This tart is actually six feet wide, using giant, genetically modified fruits.
Walking into a kitchen store gives me the same unabashed delight now that I had as a child when going to Toys R Us. The rush of excitement that came from going home with a new Transformer, set of legos, or Atari game has transformed into the giddy anticipation of heading home with a new knife, splatter screen, or saucepan. Maybe not quite as excited, but still, it's a fair analogy.
Well yesterday I came home with something truly frivolous, made all the more ridiculous by the fact that I only went to the kitchen store to get Christmas presents for family and walked out with nothing but this: a silicone tartlette mold. How often do I make tarts? Very close to never. I don't even usually eat or make desserts. Those of you who read Kitchen Monkey regularly probably know of my abiding distaste for most forms of cake.
But I digress. I've always liked these little fruit tarts, and a friend's potluck yesterday was ample excuse to try my hand at them. The recipe came from Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques (see previous post) and required an enormous amount of effort.
My friend Nick was recently lamenting a potluck he held where half the guests brought baguettes. I was sort of expecting a similar affair last night, particularly since most of the guests were law students, but to my delight the potluck offered an impressive array of delicious dishes. A perfect asparagus and red pepper frittata, a cous cous with complex flavors, latkes for hanukkah, and some Thai meatballs that were--and I say this without hyperbole--tastier than any meatball I have ever had in my entire life. Sadly, I failed to get the recipe, but am in the process of tracking it down.
Now then, the tarts. I may post the recipe at some point. For now, enough to mention that they were great fun to make, though next time I may try using a food processor for the dough to cut down on the substantial effort. The dough is a standard pie/pastry shell mixture (pâte sucrée et croûte), which I rolled to a quarter inch thickness and pressed into the mold with another piece of dough floured to keep from sticking. I then trimmed the edges and placed in each mold a piece of wax paper. I then filled the molds with black beans pressed down to keep the dough from melting inward, and baked for about 7 minutes. I then removed the beans and baked for another 10 minutes. The silicone mold is great. No sticking at all, and they popped right out. In the meantime I made a crème pâtissière, a standard vanilla pastry creme. A large spoonful of the creme went into each shell, I then arranged raspberries, blackberries, and bits of kiwi. Then I brushed the fruit with a glaze of melted strawberry jelly.