Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fresh Fruit Tart

I had seriously decided to limit my baking to once a week; but all it took to dissolve my resolve was a trip to the supermarket. When I saw the stands brimming with late spring's bounty, I knew that I just had to make a fruit tart. Fruit tarts are beautiful any way you make them; you can go for a rustic look by mounding different kinds of fruit, or arrange them in triangles for a "summer fruit pizza". They also look very elegant with only one kind of fruit. This recipe uses cream cheese for both the crust and the filling; and although I loved the light and luscious filling, I thought that a drier and crunchier crust might have worked better than this moist and flaky one. I also have to warn you that the sides shrank quite a bit during baking. When I make a fruit tart again, I will probably use my regular crust recipe.


4 oz (1/2 a package) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

Mix cheese and butter together. Add flour, salt and sugar, mix well until dough comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap and chill for half an hour or so. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Roll into a 14-inch circle and use it to line a 12-inch pie pan. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork and bake until light golden brown for about 10-15 minutes.


8 oz (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c sugar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2/3 c heavy cream
1 tbs apricot or other fruit preserves (optional)
Fruit to decorate
1/4-1/2 c prepared gelatin mixture or fruit preserves to glaze

Beat the cream cheese with sugar, lemon juice and zest. Slowly pour in the whipping cream as you continue beating. Stop when all the cream is used and the mixture has thick whipped cream consistency. Fold in the zest. I mostly use this method because it is the fastest, but I have to warn you that the cream cheese-cream mixture may curdle if you overbeat. To be on the safe side, you may want to whip the cream separately and fold it to the cream cheese mixture at the end.

For assembly, warm the tablespoon of preserves and brush on the tart shell. (This is an optional step to keep the pastry from becoming soggy fast.) Starting at the outside edge, arrange the fruit in overlapping concentric circles. While choosing fruit, avoid kiwi and pineapple or use them briefly cooked, since the enzyme papain they contain inhibits gelling action and turns dairy fillings bitter on prolonged contact. An hour or two before serving, prepare some gelatin mixture with sweetened fruit juice and refrigerate until syrupy. Brush the fruit with this mixture and pour the leftover carefully so that it fills in the gaps of fruit and cream. This not only keeps the tart together when cut, but also sweetens the fruit and gives it a glistening glaze. (If you don't want to use gelatin, you can warm fruit preserves with some water or orange juice to dilute, strain if necessary and use this to brush on the fruit. It will not aid in cutting, but will serve the two latter purposes. Do this close to serving time as refrigeration dulls the glaze.) Refrigerate until served for gelatin to set. This fruit tart is best served the day it is made.