Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Days of Summer Fruit Tartelette

Oh those lazy hazy crazy days of summer, those days of soda and pretzels and beer. Except that soda will rot your teeth, beer will rot your liver, and pretzels will dehydrate you, and with the recent heat wave we've had in New York, you can't really afford that. Ah, are none of the simple pleasures of summer to be enjoyed anymore? Even though they will no doubt one day be linked to cancer, I don't think I will ever stop appreciating a blue sky, a big bunch of sunflowers and fresh fruit from the farmers' market. And the stupid heat even tried to take one of those away from me; it was one of those days that was so sweltering that I hopped on whatever subway came into the station just to get into the AC, so it took me five trains to get back from Union Square instead of two, and my hardy sunflowers nearly wilted and died from the heat. Luckily, as soon as I got home I was able to put them in water, pull out the fruit and get to work.

I had long planned a "thanks for paying for my study abroad experience" dinner for my parents but it got postponed because of my grandma's illness, until now. I didn't know what I wanted to make, except that I wanted to use the miniature tart pans I got from Zabar's a long time ago and had never had occasion to use. So tartelette pans + fruit = fruit tartelette, duh. And who better to turn to for a tartelette recipe that Tartelette herself?

The recipe I picked, Fresh Berries Tartelettes, was simple and delicious, helped along, no doubt, by the quality of the fruit. The raspberries were good, but the blackberries were a revelation: big, juicy, plump, the perfect amount of sweet and tart. Probably the best blackberries I ever had, so I was almost reluctant to bake them, but I'm glad I did!

The only qualm I had with this recipe was that the dough, which was easy to make and easy to work with, didn't really taste like anything. Next time I make these I will add sugar to the dough and decrease the amount of sugar in the filling. But served with vanilla ice cream, they were yummy and pretty and summery, and really, what else could you ask for on a hot August day?

Fresh Berries Tartelettes
Gluten-free version can be found on

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used half butter and half leaf lard I got at the market this time)
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold milk

For the filling:
1 pint blackberries
1 pint raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 chopped tablespoon lemon thyme (or your favorite herb)

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add enough milk to moisten it. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10-15 minutes until almost completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 3 days before using. Roll some extra dough to form lattice pattern on top if desired. You can also freeze the extra raw dough for up to three months.

For the filling:
Place the berries in a non reactive bowl. Rub the sugar and thyme together and sprinkle over the fruit. Gently mix with a spatula. Let the fruit marinate for about 20 minutes.

Divide the berries among the tart shells, top with lattice if desired and bake 20 minutes. Let the tarts cool completely before eating. Depending on the water content in the fruits, some may release more juice than others so be aware when you might drip.

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