18 December

Summer Fruit Tarts

Many years ago at Pasquini Bakery in Denver (closed), I had a blackberry tart that was so good it made my head spin. Of course the blackberries were musty-dusty as they should be, but something was different about this tart.

Both the crust and the filling were much lighter than ordinary custard tart. I examined the pastry cases and did research.

I concluded that the delicate crust was pâte sucrée (which has a little sugar in it. And the light filling was….cannoli filling. I’ve been making this tart ever since, to rave reviews, with any summer fruit.

Crust

Pâte sucrée can be used any time you need pie crust.

Mix: 1 cup flour, 2 tbsp granulated/white sugar, 1/4 tsp salt.

Slice into the bowl: 6 tbsp cold butter

Using your fingers, break the butter into smaller and smaller pieces. As it mixes with the dry ingredients, it will eventually form a mealy texture. Remember to break, not squeeze. This is called “cutting in”.

Once you have an even meal, dribble water into the bowl 1 tbsp at a time, now squeezing the dough together until it forms a ball. As soon as it’s all able to stick together, the dough is done. Do not knead or work the dough.

Use plenty of flour to prevent this delicate dough from sticking. Use a rolling pin or a wine bottle to roll it to a thickness of 1/8-1/4 inch (3-5mm). If you have a tart pan with a removable bottom, roll the dough out directly onto the tart pan so you don’t have to move it. If you will have to move the dough, roll it onto a piece of baking paper. If you don’t have that either, don’t worry. If they dough breaks you can repair it by just pushing on it once it’s in place.

Bake the crust at 350F/175C until just a bit gold is kissing the ivory dough. (12-15 minutes)

Remove from oven and place a handful of semi-sweet chocolate in the middle of the crust. Return to oven for one minute. Then remove the tart and turn off the oven. Use a butter knife to spread the chocolate across the shell.

Let the crust cool. (If you are in a hurry, you can cool it in the freezer for about 10 minutes)

Filling

While the shell is baking, mix 10oz/250g fresh ricotta cheese with 1/2 cup white sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. (If you don’t have real vanilla, you can use brandy or rum or nothing, but please don’t use fake vanilla.)

Spread the ricotta over the tart and then smother with sliced fresh fruit (berries and stone fruit are the best, mango and kiwi are fine too.) Always wait to wash and slice the fruit until the last moment.

When I prepare this to take to a dinner party, I transport the ricotta mix separately so the dough stays crispy. Assemble just before serving. (Takes about 3 minutes.)

Notes:

The black and blueberry tart below is made with home-made mascarpone (recipe from Emiko Davies‘ wonderful site), which is much richer than ricotta so I used less. I prefer the ricotta version.

I generally do not plate this, just give everyone a fork and gather round the tart on a silver tray.

Whenever possible I make one all for myself… Abundance ritual.