I’ve often remarked that one of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. As a kid, I looked forward to fresh fruit salad with every. single. meal. As an adult, it’s not much different. With this love of sweet summer fruit in mind, it didn’t take me long to know I wanted to make a fresh fruit tart as the dessert to our recent engagement dinner. It was a perfect finish to a perfect evening.
Fresh Fruit Tart
Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
For the tart shell:
3/4 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c. granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
For the pastry cream (makes enough for two nine or ten-inch tarts):
6 extra-large egg yolks at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
3 TBSP cornstarch
2 c. whole milk
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP heavy cream (I used half and half)
1 TBSP Cognac or brandy
For the topping, you may use any fresh fruit you like. Ina suggests grouping the fruits together and leaving stems on for a French-style presentation. I decided not to do this because I wanted each guest to get some of all the fruits I chose.
1. To make the tart shell, mixer the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they are just combined. Add the vanilla extract.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add to the butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
3. Generously dust your working surface with flour and turn the dough out onto the surface. Using a rolling pin also dusted with flour, shape your dough into a circle large enough to cover a 10-inch round tart pan. Press the dough into the tart pan and trim the edges so they are even. Chill the dough in the pan until firm.
4. When ready to bake the shell, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter or spray one side of a piece of foil and place it, buttered side down, on the tart shell. Fill with dry beans, rice, and pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and prick the tart shell several times with a fork. Bake again for 18-25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.
5. To make the pastry cream, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for about three minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. The mixture should become light yellow and fall back into the bowl in a ribbon. On low speed, beat in the cornstarch.
6. Bring the milk to a bowl in a large saucepan and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour it into the egg mixture. Once all of the milk is incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan.
7. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick, about ten minutes. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks clumpy for a couple of minutes. If you’re whisking or stirring consistently, it will relax.) Bring to a boil and cook on low heat two to three minutes more. Taste to be sure the cornstarch is cooked.
8. Remove from the heat, mix in the vanilla, butter, cream, and Cognac or brandy, and strain into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.
9. To assemble the tart, spread the chilled pastry cream even over the interior surface of the cooled tart shell. Arrange the fruit to your liking. Ina recommends assembling the tart no more than a few hours before serving, as a baked shell or finished tart should not be refrigerated.