PARISIAN FRUIT TARTS

This type of a tart—a cookie dough crust, covered with a thin layer of pastry cream and an assortment of glazed fruit—has been the mainstay of elegant pastry shops in Paris and many other places for the better part of a century. In the past, the fruit was carefully arranged in concentric rows in the crust and was then painted with a simple glaze. Nowadays, the arrangement has gone out the window and the fruit is mixed together with the glaze fruit-salad style, making a tart that is more casual, and manages to pack in a lot more fruit. You want to use berries, kiwi (more for color than anything else), diced pineapple, and maybe some mango. Avoid fruit that would discolor on standing such as apples, pears, or peaches, or anything that would be excessively juicy, such as melon. Aside from that you can make your own assortment of fruit. This is essentially a summer tart, best when all the fruit and berries are in season and at the height of flavor.

Six 4- to 4 1/2-inch tart crusts made from Cookie Dough, recipe follows


Pastry Cream

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup sugar

 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 4 egg yolks

 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Topping and Glaze

About 5 cups of assorted fruit and berries, such as rinsed and dried blueberries; picked over but unwashed raspberries; rinsed, drained, hulled, and halved small strawberries; peeled, halved and sliced kiwis; peeled and cored pineapple cut into 3/4-inch dice; peeled and diced mango

3/4 cup apricot preserves

  1. For the pastry cream, bring the milk, cream, and half the sugar to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the flour, then whisk in the yolks. Whisk a third of the simmering milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the milk to a simmer and whisk in the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Allow to boil, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Scrape the cream into a glass bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Chill until cold.
  2. After the pastry cream is completely cold and you are ready to assemble the tart, layer a little of each fruit at a time in a large bowl, repeating the layers until you have used all the fruit—this method will cut down on mixing and bruising the fruit too much later on.
  3. To make the glaze, combine the preserves and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and stir well to mix. Strain into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the glaze reduce to about 2/3 its original volume, then pour it into a shallow bowl and let it cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully spread 1/6 of the chilled pastry cream in each tart crust. Don’t whisk or beat the pastry cream or it might liquefy. Just scrape it into the crust and use a small metal offset spatula to spread it evenly.
  5. Drizzle the cooled glaze over the fruit and use a large rubber spatula to gently toss the fruit and coat with glaze. Scrape the glazed fruit over the pastry cream neatly, making sure it comes all the way to the edge of the crust and mounds evenly in the center.
  6. Unmold the tarts and slide them from the pan bases to a platter.

Serving: This dessert doesn’t need anything else to embellish it.

Storage: Try to assemble the tart as close as possible to the time you intend to serve them, though they can certainly wait a few hours at a cool room temperature. If you do want to assemble these at the last minute, keep the fruit separate so that the berries don’t stain the other fruit. Leave the glaze in the pan and just reheat it gently. Then all you’ll have to do is to spread the pastry cream in the crusts, mix the fruit with the glaze, and arrange the fruit in the tart shells.

Cookie Dough Tart Crust

2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract, optional

2 large egg yolks

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  1. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on lowest speed until well mixed, then increase to medium speed and beat until lightened, about 3 minutes. Beat in the extracts, then the egg yolks, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater and beat in the flour on lowest speed. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead the dough together 3 or 4 times to make it smooth. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and wrap in plastic. Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling.
  2. Soften one of the pieces of dough at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then roll and line the tart pan, severing the excess dough at the rim of the pan. Repeat with remaining dough. Pierce the bottom of the crusts all over with a fork and chill them. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 375˚F.
  3. Place the tart crusts in the oven and bake until set and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, checking often to burst any bubbles that might form.
  4. Cool the crusts on a rack.