Fruit Tart With Pastry Cream

Fruit tarts look so graceful and elegant. They seem to be just the thing to grace an aristocratic table set with fine china for tea. Fresh fruit is always beautiful, probably because it just bubbles over with freshness and is so colorful and vibrant.
The tender shortbread crust holds creamy, velvety and luscious pastry cream. I absolutely adore pastry cream. There is something so delightful and satisfying about it. Topped with any kind of fresh fruit and brushed on with a citrus glaze, this dessert is so impressive.
It's also taste surprisingly light. It's so easy to polish off a few slices without even realizing you did. And one of my most favorite attributes of this dessert - almost all the prep can be done ahead of time.
Breathtaking dessert ARE possible and this is one of them. You'll be amazed at how easily it comes together.

Making the pastry cream:

Heat the half n half in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a slow simmer, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth.
Add a small amount, about a cup of the steeped half n half to the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously. I just use a ladle.
This is called tempering. You are gradually increasing the temperature of the yolks, which are very fragile and could scramble. We're making a lovely dessert here, not breakfast. When you add a small amount of hot liquid and whisk quickly at the same time, the eggs are much colder and cool off the liquid. You add the now warm eggs to the hot mixture and the eggs are incorporated perfectly into the pastry cream.
Gradually add a bit more of the hot half n half to the egg yolk mixture and then pour it all back into the saucepan. Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes, whisking the whole time, until bubbles burst across the whole surface. Cook just until it thickens. If your cream becomes lumpy, no problem. We can fix that. Simply pour the cream through a fine mesh strainer.
Take off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, placing it right on top of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on top of the cream.
Cool and refrigerate until it's completely cold. You can make the pastry cream a few days ahead and just store it in the refrigerator.

Making the tart crust:

Combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces into the flour. Pulse 10-15 times, until there are small pieces of butter in the flour. Mix the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk together. Pour into the dough and pulse a few more times until it starts to come together close to the blades. You don't want to overwork the dough. When you press the dough between your fingers, it should stay together. If it's too loose, add a bit more cream. Dump the dough onto a sheet of aluminum foil, plastic wrap or parchment paper. Work it with your hands to form a disc. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes.  You can also make the dough a few days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
On a floured surface, roll out the tart dough into an 11 inch circle. Gently ease it into a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim off the top of the excess dough with a knife or simply roll the rolling pin over edges of the pan.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. (You can also keep the frozen tart shell in the pan, sealed in a ziptop bag, etc. in the freezer for up to a month.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cover the tart with aluminum foil and place pie weights inside. You can also use beans or rice to weigh it down. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the crust is golden. Uncover and take off the weights and continue baking for another 5 minutes, just until the crust is golden. Cool.

Assembling the tart:

When you're ready to serve the tart, pour the pastry cream into the tart shell. Top with the fruit of your choice. I used strawberries and kiwi, but you can use just about anything you like - raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mangoes, mandarin oranges, peaches, starfruit, etc.
Gently brush the glaze onto the fruit. For the Citrus Glaze recipe, click here. If you'd rather not make a glaze, heat up apple or apricot jelly in the microwave just until it melts and use that to brush on top of the fruit. It gives it a lovely shimmer and also keep the fruit from oxidizing and turning brown and wilted.
As I've been mentioning several times in this post, you can do so much of the work ahead of time. Whenever I make this tart, I go ahead and at least double the recipe.
I make the pastry cream ahead of time.
I make the tart ahead of time.
I make the glaze ahead of time. (You will just have to heat it up again before applying to the fruit.)
You can even fill the tart with the pastry, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper right on top of the cream and refrigerate for a few hours.
The only thing left is to put it all together and cut up the fruit. You can give this job to your guests. I'm sure they'll enjoy coming up with different designs with fruit.
I took this over to my sister's when my parents were visiting. While the guys were checking out downtown, Mom, Milana and I put the finishing touches on the tart.
Fruit Tart With Pastry Cream
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Serves: 1 (9 inch) tart
Ingredients
Pastry Cream:
  • 2cups half-and-half
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (cold), cut into 4 pieces
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
Tart Crust:
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ⅓ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick), chilled, cut into ½-inch cubes
Fruit and glaze:
  • Fruit, any kind you like
  • Citrus Glaze OR
  • apricot or apple jelly
Instructions
To make the pastry cream:
  1. Heat the half n half and 2-3 Tablespoons of sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a slow simmer, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, 2 Tablespoons of sugar, salt and cornstarch until smooth.
  3. Add a small amount, about a cup of the steeped half n half to the egg yolk mixture, whisking vigorously.
  4. Gradually add a bit more of the hot half n half to the egg yolk mixture and then pour it all back into the saucepan.
  5. Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes, whisking the whole time, until bubbles burst across the whole surface. Cook just until it thickens.
  6. Take off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.
  7. If your cream becomes lumpy, no problem. We can fix that. Simply pour the cream through a fine mesh strainer.
  8. Pour into a bowl and cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, placing it right on top of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on top of the cream.
  9. Cool and refrigerate until it's completely cold.
  10. You can make the pastry cream a few days ahead and just store it in the refrigerator.
For the tart crust:
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces into the flour. Pulse 10-15 times, until there are small pieces of butter in the flour.
  3. Mix the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk together.
  4. Pour into the dough and pulse a few more times until it starts to come together close to the blades. You don't want to overwork the dough. When you press the dough between your fingers, it should stay together. If it's too loose, add a bit more cream.
  5. Dump the dough onto a sheet of aluminum foil, plastic wrap or parchment paper. Work it with your hands to form a disc. Wrap it up and refrigerate for at least 20-30 minutes.
  6. You can also make the dough a few days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
  7. On a floured surface, roll out the tart dough into an 11 inch circle.
  8. Gently ease it into a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  9. Trim off the top of the excess dough with a knife or simply roll the rolling pin over edges of the pan.
  10. Place it in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  11. (You can also keep the frozen tart shell in the pan, sealed in a ziptop bag, etc. in the freezer for up to a month.)
  12. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  13. Cover the tart with aluminum foil and place pie weights inside. You can also use beans or rice to weigh it down.
  14. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the crust is almost golden.
  15. Uncover and take off the weights and continue baking for another 5 minutes, just until the crust is golden. Cool.
To assemble:
  1. When you're ready to serve the tart, pour the pastry cream into the tart shell.
  2. Top with the fruit of your choice.
  3. Gently brush the glaze onto the fruit.
  4. If you'd rather not make a glaze, heat up apple or apricot jelly in the microwave just until it melts and use that to brush on top of the fruit.

 
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Comments

  1. Milana says

    My husband and I had the pleasure of trying this amazing fruit tart and we loved it! So many flavors :)
    Thank you again Olga for this delicious recipe!

  2. Alexis says

    This is perfect ! I was looking to make something that will wow my in laws, this tart looks beautiful , thank you for making this great post with easy directions and pictures ,I am glad I subscribed !

  3. oksana says

    Hi Olga,

    So I attempted making the tart today and the cream turned out great but the crust was a big fail :( I stopped pulsing after I was able to squish between my fingers like you said. But I couldn’t roll it out for the life of me. It was so sticky and I had to use lots of flour. And it was very flaky too :( any idea what I did wrong? Im so disappointed in myself for screwing up :(

    • says

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you, Oksana! That’s a bummer. It can be a little finicky to work with.
      My best advice would be not to mess with it too much. Don’t add more flour than I have written in the recipe. After refrigerating the dough, let it stand at room temperature for about ten minutes. Knead it with your hands for a bit and it should come together. You can add a few teaspoons more of heavy cream and see if that helps it come together better.
      As you’re rolling out the dough, kind of “squish” it together with your hands. I hope that helps. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There’s SO many things that I’ve tried that didn’t turn out the first time either.

      • Oksana says

        Thank you Olga :) well maybe my dough originally didn’t have enough cream cause before i put it in the fridge, it was already very crumbly. I’ll use your advice to try it again sometime soon. Thank you :))

  4. Natalie says

    Hi Olga,
    I have a 12in. tart pan, do you think this recipe will be OK or should I scale up and how much?
    Thanks for you help!

    • says

      It’s hard for me to say, since I didn’t use this size when I baked my tart, Natalie. Try it out and see. There’s usually a bit of dough left over, it might be enough, but I can
      t say for sure.

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