“Where did you buy these delicious tartlets?” That’s the question to anticipate when you serve this beautiful dessert at a party. They look like you’ve plucked them from the display case of a fancy patisserie or Italian pastry shop. But they’re homemade, and they couldn’t be easier.
First, there’s that dough. Forget kneading or rolling: This dough uses nothing more than a food processor and a zip-top plastic bag. (Really!) Make it out of pantry staples such as egg, vanilla, flour, salt, butter and sugar. Better yet, you can make multiple disks, put them in the freezer, and pull them out when you were on the verge of forgetting an important birthday or want to celebrate a kid’s good grades.
The rest of the dessert involves a simple custard you can top with any berry that’s in season. (These are particularly gorgeous with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries on the Fourth of July.)
Just don’t skip the lemon juice in that berry mixture: Along with the sugar, it’s necessary to brighten up the fruits’ flavor the tiniest bit. And remember that—as is true of most summer desserts—this one works with nearly any stone fruit.
Buttermilk Tartlets with Fresh Berries
For the tart dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz./200 g.) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g.) sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml.) buttermilk
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) heavy cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup (8 oz./250 g.) plus 2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. cornstarch
Pinch of kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup (4 oz./125 g.) mixed berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, and hulled and sliced strawberries
In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons very cold water. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds, or just until the butter is broken up into the flour. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump the dough into a large zip-top plastic bag and press into a flat disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day before using, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Have ready six 4-inch (10-cm.) tartlet pans. Divide the dough into 6 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each dough piece into a round about 1/4 inch (6 mm.) thick. Transfer each round into a tartlet pan, pressing the dough up the sides of each pan. Freeze the shells until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line the tartlets with foil and fill with pie weights. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the crusts dry out, about 15 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and let cool.
In a saucepan, combine the buttermilk, cream and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to the saucepan along with the egg yolks and whisk to blend. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a simmer and is as thick as pudding, about 6 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large liquid measuring cup. Whisk in the butter until blended.
Divide the filling between the tartlet shells. Bake until the filling looks dry but jiggles slightly with the pan is shaken, 14-16 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the berries and the 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
Preheat the broiler and broil the tartlets until the tops brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Let the tartlets cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool. To with the berries and their juices and serve. Serves 6.
Find more mouthwatering ways to end a meal in our cookbook Dessert of the Day, by Kim Laidlaw.