My rule is that every year, for their birthday, my friends get whatever dessert they want made by me – whether that be crazy Mili-Crepe Tiramisu Cake, Chocolate Bread Pudding, Maple Glazed Bacon Chocolate Stout Cheesecake, or any other challenge they can come up with. I made one Italian friend (Stephinitely) a Fruit Tart one year (see the mini fruit tarts pictured below) and then it was all over – then every friend wanted one (besides my chocoholic friend thankfully) and I was suddenly in a Fruit Tart making non-profit. So this is my fruit tart recipe. Like all of my desserts, I add booze (hence the Drunken Fruit Tarts) to this recipe (just TRY adding a bit of rum or bourbon to some heavy cream and sugar for your own whipped cream…your friends will rave!). It tastes good, and hey, maybe my friends get a touch buzzed (no, I’m kidding, there’s not that much to do that and my friends are law students for the most part who know their way around a bar).
The fruit is whatever you like or whatever looks good in the grocery store. Stone fruits (plums, peaches, etc) are always a good choice because they don’t get too mushy, they look pretty, and they pair well. I like to go with berries too, just because most people like them and the smaller ones are good fillers (blueberries especially). Kiwis are also nice because not too many fruits are green, so the color contrast looks nice. But, like I said, if you like grapes and starfruit and cantaloupe, be my guest. I just won’t be joining you in taste testing. Also note, this keeps for just a few days before it gets soggy, so definitely consume like you’re a fat kid who loves cake or invite over a few friends.
Timing: 2 hours and 45 minutes (including chilling time)
Servings: 15-20 individual tarts or 2 large tarts
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (always use unsalted butter and add in your own salt so that you can control the levels – especially in baking)
- 1 cup powdered sugar (yep, powdered sugar here folks!)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I never measure, because I LOVE vanilla)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour + more for flouring your work surface to roll out the dough on
- 2 cups mascarpone cream (16 ounces – can usually find near the deli cheese island at stores)
- 2/3 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup your favorite liquor (I recommend rum or bourbon, but you could use an orange liqueur or a combination of whatever you like here)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup each of three to four of your favorite fruits: slice larger fruit thinly; leave small fruit (like blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) whole
For the dough, combine the flour and salt in a small bowl and combine. Set aside. Combine butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow (about 2 minutes on medium speed). Add the egg yolks one at at time, making sure they each one is mixed fully. Scrape down the bowl and add your vanilla and combine. Add your flour-salt mixture and mix until just combined – don’t overmix and make a tough dough. Then form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and shove that in the fridge for 45 minutes to cool. Ok, ok, you could probably chill it overnight or until you need it. Easiest dough you’ll ever make – I swear by it.
After 45 minutes, unwrap and let sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes. It’ll be a bit too cold to really work with and mold. Throw some flour on a work surface and the top of the dough and roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/4 – 1/8 of an inch thickness. Keep in mind, the thicker you go, the longer you’ll have to bake. If you are making individual tarts, use a cookie/biscuit cutter or a drinking glass and cut. Place into a greased tart pan (or a pie dish). If your dough gets a little fussy on you, just patch holes with some extra dough and smooth out. You won’t be able to tell once it’s baked and filled with goodness. If you are doing individual tarts, you can buy fancy tart tins or you can use either side of a muffin tin. If you want deeper welled, more round tart shells, use the actual muffin tin wells (like you would traditionally). If you want more rugged or shallower tarts, flip the tin over and use the recesses between the wells to form tart shells. Don’t worry – the dough won’t spill over or get crazy. But if you’re scared about leakage, place the muffin tin on a cookie sheet when you put it in the oven.
Once you place your dough in the shell, “dock” the dough. Docking means basically just poking light holes in the dough using a plain, ole fork. Make sure that you do both the bottom AND the sides. You’re docking the dough so that it doesn’t expand and rise from the tin. You want a flat, smooth dough to fill with cream and fruit. Place the entire tin in the freezer for about 10 minutes so the dough can cool back down. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while the tin’s freezing. Also place a mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer to chill for your mascarpone cream. Bake the dough for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown all over and firm to the touch. Rotate halfway through to ensure even browning and baking. Cool at room temperature for an hour or until cool to the touch.
For the cream, use a whisk mixer attachment to whip the mascarpone cheese until smooth and slightly fluffier. Remove from the mixing bowl. Add the chilled heavy cream and whip at medium speed until the cream starts to get thick. Add the sugar and salt and beat until soft peaks form. Soft peaks basically mean that the cream holds its shape without deflating. Delicately add in the whipped mascarpone cheese and fold slightly so you don’t deflate the whipped cream, but the two are combined. Add the vanilla extract. Add about 1/8 cup of liquor to the mixture and taste. If you can’t taste the liquor, add a bit more. Don’t get crazy so that the liquor overpowers the cream and the mixture doesn’t get too liquidy. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until you’re ready to assemble everything.
To assemble, dollop enough of the mascarpone cream into the cooled tart shell until it’s about 1/8 of an inch below the top of the crust/shell. Smooth it out to a flat surface as best you can. Make concentric circles with the fruit, starting at the outside and working your way in, leaving the smaller fruit for the inside and alternating fruit. If you do individual tart shells, shingle your fruit or make into a rosette using the slices if you are fancy. This is where you can get crazy creative if you want and do some fancy designs. If you are like me, and are the furthest hing from Martha Stewart and don’t have a creative bone in your body, the circle pattern works just as well! Slice and serve! Keep refrigerated if you have leftovers or aren’t ready to party/eat until a few hours.
Note: Some people glaze their fruit with melted jelly (usually apricot jelly) to get a nice sheen on top. I, however, don’t think it’s necessary…and well, I don’t want to add more sugar just for glossiness. But, if you want to be traditional or fancy, be my guest!