What I’ve Been Up To (and a fruit tart recipe)

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve updated my blog. I know, I didn’t mean to keep all of you hanging but I’ve been busy.

First of all, in case you haven’t looked (or you don’t subscribe to my Google Feed/Feedburner over a month ago), I’ve made an announcement over a month ago that: 1) I got accepted and going to graduate school! (I’m studying Masters of Public Health) and 2) I’m going to Paris, France for vacation toward the end of May!

I’ve been AWOL, at least with my blog (I’m sort of active on my Twitter), because of planning my five-night vacation to Paris. It’ll be my first time there and I hope the Icelandic volcano won’t screw up my vacation. When I do get to Paris, all I know I have to be prepared to eat and walk a lot. Gorge on a ton of cheese, macarons and all other wonderful, carb-y, buttery French pastries and bread! Sweet jeebus, I should start dieting by the thought of that…

Homemade Strawberry and blackberry tarts
Fruit tarts

To leave you on a food-related note, here’s a simple fruit tart recipe (it’s a hybrid of two recipes). For the baking-challenged, it’s not that bad. Just pre-measure all the ingredients and give the tart dough time to rest in the fridge and have the pastry cream cooled to room temperature or cold once you’ve finished making your cream. (For those of you who want some blog action from me, I promise I will be updating next week.)

Pâte Sucrée or Sweet Tart Dough
Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard*

4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Make the dough: Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until they are fully combined. With the motor running, incorporate the egg yolks and egg one at a time. Do not add an egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. Add the flour, and mix until everything is incorporated and the dough is smooth. Remove the dough from the bowl, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until it is completely chilled, at least 1 or 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Prepare a tart shell: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough in all directions until it forms a circle about 1/4-inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Drape the dough over the rolling pin, and unroll it over the pan (should be four 4-1/2 inch tart pans). Gently press the dough into the pan, making sure it fits snugly. Roll the pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough. Prick (or dock) the dough with a fork. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let the dough rest.

Fully bake the tarts: Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a circle of parchment paper over the dough and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and continue baking for another 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let it cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack.

*I changed the directions slightly to adjust to the fruit tarts of Ina Garten’s recipe. I prefer not to use shortening in my baked goods. Also, this recipe will create more than enough tarts needed. To store, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in a freezer bag and freeze it. Should keep well for 3 months.

Pastry cream
Bowl of pastry cream

Pastry Cream
From Strawberry Tarts by Ina Garten

5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cognac (I used the fancy Remy Martin XO Excellence)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Ingredients to assemble the tart:
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
1/2 pint of blackberries, optional**

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with blackberries, if using, and serve.

**My personal addition in lieu of pistachios in the original recipe.

Homemade Strawberry and blackberry tart
Pretty, glossy, tasty tart


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.

  1. Eddie says:

    Have a great trip to Paris! Your tart looks amazing; I can’t believe it is so simple to make (I consider myself in the baking-challenged department). I am going to link to this post in my weekly roundup of my favorite recipes.

  2. Danny says:

    Congrats on grad school! And yea, be prepared to walk around all the time in Paris. I had a 5 day metro pass and still was dead tired at the end of the day from just doing everything. The five days are going to pass by like a whirlwind. Oh and as for bringing home stuff, I’d say go for it b/c if customs doesn’t stop you, you get to bring it all!

  3. jen says:

    CONGRATULATIONS!! i’m studying for my GRE’s right now:-( and looking for MPH programs in the city. i’m thinking of hunter/columbia. any other reccs?

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