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Fruit tarts are delicious, open-top pies that can be made with nearly any type of fruit. Typically baked in a fluted tart pan, these tasty treats can also be hand folded or made in a regular pie pan. Some basic tips for making fruit tarts can help prevent easy mistakes and take normal tarts to a new level of flavor.
Choosing fruit for fruit tarts may be all about seasonal flavor. Tarts generally taste best when made with ripe, fresh fruit that is at the peak of season. In spring, berry and apricot tarts will be divine, while summer brings the opportunity for fantastic plum and peach tarts. Fall and winter are the perfect time for beautiful pear, apple, and even persimmon tarts. Don't be afraid to combine a few fruits for a delicious new variety; try peaches with blackberries, strawberry with rhubarb, or blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry mashes.
Since fruit is the star player of a tart, it is important to get both the flavor and the texture correct. If fruit is very juicy, it may lead to a soggy pie. Stiffen up fruit mixtures with a small amount of cornstarch to help juices from overwhelming the crust. Remember that many fruits have a tartness that may require a little additional sugar, but be careful not to overdo it. Ideally, fruit tarts should taste like fruit, not just a bland sugary mixture.
For those planning to bake crusts from scratch, it is important to create a sturdy dough that will stand up to leaky fruit juices and other fillings. Tart doughs often have a more crumbly texture than pie crusts, which can be accomplished in several ways. Try making a graham cracker crust, or use ground nuts or nut flours to form the base of the tart dough.
Baking fruit tarts is relatively simple, but may require some careful monitoring. Many recipes call for the crust to be pre-baked to ensure that fruit does not get overdone while waiting for the crust to brown. Keeping fruit from overcooking is important, as burned fruit will ruin both the taste and the look of the tart. To make pre-baking easier, line the tart pan with pie weights or bake the crust with an additional tart pan set inside the crust, to prevent bubbling.
Fruit tarts are generally enjoyed the day they are made, but should usually be served only slightly warm or at room temperature. Tarts with a custard filling will need refrigeration, and are often served cold. Tarts make an excellent dessert in every season and are suitable for brunches, parties, and even fancy dinners.
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