just desserts: tartlets in a pinch
If you are the parent of a competitive swimmer then you understand how an entire 3 days can be consumed by a swim meet. This past weekend a friend had a small dinner party. I wanted to go because I knew it would be relaxing and the food would be delicious, but the expectation from the hostess as well as guests was that I was to bring dessert. I love the opportunity to bake for a small gathering and not just my family. However, on a swim meet weekend this can be a problem. How can it be done without losing vast hours of sleep?
Here are my tips on baking in a pinch:
1. Whenever you make a pie, tart, cookie or any freezable dough double the recipe and freeze the portion you do not use immediately. (Don’t forget to label the dough to be frozen!)
2. You might have to get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later, but budget your time. Allow a few days to make the components of your dessert.
3. Last, but not least, choose something simple. Choose something seasonal.
I was able to pull off these tartlets in a very small amount of time due to those tips. First, I looked in my freezer and found a few varieties of dough. I chose a short dough which was one I actually made at the end of April for an Easter tart.
The day before the party I made the tartlet shells using my 3×3 spring pans. I chose these because they were the perfect size for the amount of dough I had and that was a respectable dessert serving size. After making the shells, I left them to cool and went to the swim meet. When I returned home, that evening, I made the pastry cream, I which I put in the fridge to chill overnight.
The next day I was able to go to the meet knowing that I had all the components of the tartlets ready to go. I typically wash any berries right before I am to use them so all I had to do to prepare the tartlets was wash and pat the berries dry, spoon the pastry cream into the shells and decorate with berries. I quickly made a glaze and a dessert that looks like it took many hours was created without stress.
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, sugar and salt into a food processor or mixing bowl. Mix to incorporate. Add the butter. Mix until the dough is coarse. Add the egg and egg yolk. Mix to combine. Form the dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more.
Hint: Do not overwork the dough, causing the butter to melt into the flour. The chilled butter is what makes a flakey crust.
For the pastry cream I use the recipe provided by Martha Stewart. It is my go to recipe. Please click here for the recipe: pastry cream recipe.
Berries and Glaze
Use whatever fresh fruit is available in your local farmers market.
For the glaze you can use an apricot jam, warmed and strained, as suggested by Martha Stewart. Or you can make thick simple syrup. You can also choose to not add a glaze, but there are two reasons why I choose to do so: (a) it looks pretty …really do we need another reason? (b) The chilled glaze helps to keep the berries in place.