Friday, July 27, 2012

Fresh Fruit Tart

Peter and I just got back from a trip to Seattle and I just fell in LOVE with the Pikes Place Market!!! All the beautiful, colorful, produce was almost too overwhelming for me- I just wished that we had a kitchen there so that I could have an excuse to carry bags of the gorgeous fresh groceries home with me.
Alas, I had no kitchen to cook in; instead, Peter graciously started each day by taking me for a morning stroll through the market so that I could gawk and soak in the market culture that I loved to feel a part of. 

They had these huge, super juicy, sweet yellow peaches that that all the produce vendors called 'OMG' peaches or 'Oh My Goodness' peaches. I had to go visit the peaches everyday just to make sure they were still as sweet as the day before :)

When we returned home, though I didn't have Pikes Place to go to for my fresh fruit, I did get a Farm-to-Home produce box delivery! What perfect timing! It even included peaches! With so much beautiful fruit in my box, I thought a fruit tart would be perfect to make! I had the fruit, the only problem was that I didn't have a tart pan to make it in. The fruit had already magically showed up for me on my doorstep... and guess what- 1 day later, SO DID THE TART DISH I NEEDED!!! Well, it didn't show up on my doorstep, but I showed up on it's doorstep.. at a garage sale right in my own neighborhood! This was too good to be true; this tart was meant to happen!

Along with the cute white fluted tart dish, I also found a couple other thrifty finds from this 91 year old woman's garage sale:
A gorgeous antique glass vanity box with aged metal edging and claw feet, AND a cool anniversary clock glass dome. 
I filled the glass vanity box with turquoise sand from an hour glass that had broke in my living room. Then I nested a pink sea shell from my personal collection inside. 
I placed the clock dome over a flat, round, mirrored pillar candle base and displayed a beautiful piece of white coral within. 
I love repurposing my treasures to create unique beach decor for our little Laguna Beach cottage :)

Okay, enough of the nonedibles. Down to the tart business! This fruit tart is beautifully impressive looking, but incredibly easy to make. It is almost a 'no-cook' recipe. It has a shortbread crust (only 3 ingredients -and the only baked component), a cheesecake-ish filling, fresh fruit, and a lemon glaze. 

This tart is awesome for all of summertime's bountiful fruit, but you can make it all year round with whatever fruit is in season. It could also be fun to try adding some slivered nuts into the design. 

Ingredients (makes a 12" tart): 

Shortbread Crust: 
  • 1 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks Salted Butter, chilled and diced
    • (optional: 1 teaspoon Almond Extract)
Cheesecake Filling: 
    • 8 oz. Cream Cheese (Low fat optional)
    • 1/2 cup Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • Any Fresh Fruit you like (to give you an idea, the design pictured in my post here used 6 strawberries, 1/2 white peach, 1/2 yellow peach, a kiwi, and a handful of blueberries)
    (Optional Glaze):
      • 1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
      • 1/4 cup Water
      • 1/4 cup Sugar
      • 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
    Place the crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until for about 1minute until it clumps together enough that when you squeeze it in your hand it will combine to become like playdough.

    Press the dough into the tart pan. (You can do this way in advance and chill it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge until you're ready to bake it). 

    Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes, or until it just barely begins to golden. Be careful not to over bake.

    *Note, make sure the crust is cooled before you fill it

    Next, mix the filling ingredients. (again, this can be done way in advance as well -stored, covered, and in the fridge until ready for use)

    Spread the filling evenly into the cooled shortbread crust.

    Then have fun decorating with your sliced fruits, but don't put on the berries until after you've painted the glaze. It doesn't ruin the berries or anything, but the berries don't stay in place like the other fruit does while painting the glaze. Plus, the glaze works as somewhat of an adhesive to keep the berries in place when you set them around the top :)

    You don't HAVE to use the glaze (though I highly recommend it) on your tart, but it is good for a few reasons: 1) it makes the fruit super glossy and appealing looking, 2) if you make your tart ahead of time, it can help to prevent the fruit from drying out or turning brown, and 3) IT TASTES GOOD too!

    If using, you can mix all the glaze ingredients together with a fork or a whisk and bring it to a light boil in a saucepan until it thickens, or just microwave it in a pyrex measuring cup for about 30 seconds to thicken it. 
    If it gets too thick to paint, just stir in a little water to thin it out a little bit. If it isn't thick enough, heat it a little longer until it thickens more.

    Paint the glaze over the fruit, and then polka dot any berries on top.

    See that beautiful glossy shine!
    You can see the ring of alternating yellow and white peach slices, the strawberry border, the kiwi center, and the blueberry polka dots. 

    And here my new tart dish even fits perfectly atop the cake stand I got from Aunt Peggy at my bridal shower 2 years ago!

    Isn't it just lovely! I LOVE all the colors! 
    It's so fun playing around with the natural shapes and colors to see what patterns and designs you can make with them!

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