Parisian Fruit Tarts {ModBak}

This is the first tart recipe in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker, and although I generally bake the Challenge recipes roughly in order, this was actually the 11th recipe I made from this section. We started baking from this section at the beginning of April, and I wanted to wait until the fruit at the grocery was a bit nicer looking before I made this tart.

This tart has three components — crust, pastry cream, and fruit filling. Each one is fairly easy to put together. The recipe calls for press-in cookie dough for the crusts, so that’s what I used. Based on my previous experience with this crust recipe, I refrigerated the dough before pressing it into 4 1/2-inch tart pans. The chilled dough is much easier to work with, and chilling some of the dough while working with the rest keeps it firm enough to handle. I baked the crusts for about 15 minutes at 350°F until the crusts were nicely browned and baked through.

The tart recipe includes a recipe for pastry cream, but I decided to take a shortcut and use King Arthur Flour pastry cream filling mix, which makes a rich, delicious pastry cream with no cooking or fuss.

The fruit was also very easy to prepare. I made an apricot glaze by boiling strained apricot preserves and water, then reducing it by about one-third. While the glaze was cooling, I washed, peeled, and sliced the fruit — kiwi, mango, blueberries, and blackberries. I had wanted to use fresh pineapple and strawberries, too, but I bought them too early and they weren’t in the best shape by the time I made the tarts.

After layering the fruit in a bowl, I poured in the glaze, then mixed it all gently with a rubber spatula. To assemble the tarts, I spread a layer of pastry cream in the shells, then piled on the fruit.

We absolutely loved these tarts. The crunchy cookie dough, creamy filling, and sweet-tart fruit all worked perfectly together. I will definitely be making these again and again for my family and friends. And since you can use any mixture of fruit you want, the possibilities are endless.

If you grew up eating “fruit pizza” made with canned sugar cookie dough and cream cheese filling, you owe it to yourself to try the real thing. You’ll be amazed at how easy these stunning and delicious tarts are to prepare. You could also make this as a single large tart, like my friend Abby did, to take to a party or carry-in dinner.

Either way, I guarantee it will make more of an impression than fruit pizza.

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Mango & Rice Tart (Pudding) {ModBak}

I’ve been involved with the Modern Baker Challenge for a little over a year now. Some recipes have been bigger hits with my family than others, and I enjoyed the process of baking some of them more than others. But each of the nearly 70 recipes I’ve made so far has come out as expected.

Until now.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have had my first Modern Baker FAIL. Let me say right up front, though, that it was my fault, not that of the recipe. I know exactly what I did wrong, and I’m sure that if I tried baking this recipe again, I could achieve the intended results.

This is actually a rather simple recipe. You cook some rice, make a simple syrup, mix them together with coconut cream, then let the whole thing sit until the rice soaks up all the liquid. This mixture is then scraped into a prebaked cookie tart shell and topped with sliced mangoes.

So, how did I mess this up? On the very first step. I was doing five other things while cooking the rice, and let it scorch a bit. It didn’t burn exactly, but enough of it stuck to the bottom of the pan that there wasn’t sufficient rice to soak up all the liquid. Looking at the filling, I knew there was no way this would hold up as a tart. Picture a fruit pie that doesn’t set up, and you’ll have an idea of what I was facing.

Never one to let a little thing like failure get in my way, I realized the filling was about the texture of Kheer (Indian rice pudding), so I decided to serve it in custard dishes with sliced mangoes on top. My family didn’t know it was supposed to be a tart, and they loved it. And it really did taste like Kheer — sweet, creamy, and oh so coconutty. The mangoes gave the pudding an additional depth of texture and flavor and will be a regular part of my rice pudding and Kheer from now on.

I thought about remaking this recipe, but I feel like I got the true flavors in the pudding. And heaven knows I’ve eaten enough tarts in the past few months.