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.

Pastry Dough
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.

Pastry Cream
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.

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11 comments

  • July 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm //

    Looks like we were in a similar dessert mood on the weekend. These are beautiful and so seasonal. Lovely

    • July 27, 2011 at 7:16 am //

      That is so true! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Thank you so much for commenting!

  • July 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm //

    What great hints! These tarts turned out absolutely beautiful.

    • July 27, 2011 at 7:15 am //

      Hello Deborah, thank you so much, and thank you for commenting = )

  • July 27, 2011 at 9:08 am //

    Such pretty pics, so vibrant! Love the tips and love your logo too!

    • July 27, 2011 at 10:32 am //

      Hello Heidi! Thank you, we had so much fun coming up with the logo, it’s wonderful that you noticed it, that makes me very happy. Thank you for commenting.

  • August 7, 2011 at 11:02 am //

    thank you so much for commenting on my blog! because you did, I found your blog…and I’m very happy about that :)
    what gorgeous pictures…these tarts look amazing!

    • August 8, 2011 at 5:29 pm //

      Hello Kate, and thank you for coming by to say hello, I’m adding you to my blogroll, I can’t wait to see what you’ve posted next.

  • August 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm //

    These tarts are gorgeous! I ended up in a similar spot this weekend: called to make a dessert for a party at the last minute *and* it had to be something that I could transport. And they told me no chocolate. That removed the basic tarts and choc chip cookies! So… we had cinnamon rolls. :)

    • August 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm //

      They are, I think so too, I’ll have to tell Camille, I’ve been had many last minute situations myself, transporting is another story all together, I think tarts can hold up pretty well, cinnamon rolls are a true comfort dessert, everyone loves them, I bet they were a sure hit.

      Marie

  • August 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm //

    Anna Posted on Wish I could have gone with you guys. I always want to look back at Hunter and then I alsmot fall over. Typical me LOVE these pictures of the ride.