Deconstructed Summer Fruit Tart

deconstructed blueberry tart

Deconstructed desserts are very mod these days, you know. They also happen to be both a lazy and single person’s version of a tart, capturing the flavors and textures without the work of assembling an entire creation, which I like to save for parties or potlucks. I typically use an almond tart crust for the more official version of this dessert, but couldn’t quite be bothered without an occasion, so topped pastry creme and berries with loosely chopped toasted almonds instead. If you want to tie it together, drizzle a little honey or jam over top.

A few more items you may be interested in. First and most self-aggrandizing, I now have an Instagram! Follow me @dancingtreekitchen. I only have a few pictures up so far but if you want to keep up with what’s cooking in Dancing Tree Kitchen in real time, that’s the new spot! Expect lots of food and a few nature shots (mostly trees), because that’s what inspires me to pull out my camera.

blueberries

I don’t often share stories about trees, because I get so caught up in the food and ag-gy news, but it just so happens that there are many people who love trees as I do, and some of them expressed it when trees were assigned email addresses. I will now be accepting odes to your favorite tree…

Human vaccines have turned out to be rather controversial for parents worried about unknown side effects, but as a whole they have been hugely beneficial in that small task of preventing humans from dying… what about plant vaccines? Researchers are trying to find ways to help boost a plant’s immune system, instead of adding external protections like pesticides. Seems like a good idea to me, although of course it depends on implementation.

And if you’re wondering how the Greeks can become a little more stable, I think this guy growing his own food has the right idea.

deconstructed berry tart materials

“Summer fruit” is intentionally ambiguous in this -recipe-. Your particular landscape and certainly the weather and seasons will probably have different fruits coming up every week. Here in Maine, we are in that fantastically lucky timeframe when blueberries are beginning to proliferate but strawberries are still abounding, and sweeter than at the beginning of the season.

I love pastry creme with raw berries. Another fabulous option is grilled stone fruit, which I tested for the first time last week to the gastronomic delight of my roommates. Cut peaches or plums in half, remove the pit, and grill for a few minutes until soft. They get warm and caramelly; my plums highlighted the delicate almond flavor in the creme. Fabulous.

grilled plums with pastry creme
(I was too busy eating to capture a good picture, apologies)

Deconstructed Summer Fruit Tart
Pastry creme
1 1⁄4 cups half and half 
2 Tablespoons cornstarch 
3 egg yolks 
1 tsp vanilla, or 1/4 tsp almond extract
3 Tablespoons sugar 
2 1⁄2 Tablespoons butter

Summer fruit (berries, stone fruit, grilled stone fruit, a combination...)
Almonds, or other nuts, toasted and chopped to desired texture
Honey or jam for drizzling

Pastry creme (involves lots of whisking to prevent it from curdling): Heat half and half in the microwave until almost boiling. In medium saucepan, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Add the hot half and half slowly, whisking continuously, then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Keep at a boil, whisking, for 1-2 minutes—it should be thick and creamy. Remove from heat and scrape into a bowl. Let sit for a minute or two, then whisk in the butter and vanilla/other flavoring. Let cool—once cool enough, press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming, and place in refrigerator.

Serve a dollop of cold pastry creme with fresh or grilled fruit, sprinkled with nuts and drizzled with a little honey or jam. Happy summer!

P.S. I highly recommend going blueberry picking! Ask around for the non-secret secret spots near you and bring your friends and containers. Don’t go at dusk though, I ended up with an enormous array of bug bites (including one on my ankle that swelled up rather nicely for the subsequent few days).

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