Winter 2010 has been unusually mild save for the occasional rainy mornings and uncomfortably chilly nights. In our tropical paradise, sudden drops in temperature are not common. Though you’ll find everyone here wrapped in sweaters and scarves, the temperature rarely drops below 20 oC.

The weather last weekend was so warm and bright that it could easily have been mistaken for a summer day. That could be why I decided on a summer dessert instead of denser spice infused ones I have been baking lately.

It was also the perfect opportunity to make use of this highly rated tart dough recipe from the Dorie Greenspan blog. This soft cookie-like dough was part of January 2009 TWD for a lovely French Pear Tart that I plan to make shortly.

DORIE’S  SWEET  TART  DOUGH

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cold

1 egg yolk, room temperature

Method:

  • Sift flour, salt  and sugar into a large bowl.
  • Cut cold butter into cubes and rub into flour mixture.
  • Use your finger tips to do this until the mixture looks lumpy. It is ok if you have bits of butter that have not blended.

  • Add the egg yolk and combine by hand until dough sticks together and forms a loose ball in the bowl. 
  • Transfer to a lightly floured counter and bring the dough together. Do not knead else it will toughen while baking.

  • Divide dough into 3 parts; for the tartlet recipes below you will require 1/3 of the dough from this recipe for each.
  • Wrap dough in clingfilm and chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake. Can keep for upto 3 weeks in the freezer.

  • If using chilled dough, thaw before rolling out or pressing.
  • Press dough into pan of approp size with finger tips. 
  • Leave to chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Chilling causes the dough to keep its shape better during baking.

 

  • Another reason for chilling pastry dough prior to baking is that it prevents butter in the dough from melting.
  • Cold butter expands during baking to the characteristic melt-in-the-mouth super flaky crust of fruit tarts.

Strawberries are so hard to resist when you go grocery shopping. I often find myself giving in to these cute bright red berries. I’m sure you’d agree that they are kinda difficult to ignore. By the time I get them home I have to start wondering what to make out of them.

The small punnet I bought this weekend ended atop my chocolate filled tart to make this elegant dessert. Dark chocolate offsets the natural tartness of strawberries and pairs off superbly with the delicate tart crust.  Ideal for ending a romantic dinner in style.

TARTE AUX FRAISES

 

Ingredients:

Sweet tart dough, as described above

100g dark chocolate

1/3 cup whipped cream

100g fresh strawberries

 

Method:

  • Press the dough into a 5-inch round pan to cover the base and 2cm along the sides of the pan with a uniform layer.
  • Preheat oven to 300 oF. Place in fridge to firm up before baking while you get the filling and topping ready.

 

  • For the filling, break chocolate into pieces and melt it in the microwave or over a waterbath/ bain marie.
  • Leave to cool slightly before folding in whipped cream.

 

  • Beat filling until smooth and silky and place in pastry bag.
  • Remove pastry shell from frigde and immediately stow in preheated oven. Bake for 30 mins or until golden in colour.

 

  • Allow baked shell to cool to room temperature on wire rack.
  • Pipe filling into shell and level it off with a spatula.
  • Lastly, slice the strawberries thinly with a sharp knife.

 

  • Arrange strawberry slices over tart in an attractive pattern.
  • You may use any fresh or canned fruit that takes your fancy.
  • Serve right away or store in fridge until serving time.

With my other round of sweet tart dough, I made a very refreshing kiwifruit tart with a light custard base. Unlike apples, oranges, bananas and lemons, kiwifruit is not much of a baking ingredient. It serves more as a garnish for iced cakes and desserts.

Wikipedia describes the fruit as being a rich source of vitamin C. One medium size kiwifruit contains about 46 calories, 0.3g fats, 1g protein, 11g carbohydrates, 75mg vitamins and 2.6g fiber.

Its healthy nutritional profile therefore makes it a great option for those in want of something that is not as sinful as it looks. Bake this low-fat tart for your figure conscious friends; for once they won’t say no to dessert.

TARTE AUX KIWIS

 

Ingredients:

Sweet tart dough, as described above

2 tbs custard powder

2 tbs sugar

200 ml milk

1 tsp caramel extract

1/3 cup whipped cream

1 large kiwi fruit

 

Method:

  • Press the dough into a 5-inch round pan to cover the base and 2cm along the sides of the pan with a uniform layer.
  • Preheat oven to 300 oF. Place in fridge to firm up before baking while you get the filling and topping ready.

 

  • For the filling, combine custard powder, sugar, caramel extract and milk in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  • Over low heat, cook until mixture thickens while stirring continuously. Remove from heat and leave to cool slightly.

 

  • Fold in whipped cream and beat filling until smooth and silky. Place in pastry bag fitted with a large plain nozzle.
  • Remove pastry shell from frigde and immediately stow in preheated oven. Bake for 30 mins or until golden in colour.

 

  • Allow baked shell to cool to room temperature on wire rack.
  • Pipe filling into shell and level it off with a spatula.
  • Lastly, slice the kiwi fruit thinly with a sharp knife.

 

  • Arrange kiwi fruit slices over tart in an attractive pattern.
  • Serve right away or store in fridge until serving time.
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