Queen of Tartes

 I am a self-professed tarte-baking queen, and today I thought I'd share my methods for whipping up  an easy-peasy, yummilicious fruit tarte. A tarte may look expensive and complicated and like something better left to expert bakeries, but I promise you, once you make your own you'll never want to buy one again.

Any self-respecting cookbook will tell you that when you're baking the crust, you need to weigh the center down with coffee beans or those weird steel disk thingies, but I say: just prick the heck out of it with a fork, freeze it for fifteen minutes before putting it in the oven, and Bob's your uncle (or I would say that, if I were British and could get away with it). We are foregoing perfection in favor of ease here, and no one is going to be able see that the crust is ever so slightly convex once you pile on the toppings.

For the filling, you have a few options; sometimes I'll do a custard, but my favorite is the cream cheese. A drop of liqueur -- rum, the pictured Drambuie, or something like grand marnier -- adds a subtle complexity to the flavor.

Choosing the fruit to top the tarte is absolutely the funnest part of the process. There are no rules. Try every combination you can imagine. Mangoes with grapes? YES. Kumquats and pineapple? Heaven. Seriously, go wild. Aim for a juicy, colorful combination. If there's nothing in season, a can of apricots or peaches is just as lovely.

Start from the outside edge and work your way in towards the middle when arranging the fruit. Each piece should overlap slightly. Ideally you should have at least four different colors of fruits for visual interest (kiwi green, strawberry red, blueberry blue, mandarin orange orange), but if not, try alternating the direction of the circles (clockwise, then counter-clockwise) to create a more dynamic impact.

The last step is the glaze. Apricot jam or jelly works best. Scoop some into a shallow bowl, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, then get your glazing brush and coat each and every piece of fruit. I cannot recommend the rubber glazing brush enough (I found this one in Michael's baking goods section). In the early days I used to try to glaze with the bristle brush we use for basting the Thanksgiving turkey, and boy did that not go well -- fruit nudged out of place, blueberries rolling off onto the floor -- not good. But with the rubber brush, everything stays where it's supposed to and the glaze goes on a treat.

Tarte Shell

1 cup all-purpose flour
5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg

Whisk flour and sugar in mixing bowl. Work in butter with fingers. Stir in egg. Knead dough into ball, wrap in cellophane and chill in refrigerator for 15 mins. Roll out dough and press into 9" tarte tin (or 9 mini tins). Prick crust all over with fork and place in freezer for 15 mins. Preheat oven to 380°F. Bake 10 mins. Lower heat to 350°F and bake 10 more mins.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 pack cream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
1/8 cup sugar
2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
drop of liqueur

Mix all ingredients together and then spread into cooled tarte shell. (It helps if you leave the cream cheese out to reach room temperature before mixing.)
Slice up any bulky fruit and then arrange prettily. Heat up your apricot jam and glaze the fruit. Admire your handiwork and then put in the fridge to chill for an hour or so. Serve up and feel smug when everyone goes into raptures. Enjoy!


Stephanie said...

That looks so so amazing, and so summery!

Stephanie Perkins said...

Your blog never ceases to make my jaw drop. These are LOVELY. I can't wait to make one! Thank you for the recipe!

Steffi said...

Aww, I'd love a piece of this tarte right now! It looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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