A few months ago I tried my hand a classic fruit tart. I'm still proud to say it turned out quite amazing, so much so that it's now one of my go-to desserts. However, hand-making the pastry crust can be a pain (especially if you're throwing a last minute dinner party) so recently I modified the recipe to made individual fruit tarts, this time using puff pastry as a base. They turned out great and while they still took some time, the flaky, store bought puff pastry was a great alternative to homemade pastry dough. I lined it with chocolate, rich pastry cream and freshly cut berries. Mmmmm!
Mini fruit tarts
- Store bought puff pastry dough, e.g. Dufour Pastry Kitchens
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional)
- 1 cup mixed fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, etc.
Make the tart shells: Defrost store bought puff pastry dough for 2-3 hours in refrigerator. On a floured surface, unfold defrosted pastry dough and using a sharp knife or mini tart pans, cut desired tart shape. Mold dough into each tart pan and using a sharp knife (e.g. paring knife), make a small circular indentation into the dough. Make sure not to cut all the way through the dough or else you will end up with a bottomless tart shell. Bake at 375 degrees (or 325 degrees in a convection oven) until thoroughly firm and dry to the touch.
Once tart shell is cool, carefully remove the center of each shell (see below). Melt 1/2 cup chocolate (I used semi-sweet chocolate) and using a pastry brush (or the back of a small spoon, in a pinch) spread the chocolate along the inside the shell. Place in the refrigerator and let dry until chocolate is completely hardened.
Remove center of puff pastry shells
Make the pastry cream: In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Sift dry pastry cream ingredients together
Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. The milk will foam up to the top of pan when done, so watch carefully. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. If you get a few pieces of egg (a result of curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.
Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.
Mix pastry cream over heat until very thick & hard to stir
Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.
Assemble the tarts: Spoon or pipe the pastry cream into the tart, filling about 3/4 full. Level with an offset spatula.
Fill each tart with pastry cream
To decorate the tart you will need 2 to 3 cups of mixed fresh fruit (I used strawberry, raspberry and blueberry). Prepare the fruit by gently washing and drying. De-stem and slice the strawberries from stem to tip, arranging the bigger slices around the edge of the tart. Arrange the strawberry slices around the edge in a circle, until you run out of room. Arrange blueberries and raspberries in middle to cover up remaining pastry cream. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm up. This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. If there are any!
Finished fruit tarts!