Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fresh Fruit and Cream Tarts

NOTE: Before you try this recipe, read it through completely. There are many steps and many waiting times. To get your timing right, you must read it through completely first.

Pastry Cream {Chill time: 4 hours}
In a medium heavy saucepan combine:
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Gradually stir in 2 cups half and half cream or light cream. If desired, add one vanilla bean split lengthwise.
Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir one minute more.
Gradually stir half of the hot mixture into 4 beaten egg yolks.
Return all of egg yolk mixture to sauce pan and bring to a gentle boil; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Remove vanilla bean. strain into a bowl. if not using vanilla bean, stir in 1 Tbsp liquid vanilla.
Place bowl of pastry cream into a bowl of ice water; chill for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least four hours before serving. Do not stir.
Makes 2 cups.

Rich Tart Pastry {Chill time: 30 minutes}
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
2 beaten egg yolks
1 T ice water

1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour and sugar. using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until pieces are pea size. In a small bowl still together egg yolks and ice water. Gradually stir together egg yolk mixture into flour mixture. using your fingers, gently kneadthe dough just until a ball forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 - 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough. Roll dough from center to edges into a circle 12 inches in diameter.
3. Transfer pastry into a 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom without stretching it(we used a plain pie plate and it still turned out nicely). Press pastry into the sides and trim the edges. Prick the bottom and the sides of the pastry. Line pastry with a double layer of foil. bake for 8 minutes. remove the foil and bake for 5-6 minutes longer or until shell is golden. Cool shell(s) on wire rack.

Cream Pie:
Divide Pastry Cream evenly among the shells. arrange desired fresh fruit on top of each tart. To serve, remove sides of tart pans. Tarts can be assembled and chilled for up to 4 hours before serving.

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