Fruit Tart with Herbaceous Whipped Cream
Imagine you're planning a dinner for friends or family, and as the general preparation for guests progresses, you feel less and less like being on your feet, making a complicated (but delicious) dessert. Or while you're shopping for the perfect "in season" ingredient, it's unavailable for one reason or another. Great! Can a sister catch a break?
Yes. Yes we can. It's called the fruit tart. With a little hands-on time, a unique presentation and the ability to make use of flexible ingredients, this is our break.
Kumquats, mint and tarragon, Oh my! The last of winter's specialty citrus was still well stocked, while rhubarb was not. The tarragon planted between the tomatoes was in bloom and the mint was creeping out of its pot. The sweet mint and almost anise-like character of the tarragon seemed like an ideal compliment to the tart, slightly bitter sweetness of kumquats. If you've never had kumquats before, imagine an orange with a sweet peel, and very tart flesh that you eat like a seeded grape. They're little citrus fireworks.
The cool, herb-infused whipped cream plays up the floral notes in the fruit, and a smidge of cardamom (from the ginger family) adds a hint of fragrant complexity. Plus, isn't cardamom a delicious sounding word? Be weird for a minute and just say it quietly to yourself... Caaardamom.
Back to the food. Altogether, this dish spans about 3hrs. with only 30-35min of active time. It's a great recipe to start before dinner prep, allow for the resting time, and then quickly assemble and bake. This is just a pop-tart in a very elegant disguise. Okay. It's much more than that; but you get the idea.
Lets begin with ingredients for the tart (serves 6):
- 1 Puff pastry sheet (from my grocers freezer)
- 2 cups thinly sliced kumquats
- 2 tbsp of organic sugar (or sweetener of choice to taste)
- 1 pinch cardamom (optional)
For the whipped cream (makes 1.5 - 2 cups):
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- small bunch of mint (3-5 sprigs depending on strength of flavor. Reserve a few leaves for garnish)
- 2-3 sprigs of tarragon (or basil)
- 2 tbsp organic sugar
- Mesh strainer
- Metal or glass mixing bowl
- Metal whisk (Chill both of these in the freezer for at least 10min)
- Standard baking sheet
- Parchment paper
Infusing the cream is the first step; because it will need time to cool before it's whipped. I recommend starting this process before dinner prep, or the night before, if you decide to make these for a brunch.
- Pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into a small sauce pan on Med heat.
- Grab your handful of herbs and rub/roll them between your palms to release the oils. Add these to the cream
- Heat the cream and herbs just until it starts to simmer. Then remove it from the heat and allow it to steep for about 30min. (This is a good time to prep the fruit.)
- After steeping, strain the cream into a liquid measuring cup or small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cool 90min - 2hrs.
Preparing the fruit.
- Always give your uncut fruit a good soak in fruit and veggie wash, rinse well and gently dry.
- For fruit that requires slicing, think thin (like kumquats, strawberries, plums etc.). This will keep the tart light and allow for pretty layers. If you're using berries that will be kept whole, resist the temptation to pile on that beautiful fruit.
- In a small bowl, mix your sliced fruit (or whole berries) with sugar, honey or agave to taste. Add that dash of cardamom if you dare. Set this aside in the fridge while your cream is cooling.
- Allow the puff pastry about 30-45 min. to thaw before assembly.
Whipping the cream.
- Add the 2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar to your icy cold bowl.
- Pour the chilled, infused cream on top.
- Flex those forearms and whisk like your life depends on it (until stiff peaks form)!
- If you need to pause, stick the bowl and whisk back in the freezer, shake it off, and get back to whisking!
- Store your freshly whipped cream in the refrigerator until you're ready to plate the tarts.
Assembling the tarts.
- Preheat your oven to 425º or the recommended temperature for your puff pastry.
- Cut the pastry sheet into three, approx. 3 inch wide strips. Then, cut those strips in half to make 6 rectangles.
- For sliced fruit, I recommend using a fork or fingers to avoid keep excess syrup off the pastry. layer the fruit about 1/4-1/2 inch away from the edge. Keep those layers or berry clusters nice and light.
- Sprinkle the tops and edges with a little sugar. (optional)
- Bake for 10-15 min. allow to cool for at least 20 min. before topping with cream.
- Add a generous dollop of that whipped cream and garnish with a small mint leaf or two!