Monday, October 11, 2010

Mini Fruit Tarts

The last time I made a dessert at my brother's request, it was to replace something he'd eaten. (Guard your food!) Well this time, it was another story entirely. See, I have one major fear. Bugs. Flies, ants, spiders, cockroaches, beetles - I am terrified. It has long been established practice in my house that upon sight of an offending creature, I scream for help. In high school, I would offer my brother $1 to kill anything that I spied late at night. These days though, I'll call his name for exterminator duty and he'll ask "What will you make me?"

After a particular insect removal incident, (one lady bug and one spider) the bill was settled with these mini fruit tarts. They're filled with pastry cream and topped with slices of fresh fruit.

Now, I have to admit that I didn't make the crusts by hand. Time was not my friend, and store-bought, frozen crusts were. I was thinking about using the crust from these lemon tartlets, and you can too.
I topped these with strawberries and kiwis, but you could also use any berries, sliced grapes, pieces of mango, and plenty of things I'm not thinking of right now. You can also make one 9" tart, and arrange different fruits around the whole thing.
P.S. Sometime over the weekend I had my 50,000th visit to this site. That is crazy! Thank you all so much for visiting, and commenting, and for those of you brave enough to try anything, I love, love, love to hear about your own baking adventures. So as always, if you have any questions, comments, experiences - e-mail me at bakingandmistaking [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Tip of the Day:
Desserts calling for fresh fruit, and these especially, are really best eaten immediately after assembly. Here I only assembled those that I thought would be eaten, and kept bare shells and spare fruit and pastry cream to make more when the need arose.

Recipe: (from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Pastry Cream:
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil.
In a separate saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together until thick and well blended.
While whisking, pour in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, and whisk until combined. Slowly pour in the remainder of the milk while continuously whisking.
Place the pan over medium heat, and bring to a boil while whisking vigorously.
Let boil for 1 minute the remove from heat.
Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Dice the butter into pieces, then whisk them in, stirring until fully incorporated.
Chill in the refrigerator. Keep tightly covered for up to three days.

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