"The evolving Francophile..."

My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.

It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Randy's Easy fruit tart -- Recipe

Randy's Easy fruit tart

With spring here and summer fast approaching, I resurrected an old recipe that I concocted for a quick dessert that can be varied by what fruits are in season, or what you prefer. I prefer the Easy Bake butter crust in French known as sablé, but if you don’t want to hassle with baking use the graham cracker crust, recipe to follow:

Tart pan:
I like to use an 12 or 13-inch removable bottom tart pan, preferably non-stick. 

No-Bake crust: 
1 3/4 graham crackers
1/4 - 1/2 cup ground nuts (your choice and optional)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Simply mix the ingredients and press into a tart pan.  Let it cool before filling. You can even refrigerate it to facilitate the cooling!

Easy Baked butter crust
1 1/3 cup flour
1-stick butter melted (8 ounces)
1-egg yolk
3-tbs sugar
A pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 cup finely ground nuts (your choice and optional)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
I prefer to use a food processor.  Place flour in food processor, slowly pulse in melted butter, then the egg yolk, sugar, salt, nuts and cinnamon if so desired. Immediately press it into a tart pan. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of half-an-hour! In the meantime, preheat oven to 375ºF. Once crust is cooled remove from refrigerator and, bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until lightly browned. Let tart shell cool at room temperature before filling.

Note: you can use store-bought crust, but remember to "dock" (prick) crust before baking to prevent puffing!

Use your favorite lemon curd recipe, or pastry cream. For the tart pictured above, I used a 'no bake' cream cheese filling, which is an easy, easy base to make and can be flavored with a myriad of different extracts, e.g., vanilla, almond, mint etc:

1.5 packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
1-cup whipped cream
1/2 teaspoon of extract of your choice. Use an extract flavor that will enhance the fruit. For example, I normally like using a lemon or orange extract for strawberries and kiwis, but for blueberries, I like to use almond extract. 

You can select the fruit of your choice (e.g., strawberries, plums, grapes, raspberries, melons etc). Fresh fruit in season is always best.

¼ cup Apricot jelly or Grape jelly melted with 1 tbs of water, microwave for 10 seconds and blend well. Note:  jelly works best, but if you use a fruit jam, strain it before glazing.

Using a mixer, mix cream cheese sugar and salt on medium speed until creamy. Then slowly add whipped cream and extract, increase speed to medium high until the mixture is nice and fluffy, like frosting, but firmer.  Spread into cooled tart shell  and smooth out surface until even. Arrange fruit on top of filling as you like, use your imagination. With a pastry brush, glaze with melted jam. 

It's important that you chill this well before serving, minimum 2-3 hours. You can actually make this dessert a day ahead. 

Once chilled. Loosen bottom of pan and remove. You can easily slide the tart onto a serving dish! 

A variation, top with toasted nuts

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