Citrus and Berry Tartlets
Last Monday, during my second week of culinary school, we learned how to make pate sucree, a classic French pastry dough used to make sweet tarts. Though it was a busy day in the kitchen, I was excited to finally learn how to make a classic tart filled with homemade pastry cream and fresh fruit.
Though I’ve made my share of desserts and, most definitely, cupcakes, I haven’t had a lot of experience making tarts. Mostly because I’ve always found them a bit intimidating. However, they are also one of my favorite desserts and what I am drawn to in bakery and patisserie windows. They are so elegant and timeless!
In an effort to practice some of my newly acquired skills and techniques, as well as share an actual recipe for those of you following along in my journey (thank you!), this weekend I decided to make these citrus and berry tartlettes once again, except this time in my run-of-the-mill, apartment kitchen.
To add my own little twist, I made two variations: a berry tartlette, filled with raspberries and strawberries, as well a more seasonal tart, filled with fresh grapefruit and orange segments!
However, you can easily make your own variation with any fruit you on hand, or a combination of several! Don’t be afraid to be creative and go outside the box. Though this recipe is time-intensive, it is relatively simple in technique and easy to follow along.
If you do not have tart rings, don’t fret, you can still make these with regular tart pans (preferably ones with removable bottoms), just be sure to bake the tart crust completely before assemblage. Though I used 4” inch rings, feel free to adapt to whatever size you have on hand. You could also make one large 8” or 9” inch tart, as well, just be sure to adjust baking times accordingly.
One of the main lessons in school was the importance of making the tart all about the fruit, and not the crust or pastry cream. In order to do this, roll the tart dough thinly (roughly 1/8” thick) and fill the shell less than halfway with pastry cream. This ensures that the fruit will be the star of the show!
For added fun, Connor and I threw together this fun little video of the whole baking process. It was a lot of fun, but I totally have a new appreciation for video bloggers—it is hard and time-consuming work. Hope you all enjoy it!
Pate Sucree Dough:
- 12 ounces all-purpose flour
- 8 oz unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
- 4 ounces granulated sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 5 ounces granulated sugar
- 0.75 ounces cornstarch (or .5 ounces arrowroot powder)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 oranges and one grapefruit, segmented OR
- fresh strawberries and/or raspberries
- ~1/2 cup apricot jam
- Prepare Dough: Scale out ingredients. Combine flour and salt. Using bench scraper and countertop, chop in cold, unsalted butter until butter is finely distributed.
- Pour sugar over flour mixture and incorporate thoroughly.
- Create well in center of mixture. Add whole egg, zest, and vanilla to well and using hands and bench scraper, incorporate wet ingredients by pressing mixture together as you combine.
- Using the “fraisage” technique, use the heel of your hand to press down and smear dough onto countertop. Push back together and repeat until smooth and all ingredients are well incorporated—the dough will have a slight shine.
- Place dough in between parchment paper and using hand or rolling pin, roll out until roughly 1/2” – 3/4” thick. This will help making the rolling process later easier. Place dough on baking sheet and let rest in refrigerator for about 45-60 minutes.
- Freeze any remaining dough in flat disk wrapped in plastic wrap for future use.
- Mold and Blind Bake Tart Shells: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove cooled dough from refrigerator. You may want to work with half the dough at at time. Throughout the process, dust rolling pin, dough, and surface lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Using rolling pin (starting from the center of dough to the outside), roll out thin to about 1/8” thickness. Throughout the process, pick up dough carefully and flip around ensuring it does not stick. **If dough cracks, gently press back together with hand and continue to roll.
- One at a time, place mold on top of rolled dough and use knife to cut circle of dough—leaving about 1 inch extra to form sides of each tart. Place tart ring on parchment lined baking tray and gently place dough circle on top, using fingers to push in dough and gently shape each tart. Make sure to press dough tightly inside corners and sides. Repeat until all tarts are assembled. Scraps of dough can be pressed together and rolled out again as you go.
- Dock (pierce with fork) the bottom of each tart. Press small square of aluminum foil into each tart, ensuring it reaches into corners and fill with dried beans until it just reaching the top. This ensures that the tart will retain it’s shape during the blind-baking process.
- Bake tart shells for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and take out aluminum foil with beans. Place tarts back in oven for an additional 5-7 minutes until tart dough is cooked all the way through and looks dry. Set aside to cool on rack.
- Prepare Pastry Cream: In bowl using stiff whisk, combine egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.
- In medium saucepan, place whole milk over medium-low heat until warm. Remove from heat.
- Slowly whisk half the milk into the egg mixture, until tempered (this ensures that the eggs do not scramble from the heat). Add and whisk in remaining milk.
- Return mixture to saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking continuously. Foam will slowly disappear and mixture will start to thicken. Continue to heat and whisk aggressively, until pastry cream becomes shiny and slowly bubbles. Remove from heat and using spatula, press pastry cream through sieve into an additional clean bowl sitting in ice bath.
- Once pastry cream is room temperature, remove bowl from ice bath and whisk in vanilla extract. Dust lightly with granulated sugar and cover pastry cream surface with plastic wrap. Set aside.
- Assemble Tarts: If using citrus, use the peler a vif method (shown in video above) to carefully segment and remove any zest and pith. Set aside any additional fruit of your choice. Remove tarts from molds carefully!
- Remove plastic wrap from pastry cream and use whisk to reincorporate until smooth—it will be very sticky! Using pastry bag, fill each tart shell half way or less with pastry cream. Place fruit on top.
- Meanwhile, heat up apricot jam and small amount of water over medium heat until thin. Using pastry brush, gently brush glaze on the fruit of each tart for shine and presentation. Serve and enjoy at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 11g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 104mg Sodium: 296mg Carbohydrates: 72g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 40g Protein: 6g