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Tartalicious

Aside from not having stable internet for an entire week, nothing irks me more than to have to deal with the providers to come fix the problem.  The customer “care” service probably qualifies as some sort of psychological warfare/torture; what with the annoying elevator music loops during hold and the machine constantly reminding you, “you’re call will be answered in the order it was received, please hold for the next available representative.”  It’s enough to make any sane person go mad!

As I’m writing this post the internet problem has finally been resolved, but the past few days have not been pleasant. To help ease my discomfort, I turned to baking. I didn’t want to make cookies or brownies… I needed something bright; something that would be sure to lift my spirits.

mise en place (dough)
mise en place

I needed fruit tarts.  To me, plump berries and fresh fruits epitomize summertime. For the regular shortbread crust, I gussied it up with some finely ground pistachios. It takes away from some of the bland flour taste and adds a tasty nutty undertone. I brought those pistachios with me from Aleppo - a Syrian city internationally renown for its pistachios. Of course, once these babies run out, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop making this amazing nutty crust.  High quality pistachios work just as well. 

crumbly buttery flour
crumbly buttery flour

I use my food processor to form the crust because it cuts the butter into the flour perfectly. You pretty much want to end up with tiny beads of butter running throughout the flour.  The dough will seem a bit dry, but that’s perfectly normal.  Once it just barely comes together, you’ll want to wrap it in plastic wrap and throw it in the ice box to chill out for a bit.

poke, poke, poke!
docking the dough

Once it’s chilled you can easily roll the dough out into your favorite tart molds.  I like these little ones because I could quickly convince myself to go for seconds since they’re so darn tiny.  Don’t dwell on the amount of butter in the dough – just look at the pretty specks that the pistachios leave.  

beans, beans their good for your tarts
beans, beans their good for your tarts

I couldn’t resist with the title of this photo. After poking the dough with a fork so it doesn’t rise while baking, throw some dry beans on top to secure the job.  This will also prevent the crusts from browning too much while you’re blind baking them.  Now on to the pastry cream.

mise en place (pastry cream)
mise en place

Pierre Hermé is a culinary genius.  I adapted this pastry cream recipe from his collection and can say without a doubt that it is one of the best pastry creams I’ve made at home.  I infused mine with some grated orange zest and a vanilla bean.

the possibilities are endless
mise en place

I usually don’t like to toot my foodie horn, but these tarts were so yummy.  I even went on to make another batch (this time with an almond-infused pastry cream) and they were all so good.

fruit tarts
mise en place

Part of the fun was assembling the tarts and coming up with neat little designs.  You seriously can’t go wrong with such pretty fruit, though. So make sure to make some fruit tarts (or anything with fruits) before summer’s long gone. For the Ausies and Kiwis reading this post, sorry for the tease… soon your summer will come and we’ll be the ones keeping warm with soups and stews.

Pistachio Infused Tart Shells

(yields approx. 6 mini tart shells)

Components

  • 200 g all purpose flour (1 1/3 cups)
  • 50 g pistachios, finely ground (1/2 cup)
  • 50 g sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt 

Putting them all together

  1. In a food processor process chilled butter and flour. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until combined.
  3. Although a bit crumbly, push all the pieces together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. Once chilled roll out into tart mold, poke with a fork and cover with aluminum foil and weights (dry beans).
  5. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes.  Uncover (remove beans) and bake until golden brown.

Print

 

Orange Infused Pastry Cream

(yields approx. 900 g)

adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé

Components

  • 500 g whole milk (2 cups)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 75 g sugar (6 tbsp)
  • 30 g cornstarch (3 tbsp)
  • zest of 1 orange, minced
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • pinch of salt

Putting them all together

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, cornstarch, orange zest, vanilla bean and salt.
  2. In a small saucepan bring the milk to a boil.
  3. Temper the yolks by slowly adding the hot milk to the yolk mixture while constantly whisking.
  4. Strain the yolk and milk mixture back into the small saucepan. Bring back to a boil over medium heat.
  5. Boil the cream for 1-2 minutes while whisking vigorously. Place the cooked cream into a clean bowl and chill it in an ice bath. 
  6. Once sufficiently chilled, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Notes:Make sure to whisk the cream at every step to avoid clumps.  Stir the pastry cream occasionally while it’s sitting over the ice bath so that it cools evenly.  This will also help produce a silky smooth cream.

Print

Mini Fruit Tarts

(yields approx. 6 tarts)

Components

  • 6 pistachio infused tart shells
  • 900 g orange infused pastry cream
  • fresh berries and assorted fruits
  • 1/2 cup orange jam (any light colored jam works)
  • 1 tbsp water

Putting them all together

  1. Fill each shell with pastry cream.
  2. Cover with assorted fruits (avoid watery fruits).
  3. To get that pretty glaze on top, mix a bit of water into some light colored jam and heat in the microwave until smooth.
  4. Glaze with a pastry brush and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Notes:  Do not assemble too ahead of time to avoid the crust from becoming soggy.

Print

Decisions, decisions… I was about to dig into this little tart with an equally little spoon, until I realized how portable they are. Needless to say, I put the spoon down and dug right in.

my favorite part
my favorite part

Posted in desserts, French, recipe by Antonio Tahhan on August 2nd, 2008. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


14 Responses to “Tartalicious”

Katie Says:

I am so impressed by your blog. It is both beautiful and interesting. What a delicious combination!

Meeta Says:

Simply fantastic! Pistachios are my favorite as you know – and so the dough here is just perfect. Actually I was planing on making a tart tomorrow too!

Christina Says:

You definitely upped the taste quotient by putting pistachios in the crust. And, wow, those look better than the fruit tarts I see at cafes!

Psychgrad Says:

Wow Tony, very impressive! This is on a long list of recipes to try despite seeming very scary.

Does the bottom of your tartlette mold disconnect from the side of the mold? If not, did you have any trouble getting the tarts out of the mold?

I’d never heard of blind baking before. Thanks for the lesson.

HoneyB Says:

OMG Tony, these looks AWESOME!!! I would love one for breakfast!

Alexa Says:

Beautiful. I love fruit tarts and yours are especially delicious looking. I love the pistachio in the crust.

Antonio Tahhan Says:

Katie – Thanks for stopping by! I also love finding new foodie bloggers – can’t wait to check out your blog!

Meeta – I’m glad you liked the pistachios… I’ll be sad the day they run out. I may have to schedule another visit to the Middle East :)

Christina – Yea, I really liked the look and taste that the pistachios brought to the table :) decorating the tarts is so much fun, too!

Psychgrad – Thanks! Oh, no… don’t be at all discouraged. I hoped that by separating them they would seem more approachable, but I know what you mean. Trust me, these are less intimidating than they look.
Yes, the bottom of my tart molds do disconnect from the sides. And even if they didn’t, the dough has so much butter :) that you shouldn’t have any trouble removing it after it is baked.

HoneyB – I wish these little things travelled well, I would have sent you a few!

Alexa – I’m so happy the pistachio crust was a hit and that’s why I love experimenting in the kitchen :)

Bren@Flanboyant Eats Says:

utter goodness right here!!!

Jen Yu Says:

Just gorgeous! The little tarts are so lovely and delicious looking. What a great way to use the fruits of summer. Sorry about your internet woes. I think telecommunications companies thrive on sucking. I hates them too! :(

Shaun Says:

Antonio ~ Thank you for thinking of the Kiwis and Aussies of the world that are drooling over your post. I, too, love to make a good “gussied up” shortcrust pastry. I often turn to almonds or spices, such as cinnamon or cardamom but will try pistachios, which I love inordinately but only think to use them for baklava or gelato. (Actually, I also add a little bit of lemon juice for extra flakiness.) The orange and almond infused pastry creams sound divine.

Kate Says:

i need fruit tarts too … !!! these looks so gorgeous , pretty n colourful. And got such a fantastic variety of fruits n in there. I’m so tempted to lift one off the screen.

Jen Says:

Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely have to try the chili in my hot chocolate (or other concoctions) when there’s no one to delight/irk except for myself.

I love making tarts, especially because they’re so potable! I agree, you can’t go wrong with beautiful fruit. The orange infused cream sounds fabulous, I can’t wait to try it out.

So glad to have found a new foodie blog to oogle at! I love your format.
I’m honored to be your tastespotting neighbor :)

Archana Says:

Antonio, these look delicious. I have the same tart moulds and they come out just perfect, but have never tried something like this. This is the first time you your blog, you have a nice blog here with great pictures… BTW, I am hosting a ONE DISH MEAL – Salad event. I would love for you to participate. The rules for the event are in my site – Archana

Arlette Says:

They look delicious………
I am proud of you Tony, and I am sure your mom is proud too.
What part of the Middle East are you from????


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