Have you ever bought something and come home to discover that your husband just bought the exact same thing? It’s happened to me many times, not just with groceries, but with big ticket items too, like a whole house fan, camping gear or a 42-foot sailboat (just kidding about that last one).
This time I think the fruit fairy must have sprinkled some fairy dust in my husband’s ears. “Fruit is your friend. Buy more fruit, buy more fruit,” was her mantra. Meanwhile, I was having trouble resisting all those summer fruits that spoke to me too. That’s how we ended up with enough fruit to give even Carmen Miranda (er, Minnie Miranda) a run for her money.
Forget the blueberries, strawberries, peaches and pineapple that you see here. I’ve still got plenty of grapes, cherries and bananas waiting for their moment of glory too. But the blueberries and strawberries were first in line, so I got to thinking about Marie of Proud Italian Cook’s blueberry tart using lemon curd. With different friends coming by two nights in a row, it was a no-brainer to prepare once for separate nights’ desserts. The first night I’d make the tartlets using two different fruits and for the second night, the larger tart with several kinds of fruits.
I made my own pastry shell, but bought the lemon curd from the supermarket and used it straight from the jar on the tartlets, topping it with the fruit and a glaze of apricot jam. We finished off the tartlets quicker than you could say pate brisee.
But I wanted something more than the jellied/jam-like consistency of lemon curd for the base of the large tart -something a little creamier. I could have mixed the lemon curd with yogurt as Marie did in her tart, but I was feeling a little more decadent. I went with whipped cream and added a small amount of the lemon curd. Ka-ching –Jackpot! This is so easy to prepare and tastes so creamy and lemony that I know I’ll be using it as my go-to filling for many tarts to come.
This pastry shell recipe is pretty darn delicious too. I know you can buy those ready-to-use shells in the refrigerated section of the supermarket and I’ve used them too, but there’s really no comparison to a well-made pastry shell with its delicate buttery flavor and tender flaky crumb. Even though it’s not as golden brown as I wanted, it was still fully cooked. I had the oven temperature at 350 degrees, but I’m cranking it up to 375 degrees next time.
I am giving you the recipe to make enough for two 11-inch tart pans so you can use one now and freeze the other one for the future if you like. Just roll in out into a disk about 6 inches in diameter, wrap it well in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for the next time your tart fairy speaks to you too. If you’ve got these little tart pans, the pastry recipe makes enough for about 16 tartlets and one 11-inch tart pan.
I bought my little Swedish tart tins decades ago from some catalog and the box is showing its age. OMG, I just did a Google search under “tart pans” and found the same assortment for $9.99 through Amazon.com in case you wanted to buy some.
To make the little tarts, roll out the dough and turn the the little tart pans upside down on the dough. Cut a shape a little bigger than the pan. Flip it over and press it down into the pan. No need to butter the pan. The dough has enough butter in it and the shell will slip out easily after it’s baked.
Prick the large shell the same way. But I go the extra step on the large pastry shell and cover it with buttered aluminum foil and some hard, dry beans to weigh it down during the first half of baking.
Then take any remaining fruit from the refrigerator and start working on a hat. You never know when there might be a remake of Carmen Miranda movies.
Flaky Tart Pastry (pate brisee)
(enough for two 11-inch tarts or 1 11-inch tart and 18 tartlets)
3 cups flour
4 T. sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
about four Tablespoons ice water
Put the flour, sugar and salt into the food processor and blend. Add the butter and egg yolks and pulse until it has the texture of coarse sand. Add a little of the water while the motor is running - just enough to make it cohesive enough to work. DON”T OVERMIX IT or you’ll have a tough dough.
Remove it from the food processor and place it on the counter or work table. Shape it into two disks and put it in the refrigerator for an hour. (Put one, well-wrapped, in the freezer if saving for a future use.) If you keep it in the refrigerator any longer, I find it becomes so hard to roll out that it cracks on you. I’ve even been known to roll it out without refrigerating at all and it works just fine too. When ready to use, roll out on a floured board and place into the tart pan. Price all over with a fork, then put it in the freezer for 1/2 hour or longer. When ready to bake, line the pastry shell with a buttered piece of aluminum foil and pour in some dried beans. Bake it at 375 for about 8 minutes then remove the aluminum foil and beans. Place it back in the oven and bake it for another 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Fill it with pastry cream, top with fresh fruit and glaze it with some apricot jam that has been slightly heated.
Filling for one large tart
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup lemon curd
Whip the cream in a mixer until it starts to hold together in soft peaks. Add the lemon curd, a teaspoon-full at a time and continue beating just until it’s all blended together.