Friday, May 27, 2011

Easy Lemon Cream Fruit Tarts

I learned to make friends with phyllo pastry when I worked for a catering company years ago.

It is an easy way to wrap up nearly anything- from basics like chicken and salmon to samosa filling or brie and fruit appetizers. It even makes an easy tart shell.
These tarts are an easy dessert or special treat that can be made for a large group quite easily.

This isn't really a recipe but more of a method for making fool-proof "tarts" that can sing of summer's finest fruits. The super simple lemon cream filling is so tasty that you may find it makes a rather luxurious fruit dip with any leftover fruit you may have.

Lemon Cream Fruit Tarts
I don't give amounts for this "recipe" as I feel that it is all a matter of taste and is so simple, you can adapt it to make it your own. You can make it with no additional sugar if you so desire. You can make the tart shells and pastry cream a day ahead. Just make sure to assemble them no more than 2 hours ahead of serving time. If you happen to forget how to make the pastry shells, you can often find the recipe inside the package- just make sure to make it four layers thick so they don't get soggy.

Phyllo Shells

phyllo pastry, thawed in fridge overnight
melted butter

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees or temperature suggested on package. Brush a mini or smaller-sized muffin tin with melted butter.
2. On a clean working surface or large cutting board, place one sheet of phyllo pastry. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a teaspoon or more of sugar. Repeat until you have 4 layers of pastry. Keep phyllo covered with plastic and a damp paper towel until you are ready for the next batch.
3. Cut sheets of stacked pastry into small squares- roughly twice the size of the muffin tin you are filling. For a small muffin tin, you may find 5 X 5 or 6 X 6 grid of squares works. Check one before cutting the rest to see how it fits in the tin.
4. Press it gently into the muffin cup with your fingers, pressing the edges down onto the muffin tin slightly. Repeat with remaining pastry.
5. Bake until golden, about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of tin you are using. Allow to cool on cooling rack. If you are serving the next day, place them into a sealed container.

Lemon Cream Filling

lemon curd (good quality purchased or homemade), to taste
icing sugar, to taste
cut fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, grapes, etc.)

1. Whip container of whipping cream until fairly stiff. Add lemon curd to taste (you want to taste the lemon!) Add a few tablespoons of icing sugar if needed to sweeten. Refigerate until needed.
2. Spoon or pipe lemon cream into tart shells. Garnish with small pieces of cut fruit.
approx. 2 cups whipping cream
Pastry Shells