With a flaky, butter crust sweet cream and fresh fruit, these mini tarts are a beautiful and delicious desert. Feature your favorite raw fruits, or what's in season. The pastry cream recipe here can be used in many different deserts as well. It's a great recipe to perfect and keep in your repertoire.
Special equipment: 8 qty. 4 inch tartlet pans
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for gresing
For the filing:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 lb 2 oz mixed fresh fruit such as kiwi, raspberries, strawberries, peaches
1/3 cup apricot jam or red currant jelly, for glazing
1. Sift the flour on to a work surface and make a well in the center. Add the egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla and butter. Work the ingredients in the well until thoroughly mixed, then draw in the flour until coarse crumbs form. Press the dough into a ball and knead for 2 minutes, until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan with the split-open vanilla bean (if using vanilla extract, wait till a later step in incorporate). Remove the pan from heat, cover and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
3. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and flour. Whisk in the hot milk. Return the mixture to a cleaned-out pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the flour has cooked and the cream is thick. Simmer over low head for 2 minutes.
4. Transfer the pastry cream to another bowl and remove the vanilla bean, if using, or stir in the vanilla extract. Press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool.
5. Grease the tartlet pans. Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/8 in (3mm) thick. Cut into 8 equal squares, just larger than the tartlet pans. Roll the dough loosely around the rolling pin and drape over each pan so they are covered. Roll the rolling pin over the tops of the pans to remove excess dough. Press up the dough edges to form a deep shell. Set the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and prick the dough with a fork. Chill for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line each tartlet shell with a piece of foil, pressing it down well. Bake for 6-8 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When cold, carefully remove each shell from its pan.
7. Prepare the fruit, wash, peel, and slice into bite sized pieces. Melt jam or jelly with 2-3 tablespoons water in a saucepan. Work it through a sieve. Brush the inside of each tartlet shell with the glaze. Half fill each shell with the cooled pastry cream, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Be careful not to overfill with cream. When you add the fruit, the fruit will weigh down into the cream and cause it to overflow, if overfilled. Arrange the fruit on top and brush with the jam glaze.
*Chef tip: you will have a lot of egg whites left over from separating the eggs for this recipe. Save the yolks and use for another recipe, like a meringue.