It’s about that time of year again, where it’s become pretty much obligatory for me to complain about the weather. We’ve hit May, and I desperately want it to be summer. I’m ready for sunshine, backyard BBQ, ice cream, and swimsuit season! (Well, ok, I’m never actually ready for swimsuit season, but I’d like to be. Perhaps someday?)
Unfortunately, Colorado weather rarely complies with my wishes, and we’ve still been yo-yoing between “break out the capris” and “don’t put that heavy coat away quite yet”.
I however, have decided I’m going to completely ignore the weather and wear my flip flops rain or shine. (I’m not worried about blue feet, really I’m not!) Plus, I’m going to get right in there with those summer recipes I know we’re all dying for… First up, Berries and Cream Tartlets.
For me this dessert is, ♫ all about that crust, bout that crust, bout that crust ♫. One way or another this thing is going down with a buttery shortbread style tart shell. But, then there are some decisions to be made. One could make the shell the standard thickness and end up with six cute little tartlets from the recipe and a thin slightly crisp perfect tart shell, with plenty of room for berries and cream. Or, one could make only four tartlets, and divide all that extra dough between them and just smooth it in there. This just so happens to give you a super thick almost cookie like crust with a crisp outer ring and a super soft and chewy middle. (I’m calling this the cookie/tart hybrid. Or maybe a tart shortcake, because it is somewhat reminiscent of a really good strawberry shortcake.) Hmm. Decisions, decisions. Do we want that traditional style tart or a mega-awesome cookie style crust? You can probably guess which way I vote, but I leave the final choice up to you. However, I promise you won’t be disappointed either way you go.
Then there’s the berries. Is there really anything that says summer like fresh juicy berries? And even if you’re doing summer a hair to early like me, you can always macerate those berries and make em’ sweet and juicy! Lastly, for good measure, we’re going to nestle a nice thick layer of lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, in-between that gorgeous crust and heaping pile of berries. It’s simple, it’s even kind of elegant, and it’s most certainly tasty.
Happy early summer.
Berries and Cream Tartlets- Yields 4-6 tartlets (depending on how thick you want the crust). Crust adapted from Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year.
- 1 and 1/2 sticks butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- Prepare mini tart pans by greasing with spray oil or butter and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375*.
- Cream together the butter and sugar using either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and blend in throughly using the mixer. Add the pinch of sea salt, and flour about 1/2 cup at a time and mix, making sure all the flour is well incorporated before adding the next half cup. When all the flour has been incorporated, use your hands to shape the dough into a disk. Wrap the disk in wax paper and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Divide the dough into four or six equal parts, depending on how thick you would like the crust to be. Four parts will yield for tartlets with a very thick crust, more like a cookie then a tart shell. Six parts will yield a somewhat thick but more of a traditional tart like crust.
- Take one piece of the divided dough. Use your hands to roll it into a ball. Place it in the center of one of the mini tart pans. Gently using a tart tamper or your fingers press the dough into the pan so that the dough fills the bottom and sides and a recess is formed in the center. Use a fork to gently poke several holes in the bottom of the crust, without piercing all the way through. Set on a baking tray. Repeat with the other three or five pieces of dough.
- Bake the crust lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the crusts from the pans and set on a wire rack or plate. Cool the crusts completely before filling.
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- one 16 oz clamshell strawberries
- one 4.4 oz clamshell of blueberries
- additional sugar to macerate the berries if needed
- Add the whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to a mixing bowl. Using either an electric hand mixer or wire whisk whip the cream until it form still peaks. Whip for an additional 30 seconds to a minute to make the cream a little stiffer, so that it will be able to hold up under the berries. Set in the fridge covered until ready to assemble the tarts.
- To prepare the fruit, wash throughly removing any little bits of debris. Dry the berries gently with a clean kitchen towel. Slice the strawberries into bite sized pieces. Taste both the strawberries and blueberries for sweetness. If the berries are sweet enough they can be used as is to top the tarts. If they are not as sweet as you’d like place them in a bowl, add sugar (start with 2-3 tablespoons), and stir well. Allow the berries to sit for about 30 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add additional sugar if needed. Allow the berries to sit for at least anther 15 minutes if additional sugar is added.
- To assemble the tartlets spread a generous serving of the whipped cream inside the tart shell. Top with scoops of the berries, draining off any excess liquid as it will ruin the cream. Serve immediately.