Unbelievably good and satisfying–and you wouldn’t believe how easy they are to make.  Well, let me take a step back–“easy” refers to if you’re smart enough to buy puff pastry sheets from the frozen foods area at your local grocery store.  I, being the dreamer that I am, thought it would be a “great” idea to make my own puff pastry sheets.  Major no-no, especially since it was done for a huge catering gig where I had a very limited amount of time.  I will say, that the homemade puff pastry, was wonderfully buttery and flaky. By no means does frozen puff pastry compare.  I will be honest though–when weighing the pros and cons, I can confidently say that I will be buying puff pastry the next time I make this dessert (which will be very very soon!).  There really is no reason to put yourself thru that much work.  If you’re a puff pastry purist and you JUST HAVE to make your puff pastry from scratch, I can definitely vouch for Emeril Lagasse’s recipe that can be found here.  But for those of you who are just looking to make a wonderfully fresh and simple dessert, I’d buy the puff pastry.  You bet I wish I had!

Anyhow, like I discussed in my previous post, I decided to make these since my boss stated that his wife isn’t big on cake.  We were going to make a really light vanilla cake loaded with tons and tons of  fruit.  But I was in Westminster and stopped by a Vietnamese Bakery (Yes, it was Van’s)–and a light bulb went off.  Go to a large Vietnamese gathering and you’ll likely find this dessert there.  It’s always been one of my favorites, so I thought it would be a great idea.  Catch?  I’ve never made anything like this before.  But I was certain with some research and determination, I’d be able to pull it off.  After I got the go-ahead,  I found a handful of recipes to work with.

And well…these things couldn’t be more beautiful.  It’s a wonderfully versatile recipe as well–use it with different fruit combinations, create different fruit based glazes , or heck turn them into fruit pockets.  The possibilities are limitless.

Oh! Save yourself some grief–and make the custard the day before.  You want the custard to be cold/cool when you place it on the puff pastry so that it doesn’t get all soggy.

Mini Fresh Fruit Tarts

1 package puff pastry, thawed (I recommend Pepperidge Farm)
1 egg + 1 tbsn. water, beaten (egg wash)
1 bow of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 box of blueberries, washed
1 box of blackberries, washed
1 bow of raspberries, washed
1 ripe mango, diced.
For the Custard:

1 cup whole milk (if you’re brave and want to step it up a bit, use heavy cream–makes the custard oh-so-rich. I mean, Jay Z rich.)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (or use a 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pinch salt

To make the custard:

  1. Place the milk, half the sugar and the vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Combine the egg yolks and the remaining sugar in a bowl and whisk until light in color. Add in the flour and the salt, mix to combine.
  3. When the milk just begins to boil, remove from heat and remove vanilla bean. Very slowly stream the hot milk mixture  into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. When about half of the milk has been added, place all of the yolk mixture into the saucepan over medium heat. Using a spatula or a whisk, mix the pastry cream as it heats.  Make sure to thoroughly whisk mixture completely–scraping down the sides of the pan.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken.
  5. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stirring constantly should give you a very smooth cream. If you are unsatisfied with the consistency, strain to remove any lumps.
  6. Place into a bowl, and cover.  Make sure the drop the saran wrap all the way down to the surface of the pastry cream.  This will prevent a skin from forming.
  7. Let cool and refrigerate.
Fruit Tart Preparations:
  1. Defrost Puff Pastry as directed on package.  Remove and unfold sheets onto a lightly floured surface.
  2. Use a knife and cut each sheet into 9 evenly sized squares (each package comes with 2 sheets, so you should have a total of 18).  Take a fork and prick holes all over each square, taking care not to rip the sheets.
  3. Place the squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I use my Silpat liner.  I love that thing more than I can ever say!) .
  4. Brush each square with the egg wash.  Bake until each one puffs up to a golden brown (directions should be on package).
  5. To assemble, spread about 2 tablespoons or so of custard onto each pastry and top with the fruit.  Dust with powder sugar when ready to serve.  Enjoy!