It seems wrong to guide you through the decoration of your fruit tart, since that final step really is a good opportunity for personal expression and play. Go wild with your final design, but do pick fresh fruit for optimal color and flavor. Think: hulled and halved strawberries, whole blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, peeled and sliced kiwi, or orange supremes. Try to keep the fruit in a single layer for a good ratio of fruit to filling to crust. And for the prettiest presentation, hold off on assembling the tart up to a few hours before serving—this minimizes the chance of weeping fruit. (That being said, mine is actually holding up covered in the fridge, crispy crust and all, still just as beautiful 24 hours later. So if you need to prepare the tart more than a few hours in advance, no one will complain.)
The addition of heavy cream in the tart dough yields a crust that, to me, tastes like an oversized Dutch shortbread cookie (you know those ones in the blue tin with the sanding sugar all over them). It’s so buttery and rich, and I love it even more than tart crusts that use egg yolk. I fill the baked crust with a thick, luscious pastry cream that’s not too sweet or overpowering with vanilla. And I use fine-grain sea salt for its mild flavor and easy distribution. Note: In a pinch, you can use 2% milk, but whole milk yields the richest flavor and texture. —Jerrelle Guy
Test Kitchen Notes
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- Makes 1 (9 ½-inch) tart
(about 1 ¾ cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
(about 10 tablespoons) confectioners’ sugar
fine-grain sea salt
(1 ½ sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
cold heavy cream
- Pastry cream and fruit
large egg yolks
(about 7 tablespoons) granulated sugar
(about ¼ cup) cornstarch, sifted
pure vanilla extract
2 to 2 1/2 cups
fresh fruit (such as hulled and halved strawberries, whole blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, peeled and sliced kiwi, or orange supremes)
- In a large food processor, add the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the salt, and blend on high for about 5 seconds to combine—close the feed tube to prevent any confectioner's sugar from spraying out. Remove the top and scatter 12 tablespoons of the cubed butter evenly over the flour mixture, and then pulse in short bursts until the butter is about the size of peas and slightly smaller. Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream through the feed tube, continuing to pulse in short bursts until the mixture begins to clump together into large pieces—this will take about a minute and may seem like it won't come together, but it will. Once the mixture resembles wet, clumped sand, dump it out into the center of a large sheet of plastic wrap, and use the plastic to help compress the mixture into a smooth flat disc. Refrigerate the disc for 1 to 2 hours.
- While the dough is chilling, make the filling by heating the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam and bubbles form around the edges, 4 to 6 minutes.
- While the milk is heating, place a heat proof mixing bowl over a damp kitchen towel to keep it from sliding while you work. To the bowl add the egg yolks, granulated sugar, sifted cornstarch, salt, and vanilla, and whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly stream the hot milk into the egg-mixture, whisking vigorously, then then return the mixture back to the saucepan.
- Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat until very thick, whisking frequently, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat, and whisk in the 3 tablespoons butter. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, pressing the sheet directly onto the surface of the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Place the filling in the fridge to chill completely, at least 3 hours or until you’re ready to assemble your tart.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment to about 12 ½ inches in diameter. Transfer the crust to a 9 ½ inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Save the parchment off to the side to use during baking. Gently lower the crust into the corners of the tart pan, being careful not to stretch the dough, and lightly press the dough into the sides of the pan. To remove the excess dough, run your rolling pin over the top of the pan, pinching off the overhang. This method also helps create a slightly larger lip on your crust than trimming with a knife would. Transfer the crust to the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the frozen crust from the fridge, and lay one of the used sheets of parchment over top, being sure there’s lots of overhanging to grab onto once it’s filled with weights. Fill the pan with pie weights or dried beans, and bake the crust in the center of the oven for 20 minutes before removing the parchment and weights. If any air bubbles form, gently press them down with the back of a spoon until they deflate before continuing to bake for another 8 to 10 minutes. The crust should be lightly golden brown in the center and slightly darker around the rim. It will harden as it cools.
- Remove the crust from the oven and carefully pop the crust away from its fluted metal mold. Transfer the crust and metal base to a cooling rack, and allow at least 30 minutes to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the crust will be crisp and easily slide away from the metal base.
- When you’re ready to assemble your tart, place your cooled crust on a serving tray. Remove the filling from the fridge, whisk it until smooth, then spread it evenly into the crust. Arrange the fresh fruit in a single layer on top of the pastry cream in whatever design you prefer.
- In a small bowl, combine the apricot jam with 1 tablespoon of water and heat the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Strain the hot jam through a sieve to remove any pieces of fruit. Using a pastry brush, gently paint the thinned jam over the arranged fruit to make it shine. Slice and serve.