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Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Berry Tarts

I am visiting, Dollinks. Not officially here, but visiting. As you know, Ive gone fishing. In the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live, our late summer has swanned in like a temptress, wearing blouses too low and skirts too high (not to mention hips too broad and shorts too tight). Only an idiot cooks in weather like this, and I am not an idiot.

Mmmm ...! No idiocy required
Still, one must hold body and soul together. These Summer Berry Tarts use only the freshest berries, with hardly any glaze to bind them so that the berries’ flavor shines through. I used blueberries and raspberries to make mine, but choose any berries you like. To keep things über easy, I didn’t cook the berries, used frozen puff pastry to make the shells, and didn’t bother interweaving pastry tops or doing anything fancy to these little gems. 
I also used tart pans with removable bottoms, though it doesn’t much matter because the pastry easily slips from the other kind; the photos below show examples of both types of pans.
Naturally, these light ’n’ lovely tarts should be served chilled. Rather than add more than a whisper of sugar, I used a dab of whipped cream to reduce the berries tartness.
Summer Berry Tarts:
To Prepare the Pastry:
Half of a 14-oz. (397 g) package puff pastry, thawed overnight in the refrigerator. 
Just enough all-purpose flour to sprinkle on work surface 
Preheat oven to 450 deg. F.  Dusting work surface with a small amount of flour, roll thawed puff pastry to approximately ⅛-in. in thickness (I used a silicone pastry mat for this job - no sticking, with far less flour needed!). When rolled dough is thin enough for your liking, lightly press top sides of tart pans onto it, marking - but not cutting through - dough. 
For the size of tart pan I used (4-¾-in. wide by ½-in. deep), trim dough about ⅜-in. beyond pan’s impression in the dough. Slip each trimmed circle of dough into ungreased tart pan. Using the end of a small spoon, press the pastry against the fluted edge of the tart pan so it hugs the pan and looks “pretty.” Poke lightly floured fork tines into each tart bottom 10 or 12 times. Freeze shells 15 min. before baking. Bake 5-to-6 min., until lightly golden. Makes five or six tarts.
To Prepare Berry Filling and Fruit Glaze: 
2 c. fresh blueberries (or berries of your choice)
½ c. fresh raspberries (or berries of your choice)
½ c. puréed, strained juice made from fresh berries (see Note)
2 tbsp. honey or granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch
Whipped cream, as desired
Combine berries; chill and set aside (Exception: Raspberries. Fold them in after adding fruit glaze). I’m not a great fan of powdered fruit glazes, but if that’s what you generally use, be my guest! I’ve suggested a better alternative in the Note that follows. I was fortunate enough to have some juice I’d puréed and strained from last summer’s blackberry crop; freezing pure juice (rather than whole berries) is a great space-saver in my freezer if I choose to make jelly next winter. 
I had just ½ c. of juice left - not enough to make jelly - so I whisked the sugar and starch into that amount of cold juice (if it’s hot, the starch will lump), combining it well before heating it over the stovetop until the mixture thickened. But back to you: Chill thoroughly, stirring in only as much glaze as you need to coat berries. Heap chilled, glazed berries into pastry-filled tarts. Fill tarts only as needed. Don’t fill them ahead or the pastry will become soggy. Top with whipped cream.
Use a one-piece tart pan ...
Note: You can also use ⅓-to-½ c. blueberry or raspberry jelly, warmed in a small saucepan until jelly liquifies. Cool to room temperature before combining with berries. 




Or a two-piece tart pan with removable base

Trim pastry 3/8-in. beyond impression left by tart pan

Lay pastry in pan; overhang allows room for pan sides

Gently fit against pan's bottom and sides

Press pastry against pan's fluted sides with end of spoon

Continue until almost all pastry is used


Prick fitted pastry shell to prevent pastry from rising in
awkward places. If it rises anyway, prick it while it's hot,
straight from the oven, allowing room for berry filling 

Freeze shells before popping into the oven 

By whichever method you choose, prepare fruit glaze 

Use only the freshest berries - the pick of the crop!

Add thickened, cooled fruit glaze

Using a gentle hand, combine until each berry is coated

Because they're soft and delicate, raspberries go in last

Ease cooled pastry from tart pan by raising removable base

Separate cooled pastry from bottom of tart pan, too

Fill cooled shells with chilled berries, serving at once

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