Mini Fruit Tarts
It is a truth universally acknowledged that mini desserts are wicked cute. These little tarts are just as tasty as they are delightful — and deceptively easy to make.
The shells are essentially almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and a full pound of butter: they bake up golden brown and crumbly, taste like almond cookies — and snap delectably when you bite into them. The filling is a luscious pastry cream that we spike with vanilla and brandy for a hint of boozy depth. It tastes wonderful with the buttery crust and, of course, all the fresh fruit we scatter on top of it.
You can really use any fruit you like. In the test kitchen, we went for color and shape — think red, red raspberries piled in the curve of a juicy, yellow mango moon or a fan of pink strawberries and pale green kiwis. Or, our favorite, a stylish monochromatic scheme with deep blue blueberries and plump blackberries. What gives them all that French bakery polish? A shiny apricot jam glaze and a few tiny leaves of mint.
These pretty little fruit tarts will be the perfect finish to a Mother’s Day brunch, wedding shower, or really any special event — everyone loves a few perfect bites of something sweet at the end of a great meal.
Yield: 15 to 18 mini tarts
Mini Fruit Tarts
To make the dough: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, almond flour, and ½ cup confectioners’ sugar.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt on medium speed until smooth and shiny, 1 to 2 minutes.
Sift in the remaining ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, reduce the speed to low, and cream until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add ½ the dry ingredients, mix until just combined, and repeat with the remaining dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, beat the whole egg, then add it to the dough and mix until incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Using the heel of your hand, press and smear the dough into itself for 30 seconds. Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or preferably overnight.
To bake the tart shells: Preheat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to just under ¼” thick. Cut the dough into squares slightly larger than the mini tart pans. Transfer the dough to the tart pans and gently press it into the bottom and sides. Use a rolling pin to pinch the overhanging dough off. Dock the dough multiple times with a fork.
Place the tart shells on a sheet pan and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Bake the tart shells for 14 to 15 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and the bottoms are just set, rotating halfway through. Let cool for a few minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1 tablespoon cold water. Brush the egg wash on the inner and outer sides of the tart shells. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes more, until shiny and set. Let cool completely.
To make the pastry cream: In a medium bowl, prepare an ice bath. Rest a similar-size bowl in the ice bath, and line it with a mesh sieve. Set aside.
In a large pot, combine the sugar, milk, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until steaming. Remove the pot from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until thick, smooth, and slightly lighter in color. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolks, while whisking constantly, until combined. Return the custard to the pot.
Place the pot over medium-low heat, and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard begins to thicken and boil, 4 to 5 minutes. Cook for 1 minute more, continuing to whisk vigorously. Immediately strain the custard into the bowl over ice.
Whisk the vanilla extract, brandy, if using, and butter into the pastry cream until well combined. Place plastic wrap flush against the pastry cream, and let sit until room temperature, 30 minutes. Transfer the pastry cream to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Note: pastry cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To assemble the tarts: Divide the pastry cream between the tart shells, filling each to ¼” below the top of the shell. Smooth the pastry cream with an offset spatula. Arrange about ⅓ cup of mixed fruit on top of each tart.
In a small bowl, whisk together the apricot jam and 1 tablespoon hot water. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of jam all over the fruit. Garnish each tart with a few mint leaves.
Serve cold. The fruit tarts can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Recipe source: Tart shell adapted from Bouchon Bakery.