Desserts/Pastries

Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

My cousin, T, recently graduated from optometry school.

And to be honest, it kind of trips me out. I still remember him following me and his sister around when he was a kid and now he’s all grown up and taking care of people’s eyeballs.

Yup, I said “eyeballs“. 🙂

Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

For T’s graduation party, I gave him a few options of desserts to choose from for me to make. He chose a fruit tart which worked out great for me since I had been wanting to try out this pastry cream recipe for some time now. It came together beautifully—silky, rich, and delicious. And since it’s so easy to pull together, I turned to Alice Medrich’s  recipe for a shortbread-like tart crust. Buttery goodness!

Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream

And not only was this tart delicious but it’s quite a looker, too! 🙂

Have a great week, Friends!

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Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream
Makes one 10-inch tart

Ingredients:

Pastry Cream (America’s Test Kitchen):
2 Cups Half-and-Half
½ Cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
5 Large Egg Yolks
3 Tablespoon Cornstarch
4 Tablespoon Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into 4 pieces
1½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Crust (From Alice Medrich):
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
¼ Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
¾ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup All Purpose Flour

Topping:
Fresh Blueberries
Fresh Raspberries
Fresh Blackberries
Kiwis, peeled and sliced
½ Cup Apple Jelly

Prepare the pastry cream. Bring the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. As the half-and-half mixture begins to simmer, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the simmering half-and-half mixture into the yolks to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolks back into the simmering saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until the mixture is thickened and a few bubbles burst on the surface, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate the pastry cream until chilled and firm, about 3 hours.

While the pastry cream chills, repare the crust. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl with a fork. Add the flour and mix just until well blended with a pastry blender or a large fork. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the sides and bottom of an 10-inch tart pan. If it seems like the butter is getting too oily and it’s becoming difficult to manipulate the dough, simply put it in the fridge for a few minutes, it’ll become easier to handle. Using a fork, prick the dough all over the bottom and sides. Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of dough and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Press weights to the edges of dough and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and continue baking until deeply golden in color, approximately 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

To assemble, spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the cooled tart shell. Shingle the kiwis around the edge, then a row of blackberries, then raspberries, and finally pile the blueberries in the center. Melt the jelly in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out any lumps. Using a pastry brush, dab the melted jelly over the fruit. Enjoy!

Desserts/Pastries

Fresh Strawberry Tart

Fresh Strawberry Tart

We managed to bring home 6 pounds of gorgeous strawberries that we picked fresh from our day at Tanaka Farms. Because they were perfectly ripe, the berries were a lovely shade of red and utterly sweet and juicy.

I knew we’d polish off a good amount of them just as they were. But since each of us ate our bellies full of the berries at the farm, I wanted to make a few desserts to utilize the rest before they spoiled. It didn’t take too long for us to decide that a fresh strawberry pie would fit the bill perfectly!

Fresh Strawberry Tart

I had initially wanted to make a pie just like the ones we used to order from Marie Callendar’s that were piled high with whole strawberries and glistened with a bright red glaze. But my sis, P, suggested I try out Alice Medrich’s shortbread tart crust. It’s one of her “go to” recipes because the flavor is stellar and it’s super quick and easy to pull together. I followed her advice and our fresh strawberry pie turned into a fabulous fresh strawberry tart with a buttery shortbread crust.

If you’ve never tried Alice Medrich’s tart crust before, you simply MUST! It comes together so quick due to the fact that it uses melted butter and you don’t need to roll out the dough.

Fresh Strawberry Tart

If you read the recipe below, you’ll notice that I also used some fresh raspberries in the tart. Normally I wouldn’t have but I somehow used up so many of the berries in our other strawberry dessert that I needed something extra to fill in the spaces. However, it’s completely up to you if you’d like to add them or not.

I took the extra step of individually dipping each strawberry into the glaze before placing them into the crust. Most recipes will toss the strawberries in the glaze and then pour all the contents into the crust. This can often result in way too much glaze and the end result can be overly sweet and goopy. It definitely was unnecessary for our tart since our strawberries were so naturally sweet. So although the extra step may seem a bit much, it’s really worth it.

The finished tart is quite the show stopper and tastes even better than it looks. And with the delicious strawberries that we picked ourselves from Tanaka Farms, I can honestly say, it doesn’t get any fresher than this 🙂

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

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Fresh Strawberry Tart
Makes one 8-inch tart

Ingredients:
Crust: (From Alice Medrich)
8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
¼ Cup Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Salt
¾ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 Cup All Purpose Flour


Filling
:
1 Quart Strawberries
½ Cup Raspberries (optional)
3/4 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Strawberry Gelatin
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
¼ Cup Sugar (more if berries aren’t sweet enough)

Prepare the crust. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl with a fork. Add the flour and mix just until well blended with a pastry blender or a large fork. Don’t worry if the dough seems too soft. Press all of the dough very thinly and evenly into the sides and bottom of an 8-inch tart pan. If it seems like the butter is getting too oily and it’s becoming difficult to manipulate the dough, simply put it in the fridge for a few minutes, it’ll become easier to handle. Using a fork, prick the dough all over the bottom and sides. Place a large piece of parchment paper on top of dough and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Press weights to the edges of dough and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights and continue baking until deeply golden in color, approximately 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the filling. Mix together the sugar, gelatin, and cornstarch. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Whisk in the dry ingredients and cook until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Dip each strawberry into the glaze and arrange them in the crust. Dip each raspberry and arrange them in between the strawberries. Chill  the tart for at least 2 hours before serving.

Desserts/Pastries

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

One of my staff members L-O-V-E-S cupcakes…Red Velvet, in particular. And for the past two years, I have made her Red Velvet cuppies to celebrate her birthday. But this year had to be fabulous for “P” so I was on the hunt to take a different spin on the old favorite.

Inspired by the recent swarm of postings featuring Red Velvet Cake Pops, Red Velvet Cookies, and Red Velvet Ice Cream, I decided to try out Better Homes and Gardens’ “Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies”. I liked the idea of a small cookie that “P” could enjoy that wasn’t too sweet but paid homage to her beloved favorite cuppie.

The BHG recipe was pretty easy to make but I found that it wasn’t exactly accurate.

  • They said to use a 1½ inch round cutter but I found that it was too small–especially compared to the photo of the cookie that they displayed . A 2½ inch round cutter was much more accurate for the quoted 2 dozen cookies
  • 3 ounces of white chocolate is definitely not enough to dip the cookies in—double it!

The recipe I included below is directly from BHG. A few of my suggestions to enhance the recipe would be:

  • Use an additional 3 tablespoons of butter.
  • Up the granulated sugar to ½ cup.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • I like my red velvets REALLY red and used an additional ½ tablespoon of red food coloring

Overall, these cookies were pretty fun and “P” enjoyed them. I think with the listed modifications, they would be awesome! I also liked how the white chocolate was reminiscent of the cream cheese frosting found on traditional red velvet cupcakes. Will it replace the beloved Red Velvet Cuppie? Maybe not. But it does offer a fun alternative–and who couldn’t use a new makeover every once in awhile? 🙂

 

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

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Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
From Better Homes and Garden

Ingredients:

1¼ Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons  Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
½ Cup Unsalted Butter, cut up
1 Tablespoon Red Food Coloring
3 Ounces White Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ Teaspoons Shortening
Finely Chopped Pistachios or Rainbow Nonpareils (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Cover and process with on/off turns until combined. Add butter and red food coloring. Process with on/off turns until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Process until mixture just forms a ball.*

On a lightly floured surface, knead dough lightly until nearly smooth. Roll or pat dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured 1-1/2-inch round cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and reroll.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.

In a heavy small saucepan, melt white chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with pistachios or nonpareils. Let stand on waxed paper until set. Makes about 24 cookies.

UPDATE: If the dough is too soft to roll out, chill it in the fridge for a 5-10 minutes. Also, if you taste them directly after baking, they will be really crumbly and almost flavorless. These shortbread cookies need to be “aged” a bit and will improve in flavor/texture the next day after they’re baked.