Fresh fruit tarts

Four Inch T artes individuelles

Four Inch Tartes individuelles

West Michigan is known for it’s grey skies and lack of sunny days during the winter months, but lately I’ve been making a variety of fresh fruit tarts which simply add their own version of sunshine and brightness to the seemingly dreary weather. The good news is when we do have a sunny day, it’s a beauty! And some of our sunsets are absolutely gorgeous. Ahhhh . . . . there’s something about a Michigan sky.

Tartelettes Petits Fours

Tartelettes Petits Fours

While I’d prefer to use fresh local summer berries and stone fruits for my fresh fruit tarts, we’re fortunate to have pretty decent berries coming to us from California as well as citrus and all manner of tropical fruits from various parts of the country and the world. It’s interesting that most requests I receive for fresh fruit tarts happen during the winter months. I guess it’s just that desire for something colorful and delicious, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

TWO and a half inch   T artes individuelles

TWO and a half inch Tartes individuelles

I love the pinkish-orange of the Cara-Cara variant of the navel orange - just like one of our beautiful Michigan sunsets, especially when paired with the brilliant red of raspberries. And the blackberries lean more toward the end-of-sunset dusk when things start darkening into the deep purple hues of the night sky.

Nine inch  Tarte

Nine inch Tarte

The nuts and bolts of this type of tart include a standard pâte sucrée crust, a classic crème pâtissiére and, of course, an assortment of fresh fruit. Whatever suits your fancy.

Especially when I’m assembling a large tart, I like to do a mock up of my fruit lay out before actually placing the fruit on top of the crème. Here I’m using raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and Cara-Cara citrus. You might notice the pomegranate seeds at the top - I didn’t end up using them for my own aesthetic reasons (artistic license, right?).

Working on the layout

Working on the layout

Assembly in process

Assembly in process

I must say that finishing a fresh fruit tart gives one quite a sense of satisfaction. And, of course, one hopes that the recipients will be just as satisfied!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone. Here’s to many more baking adventures! And may you enjoy your own sunsets wherever you are.


A Thanksgiving tart and moving into citrus season

Thanksgiving is now behind us, and we look ahead to the upcoming weeks of December holidays and festivities.

This time of year I start thinking about citrus - all the lovely oranges and grapefruit that come to us from warmer climes.  There's the Cara Cara orange (a lovely pink fleshed navel), the blood orange and the standard navel orange.  And let's not forget tangelos, tangerines and clementines.  Nothing like a bunch of Vitamin C, right?!

As Thanksgiving approached I debated what I wanted to make for dessert to follow the classic American turkey-and-all-the-fixins meal.  Would it be a caramel nut tart or perhaps apple-cranberry or pumpkin ginger?  No - this year I opted for something citrus!

citrus browned butter cream tart

This tart is based on a recipe from Fine Cooking magazine some years ago.  Basically a blind baked pâte sucrée crust filled with browned butter pastry cream and topped with fresh citrus.  What's not to like?

I used my favorite pâte d'amande dough for the crust (I happened to have some in the freezer which made it an all the more attractive option).

lining the tart ring

all lined and ready for blind baking

baked and cooling - just waiting for the pastry cream

The filling is a pretty standard pastry cream made with milk, sugar, egg, cornstarch and, in my case, some added orange zest and vanilla bean seeds.  Yes!  Oh - and some browned butter added at the end of cooking.

les ingredients

In general I like to lighten pastry cream with a little whipped cream, so once my pastry cream was made, I chilled it in the fridge before whipping up a little cream and folding it in.

ready to fold and fill

all filled up

I segmented navel oranges and red grapefruit . . . .

and after drying the segments on paper towel, I did a practice layout . . . .

before the final assembly.

Et voila!

all assembled and ready to transport

We had a delicious Thanksgiving feast at cousin Garrett and his wife Laurie's home in nearby Rockford MI.  We took a break after dinner for some games and chit-chat, and, when it came time for dessert, enjoyed Laurie's pecan and pumpkin pies along with the bright taste of citrus and the smooth creaminess of the vanilla-orange crème pâtissière.

All in all a great day!