Saturday, April 02, 2011

Fruit Tart

Adapted from: Joy of Baking

This was gorgeous! I will definitely make this again when I want a dessert with great presentation value. It wasn't too difficult, but it looked like a bakery purchase. I actually used a different recipe for the crust, because I had to make this gluten-free. I made a crust of crushed pecans, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter and pressed it into a tart pan. I used a gluten-free all-purpose flour in the pastry cream, also, but it all turned out well. I think this tart would also be good with a shortbread-cookie type crust, or a crust with ground almonds, too. Or just a regular tart/pie crust. Use any kind of fruit you want. I made concentric rings of different fruit - halved strawberries around the outer edge, then alternating raspberries and blueberries, then mandarin oranges, with kiwi in the middle. I really like the color combination of the red berries, oranges and bright green kiwi, but use whatever kind of fruit you want. (Click on the link if you want the crust recipe - otherwise make whatever kind of tart crust you want.)

Pastry Cream:
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/8 cup (20 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
3/4 tablespoon (10 ml) liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional)

Apricot Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup (120 grams) apricot jam or preserves
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or water or combination of the two (can also use other liqueurs)

Topping:
2 - 3 cups mixed fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwifruit, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, etc.

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the milk and split vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. (The milk will foam up to the top of pan quickly, so watch carefully.) Remove from heat and whisk a small amount into the egg mixture to temper it. Slowly add the egg mixture to the milk, whisking constantly to prevent scrambled eggs. (If you get a few pieces of scrambled egg in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor. This sugar can then be used in baking where you would like a vanilla-flavored sugar, e.g. pies, cakes, cookies.)

Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Apricot Glaze: Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water (if using) in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps. (If using, add the liqueur at this point.) Let cool until it is only slightly warm.

Variation: If glazing strawberries, raspberries or any other red fruit you can make a red currant glaze. Gently whisk 1/2 cup (125 grams) of red currant jelly over medium heat until melted. Let cool slightly and then lightly glaze the fruit using a pastry brush.

To Assemble Tart: To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto a cardboard cake round.

Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze or melted chocolate over the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry between 20 - 30 minutes. Spread the Pastry Cream onto the bottom of the baked tart shell , filling about 3/4 full.

To decorate the tart you will need 2 to 3 cups (480 - 620 ml) of mixed fresh fruit (such as berries, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, plums, pineapple, and melon). Prepare the fruit by gently washing and drying. Peel and slice the bananas, plums and kiwifruit. The strawberries will need to be sliced also. Arranging the fruit on the tart can be done either randomly or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. Try to cover all the pastry cream with fruit so that no pastry cream is showing through.

After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. Try not to get any glaze on the tart shell. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.

This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves about 8 - 10 people.

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