Recipe, word selection and photos from Elizabeth Miller of the awesome savorysaltysweet.com
While there exists absolutely no possibility that I will ever win the World Series, finish the Dakar Rally, or claim first prize in the Iditarod, I am certain that I could easily smoke the competition in any sort of contest that involves coming up with a deliciously unplanned, spur of the moment dessert while faced with a sparsely stocked larder. Did you just find out that you have to bring dessert to a family dinner that starts in just one short hour? I’ve got your back. Only have bits and pieces of this and that laying around? No problem. I am here to help.
Your easiest course of direction in the realm of last minute desserts is the fruit tart. Particularly during the summer months, when fresh fruit is likely to be found hanging out in your kitchen, just waiting to be enjoyed, you can’t find anything more willing to be fancied up than fresh fruit. Because I am the type of person who tends to have a pie crust or two sitting in the freezer at all times (because, remember, I am no super athlete, but I could certainly be considered a super dessert conjurer), I had this crust rolled out, baked, and ready to be filled in no time at all. If you don’t happen to be a hoarder of buttery pie crusts, don’t worry. You can buy a ready-made crust from the store and, I promise you, I won’t tell a soul.
To gussy up your fruit tart, you can’t go wrong with spreading a thin layer of soft, lightly sweetened cheese in the crust before piling on the fruit. When I made this tart, I happened to have just a tiny bit of mascarpone cheese sitting in the refrigerator and, lightly whipped up with a bit of vanilla extract, it made for a perfect pairing with the sweet berries and light, flaky crust. Mascarpone worked wonders here, but cream cheese would also be good, or, if you are looking to add a bit more flair to your dessert, a light spreading of goat cheese would be fantastic. Don’t have any cheese lying around, period? Consider drizzling the floor of your tart with a bit of melted chocolate.
To finish your tart, pile on whatever berries or fruits you have at the ready. In keeping with the theme of ease with this tart, don’t be afraid to throw in whatever fruit combination you can manage. If you only have one peach, a handful of blueberries, and five raspberries? Perfect. That sounds delightful. If you’re feeling extra inspired, Blend up a bit of the fruit with some water, gently heat it on the stove with a pinch of sugar, then brush the resulting glaze over the top of your dessert. Then step back, take a moment to marvel at the masterpiece you’ve just created, and use every possible ounce of your willpower to resist digging in right then and there.
Emergency Fruit Tart
1 single layer pie crust
2 to 3 cups fresh fruit
¼ cup mascarpone cheese, lightly sweetened cream cheese, or lightly sweetened goat cheese, whipped lightly with a generous drop of pure vanilla extract, or, if you are planning on not going the creamy route, 2 to 3 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out pie crust. Fit crust into a 10-inch tart pan. Line with foil, then pour pie weights into foil. Bake crust for 20 minutes with pie weights, then 10 to 15 more minutes without pie weights, until the crust is golden brown.
While crust is cooling, prepare fruit by cutting off stems, taking out pits, or slicing into pieces—whatever your fruit requires in order to be easily eaten while in a tart. If you area going to make a simple glaze for the fruit, puree a few berries or a few slices of fruit with a bit of water, add a pinch of sugar, and heat in a small saucepan set over medium heat until the glaze looks smooth-ish and shiny, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Spread your creamy cheese or melted chocolate onto the floor of the tart shell. Top with prepared fruit. Brush with glaze, if using. Pat yourself on the back. You just became a dessert hero.