but are not limited to: Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries (cut in half, stems attached), Grapes, Peaches, Pears, Kiwi, Mangoes, Papayas, Fresh figs, Fresh apricots, Bananas, Plums, Limes, and Lemons.
For the tart crust:
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, then add it slowly to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump the dough right into a 10-inch-round, a 9-inch-square, or divide up between several mini false-bottom tart pans. Press the dough evenly and up the sides of the pan(s) with your fingers. Take a rolling pin to the top of the tart pan to ensure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.
Butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil to fit inside the tart shell and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans, rice, or ceramic pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil with the weights and prick the pastry all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.
For the pastry cream:
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp cognac or brandy (optional)
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is light yellow and falls back into the bowl in a ribbon. On low speed, beat in the cornstarch. Bring the milk to a simmer in a large saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour it into the egg mixture. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture is thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the butter, vanilla, cream, and cognac. Strain the custard into a bowl to ensure there are no lumps. Place plastic wrap directly over the custard and refrigerate until cold.
Assembling the tart:
After your pastry cream has cooled completely, remove the plastic wrap and whisk vigorously to loosen the custard. Pour it directly into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Arrange the fruit you have selected in clusters around the tart. Place the larger fruits in piles and spill the berries around to fill in the spaces (see picture). Don’t worry too much about the placement of the fruit. The tart should look casually arranged.
Once your fruit is in place, warm a tablespoon or two of apricot or peach preserves in a small saucepan over low heat. Using a pastry brush, paint the tops of the fruit with the glaze for that signature shine.
Serve with a bottle of sparkling sweet Moscato made by the brilliant Juan Sepulveda at Laurel Lake Vineyards. Pick one up on your next trip to the North Fork!