~Summer's Coming Fresh-Fruit & Pastry-Cream Tarts~
One whirl around the produce section of the grocery store and it becomes crystal clear that Summer is coming to my Northeast. There are fresh berries galore and they're plump, juicy and super-flavorful -- my indicator that our own locally-grown berries will be appearing in our farmers' markets in a few weeks. I couldn't decide between the blackberries or the strawberries, so I bought 'em both, then I picked up a fresh pineapple too. My plan is to serve them as unadulterated and au natural as possible -- by using them "as is" in small, fresh fruit tartlets.
The tart pastry. It doesn't take too much longer to make 21-24 small, 3" individual-sized tartlets than it does to make two, large, 10-12" ones. Both are seriously pretty to look at, and they taste the same too, but when serving times rolls around, the individual-sized ones win. That said, I won't call the food police if you use store-bought pie pastry.
The pastry cream. Some people dream about chocolate. I dream about pastry cream. It's both decadent and naughtily-seductive. Desserts containing this luxurious egg-custard are at the top of my favorite-sweet-things short list. To make 21-24 tartlets, cut the recipe provided below in half (to make 4 cups) and substitute banana extract for some of the vanilla extract.
The fruit & the glaze. Choose the freshest, prettiest fruit available -- any kind or combination will work. To make 21-24 tartlets today, I used a pint each of strawberries, large blackberries and pineapple chunks. It's not an exact science, and, I had some of all three leftover. The glaze is a concoction of 1/2 cup pineapple jam and 2 tablespoons water.
~Step 1. Place the empty tart shells on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Spoon and spread a generous two tablespoons pastry cream into each shell. Decoratively arrange the fruit atop the pastry cream, slicing or dicing fruit, if necessary and on an as-needed basis, to fit -- the fruit you choose will determine the configuration. Each one of these tartlets contain: 1 large whole blackberry, 2 halves of 1 whole strawberry, 2 chunks pineapple diced. Place the tartlets in the refrigerator to chill, 1-2 hours prior to glazing as directed below:
~Step 2. To make the glaze, place 1/2 cup of a light-colored jelly or jam in a 1-quart saucepan with 2 tablespoons water.* Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once simmering and thoroughly combined, 15-20 seconds, remove from heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes. Using a pastry brush and a light touch, dab glaze onto fruit to coat. Refrigerate glazed tartlets, uncovered, 1-2 hours prior to serving. Tarts are best served the same day they are assembled.
*Note: I used pineapple jam today, because I used pineapple to top my tartlets. That said, for a clear, all-purpose glaze that complements all fruit, apple jelly is my go-to choice.
Refrigerate tartlets, uncovered, 1-2 hours prior to serving:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 1-2 large baking pans; parchment paper; 1-quart saucepan; pastry brush
Cook's Note: When I've got a whole lot of plump and juicy store-bought or home-grown strawberries, when I'm finished eating them out-of-hand and before I make ~ Super-Easy Strawberry Preserves ~ in my bread machine, ~ Seriously Simple & Sweet: Fresh All-Strawberry Pie ~ is my favorite use for these short-seasoned Summer berries.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)