RECIPE. Jun 25, 2010

Fruit Tart Bliss

I love brown butter shortbread. I love cream cheese frosting. I love fruit. The first time I had the absolute honor of eating all three together was for a good friends birthday. His wife made it and she called it “fruit pizza”. Not long after, another close friend made it for a gathering and I asked them both for the recipe. It became my staple dessert. It was fairly quick, easy, inexpensive and “oh my goodness” delicious. For fathers day this last weekend, I decided to try to perfect this blissful treat by making the crust taste less like sugar cookie and more like brown butter shortbread. The result? Unbelievably good. A moment in cooking history that makes me puff up my chest with pride. I’m eating the very last piece as I write this and I might have to go through a grieving process until I make it again.

It’s highly dangerous. Not just because it is so otherworldly in taste, texture and ease. It is also light, leaving you with the feeling that you could have just one more piece, even though you have managed to have four, or is that five pieces, in the last 30 minutes. It is deceptive and addictive. The fruit on top fools you into thinking “It’s good for me”. Justifies that 11pm slice larger than your dinner plate, when you know deep down inside, it’s sugar in disguise. So, don’t make this. I plead you, beg you, save yourself. If you can’t help it, then don’t blame me when you go to share your baked bliss with your family and you realize there is nothing left to share.

Using an electric mixer, mix together butter and sugar until just combined. Add vanilla. In medium bowl, sift together flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump on surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk.

Press dough into 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure finished edges are flat. I did not own either size pan so I opted to use a 13 inch baking pan with low edges and just press the dough out to 9 inches. You could also use a 8x8 baking dish and have a thicker crust. Chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 10-20 minutes, or until lightly browned. My tart was baked 20 minutes and I should have watched it more carefully as it probably would have been done in 10-15. Each oven is unique and can run hotter or colder than the temp it says on the front of the display. Just make sure you check the tart every five minutes or so after you remove the foil. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While tart is baking you can mix together cream cheese and vanilla until blended. Add 1/4 cup powdered sugar at a time and taste often. Mixture should taste like a cheesecake and have a sour cream consistency. Add more vanilla if you desire. Add filling to tart, once tart has cooled and spread evenly.

Choose fruits you want to slice to place on top of filling and place them in pattern desired. I usually start with sliced fruits like bananas, peaches and strawberries and then fill in the gaps with blueberries and raspberries.

Grate a little dark chocolate over the top when finished placing the fruit or sprinkle with coconut, or do both! Serve immediately or can be placed in refrigerator up to five days (fruit will look less fresh the longer it is in the refrigerator). Tart shell can be baked one day ahead of time and stored on the counter.