Fruit Tartlets

With summer in full swing (well, semi-full swing here by the coast), plenty of summer fruit is popping up in stores. I thought these pastry cream tarts would be the perfect way to start off the summer — a buttery tart shell filled to the rim with sweet vanilla pastry cream and topped with jam-glazed summer fruit. Mmm.

Fruit Tartlets (click to print)
adapted from here and here
makes 12 tartlets

Pastry Cream
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Tart Shell
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed

fresh fruit, for garnishing (I used raspberries.)
1/2 cup jelly, for glazing (I used raspberry jam.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together. Add the cornstarch and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 15 seconds. When the cream reaches a full simmer, slowly whisk it into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and glossy, about 1 1/2 minutes (A few bubbles will burst on the surface). Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap pressed to the surface, until cold and set, at least 2 hours or up to 48 hours.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yolk, cream, and vanilla and set aside. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If refrigerated for more than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Press each piece into a tart tin, lining the bottom and the sides. Place the tarts onto a baking tray and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Press a square of foil into each tart, making sure the edges are covered. Fill each with metal or ceramic pie weights (What I do is place another tart tin gently over the foil and then fill the second tart tin with pie weights. I’ve found that this helps the tarts keep their shape). Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the edges and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes longer. Set the baking tray with the tart shells on a wire rack and let cool.

Remove the tarts from their tins. Spread the cold pastry cream over the bottom of each tart shell using a spoon. Arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream. Bring the jelly to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out any lumps. With a pastry brush, dab the jelly onto the fruit. If the jelly becomes too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water and reboil. Serve.

(updated 8/15/12)

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