Fruit tarts are festive holiday treats

This is the first fruit tart I ever made.

This is the first fruit tart I ever made.

I found a tart pan in a thrift store, and for $1 I couldn’t resist buying it. I have always dreamed of making a fruit tart of my own.

I have always admired the beautiful fruit tarts I’ve seen in bakeries. Some were beautiful pieces of art that tasted as good as they looked. Others? Well, let’s say they needed serious improvement.

Anyway, I brought home my new prized possession and in a few days I was able to get to work on making a fruit tart. They are much easier than they look, although there is a lot of time involved in the process.

I have made a couple of tarts, including one for a friend’s Christmas party, and they turned out beautifully. I plan to make more since I have gotten great feedback about the ones I’ve made so far.

Just a note: Before you begin making anything new, make sure you read through the recipe and make sure you understand it before you begin. If there is something that puzzles you, either contact the author or google the term to get clarification.

It is also a good idea to make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment before you get started. This recipe is designed for an 11-inch tart pan. If you use a smaller one or a different type of baking dish, you will have to adjust the recipe and cooking time up or down.

Back to the tarts … There are three components: the shortbread crust, the custard and the fruit. The shortbread and pastry cream can be made a day or two in advance. The fruit should always be added fresh.

Basic fruit tart

Shortbread crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons apple or plum jelly

Sift together flour and sugar. Pour into a  food processor container. Using plastic pastry attachment, cut in the butter with small pulses so you don’t over mix it. This should take about 15 to 20 seconds. It will look like a clumpy flour mixture. Lightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the water. Slowly add the mixture to the dough, pulsing the food processor as you add it, until it is blended, being careful not to over blend. It should still look like a clumpy flour mixture, but holds together well when you squeeze some in your hand. Pour mixture onto a floured surface and flatten the dough into a circle. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it on a plate. Refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready to bake, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have a 12- to 13-inch circle. Place in tart pan so it fills the bottom and the sides. Pierce in several places with a fork. Place tart pan on a large baking sheet (some of the butter will drip out). Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. Brush cooled crust with jelly and let it dry before adding the custard. This helps keep the crust from getting soggy.


1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Slightly beat the egg yolks. Stir in the cornstarch until you have a smooth mixture. Heat milk and sugar in a small saucepan until it is just about to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in vanilla. Remove from heat. Put a few tablespoons of the heated milk into the egg mixture, one at a time, stirring with a whisk as you add them so the egg yolks get heated but don’t cook. Return the milk mixture to the heat, then slowly pour the egg mixture into the milk, whisking continuously. Continue to stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour into a glass mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the custard so a skin does not form. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least one hour. When ready, spread the custard evenly across the cooled crust. Top with fresh fruit.

This is the second tart I made.

This is the second tart I made.

Fruit topping

4-5 cups fresh fruit, sliced (leave berries whole)

1/2 cup apple or plum jelly for glaze (optional)

Berries, bananas, pears, kiwi, mango, peaches or canned mandarin oranges will work. You can use any combination, and decorate the top however you like. Random placement works just as well as structured designs.

To glaze (optional): Heat the jelly slightly in a small saucepan until it is liquid and smooth. Let cool, then brush across fruit.

Note: Fresh fruit tarts do not keep very well, so are best served the same day you assemble them. I have had moderate success with freezing them, but I recommend finishing the tart the same day. Makes 12 or more servings.

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9 thoughts on “Fruit tarts are festive holiday treats

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    • Thanks! It seems daunting because there is so much to it, but when you break it up, it’s pretty easy. I want to do one with cranberries and satsumas. Maybe add a little cranberry sauce or orange juice to the pastry cream.

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