The Tart As Art
Fresh fruit tarts are one of my favorite things to make; they are a refreshing change from heavier desserts like cakes and pies and are gorgeous to look at with their bright color combinations and the way the fruit is artfully arranged in a tart shell. I love the way they glisten under a blanket of fruit glaze that magically transforms them to look almost like stained glass windows.
I take my inspiration for some of the ones I make often from the many pastry windows that I have peered into in Italy where they are designed with so much food fashion flair that the tart becomes art itself.
Use fruits in season so summertime is perfect because so many different kinds are available, then let your artistic side run free as you arrange different colors and sizes and shapes in the tart shell. The only drawback is that the finished tart is a work of art almost too pretty to eat.
Plum Dandy Sugar Crust Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until light. Beat in flour, salt and milk until mixture is moist and comes together.
Press dough into a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom, making sure to also press dough up the sides. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crust is golden. Cool to room temperature.
6 large plums, cut into thin slices
3/4 cup cranberry juice or water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup sugar
Place 1 cup of plum slices in a small saucepan, add ¼ cup of the juice or water and cook over medium heat until the slices are very soft and mushy. Transfer them to a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and press on the slices with a spoon to remove as much pulp as possible. Set aside.
In the same saucepan off the heat, combine the remaining juice or water, cornstarch, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is a thick and shiny glaze. Add the reserved plum pulp and mix in well. Cool.
Arrange the remaining plum slices in the cooled tart shell overlapping the slices to completely cover the shell.
Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze evenly over the plums. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into wedges.
More great tart recipes at www.ciaoitalia.com