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Classic French Fruit Tart

Serves: Makes 1 (9- or 9 ½ inch) tart shell, serving 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 1½ ounces white or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 half-pint basket (6 ounces) raspberries
  • 1 half-pint basket (6 ounces) blackberries
  • 1 half-pint basket (5½ ounces) blueberries


  • Vanilla Shortcrust Dough: Click here for recipe »
  • Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream: Click here for recipe »


Procedures:

A thin layer of melted white or semisweet chocolate helps the crust stay crisp by preventing the moisture in the pastry cream from soaking into the cookie like crust. Finish the top with the ripest, most luscious fruit you can find. Summer berries are an obvious choice, but also try slices of nectarines and plums, poached pears, pineapple, mango or kiwi, depending upon the season.

Prepare shortcrust dough and chill according to directions: Click here for recipe »

Bake the shell: Preheat the oven to 375°F and position a rack in the bottom third. Line the chilled tart shell with heavy-duty foil, pressing the foil firmly and smoothly into the crevices of the pan. Fill the pan with pie weights. Make sure the weights reach up the sides to the rim of the pan (the center does not need to be filled quite as full). Bake the shell for 20 to 22 minutes, until the foil comes away from the dough easily (if it doesn"t, bake another 5 to 6 minutes and check again). Remove the pan from the oven (hold the pan by the sides and not the bottom), close the oven door, and lift out the foil and weights from the shell; set them aside to cool.

Return the pan to the oven to continue baking the shell for about 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven, close the oven door, and check to see if any cracks have formed. If you see a crack, very gently smear a tiny bit of reserved dough over the crack to patch it-you need only enough to seal the opening. Return the pan to the oven and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the crust is a nice golden brown all over. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Moisture-proof the crust: Bring an inch of water to a boil in the bottom of the double boiler. Place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler off the heat. Then place the chocolate over the steaming water. Stir occasionally with the silicone or rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and smooth. (Or, melt the chocolate in the microwave-safe bowl) Scrape the melted chocolate into the cooled tart shell and use the offset spatula to spread it into a thin layer across the bottom and about ½-inch up the side. Chill for 10 minutes to firm the chocolate.

Fill the tart: Spoon the Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream into the tart crust and spread into an even layer. Refrigerate while you prepare the fruit. Pour the raspberries and blackberries onto the baking sheet and pick out and discard any moldy berries or debris. These berries are usually not washed, as they absorb water quickly and turn to mush. Rinse the blueberries in the strainer under cold water and pat dry. In the medium bowl, gently mix all of the berries together. Transfer to the tart, making sure there is a nice balance of all the berries in each area of the tart.

Finish the tart: Heat the raspberry jam and water in the small saucepan over low heat until melted, hot, and fluid or, microwave on low in the microwave-safe bowl. Do not let it boil or it will caramelize. Brush just enough of the melted jam over the tops of the berries to glaze them a bit. You don't want to overdo it; simply touch the brush to the berries to give them a shiny look. Refrigerate the tart until ready to serve.

Serving the tart: Place the tart pan on top of a large can (the 28-ounce tomato cans are good) so that the bottom balances midair as the rim falls to the counter. Use the metal spatula to transfer the tart to a serving plate, or simply leave the bottom of the tart pan under the tart for support. Slice the tart with a thin and sharp knife, cutting down in one quick motion rather than sawing. This tart is lovely all by itself, though a spoonful of raspberry sauce is a good accompaniment.

Storing: The tart holds beautifully for 2 days, but is at its prettiest the day it is made. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. After a couple of days the juices from the fruit begin to seep into the pastry cream, though the tart still tastes delicious.

Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table, The Art & Soul of Baking (Andrews McMeel)

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