You’ll love these light mini fresh fruit tarts that are simple to bake as an alternative to the heavy holiday food, when you can’t take another bit of chocolate. This is 3 simple from scratch recipes that start with one-bite tarts shells, which are filled with French pastry cream and topped off a fresh raspberry glaze. Make a bunch ahead during your holiday baking frenzy and pop in the freezer for when you need a sweet, but light, holiday treat.
We are lightening things up today with a fresh fruit dessert recipe that is always a staple in my house around the holiday. (And these tarts are extra cute, because they’re one-bite!) I know everyone thinks cookies and cakes for the holidays, but when things get really heavy – and they always do – I tend to reach for one of my fruit tarts. They are the perfect touch of sweet, smooth and tangy amidst all the holiday chocolate.
I don’t need to remind you that the holidays are filled with heavy foods, lots of cocktails, sweet desserts and candy. Some holiday desserts are store bought, some shipped to your door, delivered by your neighbor or made with love in the warmth of your kitchen.
No matter how the treats got there, our kitchens and bellies are full during the holidays! Right around this time in the season, I am craving lighter, fruity sweets and these individual fruit tarts over chocolate and rich desserts.
In today’s post, this is a three-recipes-in one post! I’m going to share with you a recipe that’s been in my family for years – a classic fresh fruit tart. It will be three different recipes that you can use over and over again. One recipe for the individual tart shells, which you’ll bake first, and then one recipe for the French pastry cream filling that goes inside the baked shells. Lastly, if you want to make that classic fruit glaze topping for the mini tarts, I’ll share with you my simple fruit glaze recipe.
This from scratch recipe is broken into 7 different sections:
- Perfect One-Bite Desserts
- The Freezer Is Your Friend
- Make Your Shells
- Make Your Filling
- Pro Tips For Pastry Cream
- The Secrets To Fruit Tarts That Shine
- Make Your Glaze Topping
This is the perfect alternative dessert during the holidays. It’s the only tart shell recipe you’ll ever need, filled with a classic French pastry cream and topped off with fresh fruit.
Perfect One-Bite Desserts
You know I love the classics desserts around here, but these are classic with a twist, because they are individual tarts. It’s a one-bite dessert, which is perfect for the holidays. If you’re entertaining, they look great on a dessert buffet. (Try adding my pecan pie tassies to your buffet too.)
Guests at a party love the one-bite, individual desserts too, because they don’t need a plate or utensils. They can just pop ’em in their mouth and keep on mingling. We’ve all walked by the dessert display and grabbed a few treats while walking by – admit it!
These tarts are also great for a holiday cookie swap too. Most people in a cookie swap bake sugar cut out cookies and chocolate. (Unless you’re me and I like to bring the Southern cheese straws to the cookie exchange!)
But, trust me, these little fruit tarts filled with cream will stand out at the cookie exchange and everyone will appreciate the change of flavor. They are bright, fresh and perfect for a cookie swap!
The Freezer Is Your Friend
This tart shell dough is simple to make. The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for 5 days or frozen for 2 months, which is what you need during the holidays. I always make the effort in the fall to make extra batches of this dough, so that I have it on-hand for the holidays.
You can also freeze the fully baked and cooled fruit tarts. Make the tarts head of time in your holiday baking frenzy and toss them in the freezer for when you simply cannot eat one more bite of chocolate. (Is that just me who completely over does the chocolate during the holidays??)
You’ll want to save this tart shell recipe too, because it is great for making mini pies or filling with other cooked fillings, like a quiche. Try my tart cherry pie filling inside these mini tart shells – yum! Don’t save it for just these fruit tarts when it can do so much more!!
If you want a larger pie crust recipe, and not the mini tart shells we’re making here, click on over and get my perfect butter pie crust from scratch recipe.
Make Your Shells
Before you make the cream filling for these tarts, you’ll need to get started baking the individual tart shells….Print
- Into a large bowl, cut cold butter into flour, sugar, and salt, using a pastry blender.
- Sprinkle vanilla extract and cold water over the flour mixture.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead to form a ball.
- Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Dough should be well chilled before rolling.
- Divide dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, roll very thin, about ¼ “ in thickness. Can roll dough thicker if you prefer.
- Cut dough with a biscuit cutter or any round cutter to desired size.
- Place cut dough into a mini muffin (or any size muffin tin you are using.)
- Use a knife to trim the top of the dough. Prick with fork tines and bake for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 325°F oven.
- Use a good quality of butter as it is the star of the show!
- These tart shells are good with so many different fillings. I like to add fresh raspberries that have a bit of sweet glaze on them. They also make wonderful mini pies shells for cooked fillings.
Make Your Filling
Once you make your individual tart shells, you’ll need to make the French pastry cream that will get piped or spooned into the middle of each shell.
A gift from the French, pastry cream is rich custard. It’s easy to make from scratch. It’s the traditional filling for cream puffs and makes a delicious cake filling, too. (You know how I love to fill my cake layers!)
Traditional French pastry cream is made milk, egg yolks, cornstarch (to thicken the cream) and sugar. Sometimes I like to add a vanilla bean to the cream.
Pro Tips for Pastry Cream
You know I couldn’t leave you with out a few baking secrets and tips for making your pastry cream perfect. I’ve spent so many hours in the kitchen with my wedding cake business that I’ve been through it all and tried all the techniques. I’ve done the dishes to prove it!
First up is lumps. No one wants a lumpy pastry cream. Plus the fruit tarts are so small, so you can’t afford anything but a smooth cream for the filling. If you have lumps in your warm pastry cream, strain it before putting it in the bowl.
Prevent the skin on the top of the pastry cream. Be sure to cover the top of cream with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming in the first place.
Keep it cold! Your cornstarch must be dissolved in a cold liquid in order for it to work to properly thicken your cream. Also, make sure that you use cold egg yolks for the best results. With 20+ years as a professional baker, trust me on this one!
Also, you must use whole milk for the pastry cream. If you try to substitute a low fat or skim milk, you won’t get the same results. French pastry cream really needs the fat in the milk to set properly.
I say this with all of my dessert recipes, but it is really true for this pastry cream. Make sure that you use the best possible ingredients that you can find when you’re baking anything. There are so few ingredients in this French pastry cream, so you want to make sure they are all the best.Print
- In a medium saucepan (heavy saucepan is best) over medium low heat, add milk. Let cook for a couple of minutes to warm the milk. DO NOT boil the milk.
- While milk is warming, in a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, corn starch, salt and sugar. Whisk for 2 minutes until the mix is light in color.
- Once milk is warm, slowly add a small amount to egg mixture whisking continuously. Add all of the milk and whisk to combine.
- Add mixture back to the pot and cook over medium heat, whisking continuously for 2 minutes. Mixture will thicken. Once it “burps” and bubbles appear on the surface remove from heat.
- Add cold butter and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Pour pastry cream into a heat proof bowl and cover with saran wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
- If you have lumps in your warm pastry cream, strain it before putting it in the bowl.
- Be sure to cover the top of cream with saran wrap to prevent skin from forming.
- Cornstarch must be dissolved in a cold liquid in order to work. Use cold egg yolks for best results.
- Vanilla beans make a nice addition to the pastry cream.
- Keep refrigerated for up to three days.
- Use whole milk, substituting a low fat milk will not yield the same results.
- If using salted butter, omit salt.
Once you make your tart shells and your pastry cream, you’ll want to top off the tarts with a fresh fruit topping. You can use fresh fruit as is and just drop it right into the pastry cream. You could drop a blueberry or two, sliced strawberries, kiwi slices, or a raspberry on the top of the cream. It would be perfection with a fresh fruit topper.
Or, you can make a fruit glaze to take your tarts to the next level.
But how do you get your fruit tarts to look so shiny and perfect? Have you every spotted a fruit tart on the tray and it is glistening and just looks so temping, sitting there all perfect?
The Secret to Fruit Tarts That Shine
The secret to a fruit tart that shines on the plate, almost inviting you to eat it, is the glaze. The glaze gives the fruit topping for a tart a nice coating for that perfect shine and it helps to hold the fruit in place once it sets up.
Here is my tried-and-true recipe for how to make a fruit glaze from scratch. I used raspberries for my fruit toping for the mini tarts, but you could use just about any fresh fruit that you want. Blueberries, strawberries…so many options.
If you’re going to use a different fruit to top your tarts, in the recipe below, just substitute the preserves for the type of fruit you’re using. I used raspberries, so I used a raspberry preserve.
Make Your Glaze Topping
Once you make the fruit glaze, you can toss it with some fresh fruit to really take your tarts over the top. I made the raspberry glaze and then tossed it with fresh raspberries before I topped the tarts.Print
This raspberry glaze is quick, easy and perfect for giving fresh raspberries a delicious shiny glaze.
- In a small saucepan, empty the contents of raspberry preserves. Add water.
- Bring to a slight boil, stirring continuously to incorporate the water.
- Once the mixture has thinned slightly, strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. If using seed free preserves, omit this step.
- Allow mixture to cool before using.
- Any leftover glaze should be returned to the refrigerate. Reheat to use again.
- Will keep in refrigerator for 2 weeks.
- This glaze is great to toss raspberries in and fill with miniature pastry cups.
- Other fruit can be substituted for raspberries.
- The glaze can be applied to fruit with a pastry brush, too
These fruit tarts filled with a classic French pastry cream are perfect little touch of sweet during the holidays, if you ask me! I hope that you love these recipes and it becomes a staple in your house during the holidays, just like mine.
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Did You Make Minette’s Recipe?
What do you think? Aren’t these fruit tarts the perfect one-bite holiday dessert? Did you make them?
Please leave a comment and a recipe rating. I’d love to hear from you. And if you have any baking questions, leave those in the comments too.