Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mini fruit tarts

Who wants to spend all day in the kitchen, preparing for a Valentines Day dessert that'll just get devoured in MINUTES?? NOT I!! Look no further!! Flakey crust?? GOOD. Vanilla pastry cream?? GOOD. Fresh fruit. GOOD. Need I say more??

Ingredients for the crust:
1/2 cup of all purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp more
1/4 cup of pecans
2 pinches of salt
1 1/2 Tbsp of sugar(I used brown sugar in the video cause I ran out of regular sugar)
1/2 stick(4 Tbsp) of cold, cubed butter
1-2 tsp of cold, ice water

For the filling:
1 1/4 cup of whole milk(divided)
3 large egg yolks(reserve the egg whites for the royal icing)
7 Tbsp of sugar(divided)
2 Tbsp of cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste(or half of a scraped vanilla bean pod or half a tsp of vanilla extract)
4 ounces of softened cream cheese

For the topping:
Fresh fruit of your choice

For the glaze:
1/4 cup of apricot jelly
1 Tbsp of water

For the chocolate hearts:
1/2 bag of cocoa flavored candy melts

For the royal icing:
3 large egg whites
about 5 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract
some water

Additional items needed:
2-3 mini tart pans(something with a removable bottom or a springform pan)
dried beans or pie weights
2 disposable piping bags
Wilton tip #1 or #3
Silpat or parchment paper

To make the crust, place your flour, pecans, salt, and sugar into a food processor and pulse until your pecans are finely ground. Add in your cold butter, and pulse some more until the mixture resembles corn meal. With the motor still running, add in your ice cold water, until the mixture comes together, and start to form a ball. Start off with 1 tsp of water and then add more if you need to. Turn out your dough onto a piece of saran wrap, flatten it out into a disc, and then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Remove your dough from the fridge and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Place the dough into your mini tart pans and press into an even layer of the pan and also up along the sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Place your pans on a baking sheet and line the crust with foil. Fill them with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the foil and dried beans and continue to bake until golden brown, about 8 more minutes. Transfer onto a wire rack to let them cool completely.

Next, make the glaze. Place your apricot jelly and water into a small saucepan and cook over medium low heat. Once your jelly has melted down(about 10-15 minutes), strain the mixture and set aside for later use.

To make the filling, whisk together your egg yolks, 3/4 cup of milk, 3 Tbsp of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch. Set aside. Next in a small saucepan, add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk, 4 Tbsp of sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste. Bring this mixture to a simmer over medium heat. While whisking, take your hot milk and pour a little bit into your egg yolk mixture(this is called tempering). Keep whisking and slowly start adding in small dribbles of the hot milk, until half of it is mixed in. Now, you may start adding in steady streams until everything is mixed in. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes thick(it should resemble the texture of yogurt). Remove pan from heat and whisk in your softened cream cheese. If you did not use vanilla bean paste, this is where you may add some vanilla extract. Place filling into cooled crusts and put them into the fridge while you work on your chocolate hearts. You may also pour the cream cheese/pastry cream into a bowl, place saran wrap directly on the surface, and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the heart shaped chocolate hearts: Follow the directions on the packaging and melt your candy melts in the microwave. Stir and then place it into a disposable piping bag. With a pair of scissors, snip a tiny bit off, and then pipe a heart onto your silpat or parchment paper that has been placed on a baking sheet. Fill the heart with more chocolate and smooth it out using a toothpick. Give the pan a few whacks on the counter to release any air bubbles that may have formed. Refrigerate until set.

How to make the royal icing: Place your egg whites into your stand mixer and beat on medium low until frothy. About 2 minutes. Add in some powdered sugar in batches until all mixed in. Add in your vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowls a few times to remove any large lumps. Continue to beat until smooth. Add in some water if it's too thick or more powdered sugar if it's too thin. You want to be able to pipe some out for writing. Place Wilton tip #1 or #3 into a disposable piping bag and put some royal icing in it. Twist and secure tightly.

Remove your chocolate hearts from the fridge and write a sweet message on them. Place them back into the fridge to set.

Arrange your fruit on the pastry cream, and using a pastry brush, brush on some glaze, then top off with your chocolate heart. Serve immediately! :)

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