I love that my mother stopped asking me about the weather a month ago. My answers were fast turning into “hotter” “sticky crazy humid” “yuck”. I could complain about it until the cows come home. I try not to but sometimes it just feels good to vent it out loud. Especially if you’re in line somewhere. Then it’s instant validation that you’re not exaggerating. It really feels sticky as glue out there.
Except today. Today was one of those days you just want to hug. Like Lucy hugs the snow. I wanted to hug today. It looks cuter with a toddler than a 35 year old though. But heck, if Jen is willing to give it a go during the Food And Light Photo workshop this month, maybe we can do a little “Helen hugging the gorgeous Colorado” weather photo shoot. Nah….it still is not as endearing as little Lu.
You could think that now would be the time we only eat ice cream or frozen treats. And we do. Some. Not only and not always. The only things keeping us cool are the shades and a quick dip into the ocean. As far as desserts go, we don’t really change our eating habits that much beside more salads instead of cooked vegetables and more sorbets than usual. Honeydew and peach sorbets are currently “curing” in the freezer actually.
With B’s college friends visiting these past few days I made sure that we had plenty of food to put on the grill, cold drinks to be mixed and lots of homemade ice cream to dig our spoons into. Turns out, the first thing they asked me to make was some tartelettes. Go figure. They’ve known my nickname upon ten minutes of meeting me 10 years ago.
We are extremely lucky to have bushes upon bushes of wild blackberries in the neighborhood and I seem to be the only one interested in picking them. One morning, I took my sweet time and picked about three cups worth. We ate some with creme fraiche one morning, they were sweet and juicy but remembering all the scratches I got and spiders I met on my picking expedition, I decided to freeze the precious blackberry loot.
Dear friends call for uncorking the bubbly, busting out the pretty plates and using said precious berries in simple and fragrant tartelettes.
This is pretty much my go-to recipe for fresh fruit tarts. The dough is really easy to come together and is sturdy enough to give just the right amount of crunch. I chose a mix of blackberries and raspberries from the market but you could make these with any fruit that is in season. The trick, what sets them apart, comes from the 20 minutes that the fruit spends marinating in a fragrant herb sugar.
Yep. That’s my little secret: I simply rub some sugar with one of the herbs growing in the garden for a minute and let the fruit steep in it. If it’s just us, I won’t remove the herbs at all but for guests, I’ll usually strain the sugar before sprinkling it on the berries. Right now I am on a lemon thyme or lemon balm kick but mint, lemon verbana, chamomille work quite well.
Such a simple thing to do and yet it takes the tarts from good to intriguing. Like adding another layer of goodness. One simple step. I hope you will give it a try and let your imagination or your garden lead you to discover new flavor combinations.
Fresh Berries Tartelettes:
Makes four to six 4-inch tarts
Notes: if you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.
I use this flour combination the most because 1/ these are the least expensive gluten free flours out there and like most of us who bake a lot, I have to pay a close eye on the budget and 2/ because their flavors combined are mild enough that non gluten free folks are not taken aback by the taste or the texture.
If you choose to make one 9-inch tart with this, you might want to double up on the berries and add more sugar to taste.
I used a combination of butter and leaf lard (more info on this here) but feel free to use all butter or half shortening – half butter which keeps the crust nice and flaky. Lard also has less saturated fat than butter.
For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used half butter and half leaf lard I got at the market this time)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold milk
For the filling:
1 pint blackberries
1 pint raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 chopped tablespoon lemon thyme (or your favorite herb)
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add enough milk to moisten it. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10-15 minutes until almost completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 3 days before using. Roll some extra dough to form lattice pattern on top if desired. You can also freeze the extra raw dough for up to three months.
For the filling:
Place the berries in a non reactive bowl. Rub the sugar and thyme together and sprinkle over the fruit. Gently mix with a spatula. Let the fruit marinate for about 20 minutes.
Divide the berries among the tart shells, top with lattice if desired and bake 20 minutes. Let the tarts cool completely before eating. Depending on the water content in the fruits, some may release more juice than others so be aware when you eat…it might drip.
Tartelettes Aux Fruits Rouges:
Pour 4 a 6 tartelettes
Pour la pate:
70gr beurre mou, non sale (j’ai utilise moitie beurre et moitie panne)
3 jaunes d’oeuf
pincee de sel
80gr farine de riz
60gr farine de millet
30gr farine de sorghum
40gr de maizena
(ou de 210gr de farine blanche)
1/2 cc de gomme de xanthan
2 a 4 cc de lait
Pour la garniture:
215 gr de mures
215 gr de framboises
100 gr de sucre
1 cc de thym citron
Preparer la pate:
Dans le bol d’un mixer, battez le beurre pendant 1 minute. Ajoutez les jaunes d’oeufs un a un, tout en melangeant bien apres chaque jaune. Ajoutez le sel et les farines sans gluten, le sel et la gomme de xantham. Ajoutez assez de lait pour humidifier la pate. Melangez brievement et verzes le contenu sur un plan de travail. Ramassez en boule et metter au refrigerateur pendant une heure.
Prechauffez le four a 180C et positionnez une plaque au milieu.
Etalez la pate sur un plan de travail legerement farine (farine sans gluten de preference), ou entre deux feuilles de papier sulfurise. Foncez en un plat a tarte, mettre une feuille de papier sulfurise dans le fond, et des pois/riz. Faire pre-cuire 10-15 minutes. Sortez la tarte du four et laissez refroidir. Roulez des bandes supplementaires de pate pour faire le motif du dessous si desire.
Pour la garniture:
Placer les fruits dans un bol non reactif. Melanger du bout des doigt le sucre avec le thym citron. Verser en pluie sur les fruits et melanger delicatement avec une spatule. Laizzer macerer 20 minutes.
Repartir les fruits rouges au fond des tartes, ajoutez les bandes de pate si desire et cuire 20 minutes at 180C.