The tart dough here is a basic sugar cookie recipe known as 1-2-3 cookie dough. It refers to the ratio by weight of sugar:fat:flour (in that order). Leftover dough can be baked into cookies of any size, shape or form. Simply bake at 350°F until the bottoms of the cookies just begin to brown.
This pastry cream is essentially a thick vanilla pudding lightened with whipped cream to make it silky and luscious. And I dare say we all know what to do with excess vanilla pudding.
- 8 ounces butter, unsalted, softened (2 sticks)
- ½ cup/4 ounces granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
- 2 ¼ cups/12 oz cake, pastry or all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk, whole or 2% recommended
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- Pinch salt
- ⅓ cup cornstarch
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For Diplomat Cream
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated or confectioner's sugar
- Fresh berries or sliced fruit
Bake Tart Shell(s)
- With a stand or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until smooth and lightened in color.
- Add egg and then vanilla, scraping down the bowl and paddle as you beat.
- At low speed, slowly add flour until the dough comes together in a cohesive mass.
- Form into a flat disc, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least two hours. This can be done a few days ahead and chilled, or frozen.
- On a lightly floured surface or between pieces of parchment paper, roll dough to a quarter-inch thickness, and at least an inch larger than your tart pan. For mini tarts, use a knife to cut out circles a little larger than your pans.
- Gently press the rolled dough into the bottom of the shell(s) and up the sides. Roll the pin along the top of tart shells to remove excess overhang. Dock with a fork, if you choose.
- Freeze the shells for twenty minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Line shells with foil or parchment and fill with pie weights, dried beans, spare change, or rice.
- Bake mini shells for 10-20 minutes, remove the weights, and bake until edges begin to brown and the bottom appears cooked through. A large tart will need more time, around 20 minutes with the weights, then 20 more minutes after taking the weights off.
- Cool completely before removing it from the pan(s).
Prepare Pastry Cream
- Combine half of the sugar, salt, and half of the milk in a saucepot. Bring just to a boil over high heat.
- While the mixture is coming to a boil, combine the cornstarch and remaining sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Whisk in the remaining milk to make a slurry (thick starch-liquid mixture). Then gently stir eggs into the slurry.
- Once the milk reaches a boil, slowly pour the hot mixture into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. This tempers the heat into eggs so they don’t curdle or scramble.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pot, and turn the heat down to medium.
- Whisk constantly until pastry cream comes to a slow boil, with just a few large bubbles breaking the surface.
- Pour into a bowl, whisk in the butter until melted, and press plastic wrap over the surface.
- If your cooked cream has lumps, you can strain it through a fine-mesh sieve. Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to vent the cream, and cool in the refrigerator.
- Fill the baked tart shells with the chilled vanilla pastry cream, or follow the directions below to make diplomat cream (pastry cream lightened with whipped cream).
- Whip heavy cream with sugar to soft peaks, and fold gently into pastry cream until combined.
- Transfer the cream to a pastry bag (no tip) or large plastic baggie, and snip one corner to make a half-inch hole.
- Pipe cream into tart shells so it almost comes all the way up the sides.
- Layer fresh fruit on top. Store chilled, serve room temperature.
Need dairy-free? Reach for your favorite vegan or dairy-free butter.
Wheat-Free. I tend to experiment with different combinations of gluten-free flours like almond, oat, or tapioca. But for a super-easy switch to gluten-free, a 1:1 gluten-free blend works great here. The measure-for-measure flour blends are so reliable at this point, it also seems a waste of time to make your own.
My favorite cup-for-cup gluten-free flours are Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Flour and Better Batter. For less starch and a little more nutrients, Bob's All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend is legume-based and also makes for a nice crust.
Grain-Free. For a quick and easy paleo-style cookie dough or tart crust, replace the flour with one like Bob's Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour. If you like doctoring up a homemade blend, I find 60% almond flour with 40% tapioca or arrowroot flour gives a nice cookie crumb. It's the formula I use for my paleo chocolate chip cookies. A scale comes in very handy for making a homemade blend, but you can also be done measuring by volume with cups. For this recipe, you would use 8 ounces/1⅓ cup of almond flour, and 4 ounces/1 scant cup of tapioca or arrowroot.
Vegan? Ditch the egg and use your favorite butter alternative. I rarely use an egg when mixing cookie dough destined for tarts. I love Miyoko's or Earth's Balance Soy Free sticks both for their lack of mystery ingredients, monounsaturated fat content, and great flavors.
Keywords: tart recipe, fruit tart, pastry crust, sugar cookie dough, pastry cream, diplomat cream, desserts, baking with kids