Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Fruit Tart*

We have been invited out to dinner tonight!  (Thanks, Mom!) I offered to bring dessert and since it’ll just be three of us, and I have some fruit in the fridge, a quick puff pastry tart seemed just the thing.

I discovered puff pastry in sheets a few years ago – yeah, maybe I’m slow – and for a while, I experimented with it so often that it seemed almost everything I made had puff pastry as a main ingredient. It is a miracle substance, as happy as a shell or companion for sweet as for savory.  Best of all, it lives in my freezer until I need it and thaws quickly and bakes to a beautiful golden crust just as fast.

Summer fruit – about 1¼ lbs – Pitted if necessary and cut into chunks if bigger than bite-sized. I used two nectarines and one 6 oz punnet of blackberries
1 package of puff pastry containing two sheets
1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup of butter (four good slices)
1 tsp of natural vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch

Preheat your oven to 425 °F.  After the pastry has thawed, lay the first piece on a piece of parchment paper in your baking tray. If you don’t have parchment, which, as you can see from the photos, I forgot today, it will cook just as nicely. It will just be harder to get out of the baking pan and into a pretty serving dish.

Pit your fruit and cut it into chunks, if necessary, and sprinkle it with the brown sugar and the cornstarch. If your chosen fruit is really tart, you might want to increase the amount of sugar, hence the variable amount in the ingredients.  Start with the 1/4 cup and taste to see if more is needed. Add the vanilla extract and stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved.  Set aside.

Cut the second piece of pastry up into eight equal strips.  Brush the edges of the bottom pastry with water and lay the strips along the edges. Brush that layer with water and add the last four strips.

 Dock the bottom pastry in the middle with a sharp knife or a fork. This will keep it from puffing up under your fruit.

Spoon the fruit into the middle of your pastry “walls” and drizzle the leftover juice over it, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Dot the fruit with the slices of the butter.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and puffy. At our house, I usually serve this with double cream for pouring but unsweetened whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream would go quite nicely as well.

* I am calling this a summer fruit tart, but honestly, you can make this with thinly sliced apples or plums or pears or whatever fruit you have on hand all year round.   Or if you were looking for a savory treat – perhaps to serve with salad at a luncheon, caramelized onions with some feta cheese would also be a divine filling. Use your imagination.

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