Fruit Tartlets

These are the ultimate tea treat or after dinner dessert. They are extremely easy to make, even easier to assemble and they definitely look the part. I had been wanting to experiment a bit with my small tartlet tins ever since I bought them, but it took me a shopping trip to M&S (fuelled by vouchers) and some really nice blueberries and blackberries to actually make these.

The pastry I used is pâte brisée, which can be considered a sweet version of shortcrust pastry. It is a slightly lighter and more delicate pastry if compared to the latter and it is made with the addition of an egg yolk, rather than just by mixing butter, salt and flour with water. The method described below makes the whole difference, because rather than using a food processor or a mixing bowl, you use your hands from the beginning to the end and mix the dough straight on the worktop. The overall result is pliable and supple and can therefore be rolled out very thinly and still bake to a crisp texture.

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Ingredients (for the pastry)

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp icy cold water

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 1 quantity home-made custard
  • 5 small amaretto biscuits, crushed to a very fine crumbs
  • berries of your choice (here blueberries and blackberries)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. First of all, make the pastry. Sift the flour and the salt onto a clean and dry worktop and make a large well in the centre. Put the butter between sheets of baking paper and pound with a rolling pin until very supple but still cold. Cut the butter into small pieces and put into the well together with the egg yolk, sugar and water.
  2. Use your hand to mash together the ingredients in the well by putting your fingertips together to form a beak shape.
  3. Once these are fully combined, use a plastic dough scraper to help you draw the flour in. When the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, gather the whole lot together and shape into a ball of dough. Feel the pastry and judge whether you need to add a little bit more water (if the dough is too dry and it won’t come together) or more flour (if the dough is too sticky).
  4. Lightly dust the worktop with flour and start to gently work the dough. Use the heel of your hands as this is usually colder than your fingers and it allows you put your whole body weight into the process. Work the pastry for only a couple of minutes by pressing it gently with the heel of your hand, then gathering it together into a ball again and repeating the process, until the dough is silky-smooth and very pliable.
  5. Flatten to a thick disk and wrap tightly in clingfilm, then chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using.
  6. In the meantime, prepare your custard. Once it has fully cooled down and you are ready to use it, stir in the amaretto biscuit crumbs.
  7. Once the pastry has cooled down completely, use a rolling pin to roll the pastry out. I have 4 tartlet tins, so I cut the pastry sheet into 4 and used each big square to line the tins. Cut the pastry at the top to get rid of the excess, but leave a bit overhanging as the pastry case will shrink in the oven. Chill your lined tartlet tins for at least half an hour.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and put a baking sheet in the oven. Prepare your tartlet tins for blind baking, then bake the tartlet cases for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the baking parchment and the beans, then return to the oven for another 15 minutes until golden and opaque.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to chill completely.
  10. Remove from the tins and fill with the amaretto-scented custard. Decorate with the berries of your choice, then lightly dust with icing sugar and some lemon zest.

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