Saturday, December 19, 2009
Challenge and Adventure: Fruit Tarts
Your other poster, Helen, decided that she want fruit tarts because the kids in Harry Potter were eating tarts. So she presented to me a challenge to make some tarts. Any kind of tart. I don't know anything about tarts. I consulted my friends for ideas. I found an apple tartelette recipe with ricotta cheese and no crust. However, Brendan, decided that it was too easy and he challenged me to make "traditional tarts" with crust. I'm afraid of crust. Very afraid. However, I accepted the challenge because, the hell with it, the worst that could happen is a batch of terrible tarts in the trash. Because my sister loves raspberries, I decided to make berry tarts. So this one is for you: Helen, Brendan, Baotran.
The making of this dessert also included an adventure for me. Please bear with me...
Now, imagine that you're a 26 year old girl/woman/young lady. You woke up one morning and left for work while it was still dark out. You turned on your car and discovered that the driver side headlight is busted. You groaned and moaned because you know by the time you get back from work, it'll be dark as hell and driving around with one headlight is not a good idea.
You called up the shops, you checked the internet forum and found out that it'll cost roughly $200 for them to change the headlight. You said: I ain't paying $200! You called up Kragen and found out that the light only costs $13.56 including tax. You then had your dad and sister email you scans of the manual because for some strange reasons, the manual of your car is in a different city. You said to yourself that you can do it, even when all of the forums on the internet said that it took them at least 1 hour to do it.
You thought you were smart. In fact, you were pretty cocky. You knew you were smart, smart enough to not spend $200 for a light bulb change (insert jokes about how many smart 26-year-olds it takes to change a light bulb here).
Because you thought you were smart, you decided to go home and took your sweet ass time to eat dinner and make fruit tarts. You knew that there was a step where you have to freeze the dough for at least 30 minutes so you planned to change the light bulb during this time.
You found a sweet tart crust recipes from Dorie Greenspan. So you measured out 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour.
Then you poured out 1/2 cup of powder sugar or confectioner's sugar and added it to the flour bowl. Your sugar box said "Confectioner's powdered sugar," so you know for sure that it was the right one. You also found your fancy measuring spoons and added 1/4 teaspoon salt to the sugar and flour mixture. Some directions told you to pulse the mixture in a food processor to mix well. What do you know? You don't have a food processor (you do, it's just that it's the size of a shot glass). Therefore, you were stuck mixing it with a fork to work out your arm.
You were glad to be able to use your butter while it was cold (1 stick and 1 tablespoon to be exact). After cubing the butter, you decided that it was high time to stack them up and make skyscrapers out of them.
The butter chunks, bless their little hearts, where thrown like bombs to be scattered all over the flour and sugar mixture.
Again, due to the lack of a food processor, you were forced to work the butter into the flour mixture with a fork. You wanted to look like those bakers at the shop with giant muscular arms. When the flour and butter mixture looked like coarse oatmeal, you finally got to rest your arm.
A quick recipe check told you to find a yolk of one large egg. Well, you have never liked to waste food and have no idea what to do with one white of an egg, so you decided to use the whole egg. You patted yourself on the back for respecting the whole egg instead of wasting the egg white. All the while, you stopped and admired your glittery blue nail polish.
The arm had to go back to work to mix the flour/butter mixture in the egg. It took a whole 10 minutes long to get all of the dry ingredients to incorporate with the egg. You were surprised at how one egg was able to turn the flour into a goopy mess.
The goopy mess was divided into 12 even balls.
You found some small pieces of left over butter and greased the beejesuz out of a muffin pan because you wanted your friends to have manageable tarts.
Each of the dough ball were flattened into little disks about 3.5" in diameter.
You placed each dough disk into a muffin slot and stuffed the whole pan into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
This was the part where you thought you were so smart. You packed a camping lantern (because you are lame and your garage does not have a light in it), a flashlight, your newly bought head light, and a small cosmetic mirror (because you were told that it's hella hard to see anything behind the light). So you unscrewed, pulled, struggled, cussed, yanked, etc. You cussed like a drunken sailor at Toyota engineer team while you wedged your tiny tiny hands into the tiny tiny space behind the light housing. Even though your hands are the size of a 10-year-old girl, you could only wedge your hands in one at time. After 1 hour and 45 minutes of crouching over the engine, sweating, cussing, and contorting your hands to all sort of shapes, you succeeded. It did not matter that your hands are all banged up and that your nail polishes are chipped. The result was glorious! You headed back to your kitchen and dealt with the rest of the tart.
The freezing dough were brought out and set in the oven at 375 degrees to hang out for 25 minutes. But first, you had to cut out small pieces of foil, grease them and press them grease-side down on your dough.
The recipe told you to rebake the dough without the foil for another 8 minutes, but your crusts looked a bit burnt so you did not follow through here.
You set 2 cups of whole milk in a small sauce pan and set it to boil. While the milk is boiling, you whisked 6 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1/3 cup of corn starch in another pan.
Because you got too happy whisking the eggs and sugar (another arm workout moment), you forgot about the milk and it boiled over a bit. Stupid milk, always boiling over. By now you were all cussed out, so you silently poured 1/4 of the milk into the eggs and sugar mixture while whisking. You want to do this slowly so that the heat from the hot milk wouldn't turn your egg mixture into scramble eggs fast. When you egg mixture was relatively warm, you poured in the rest of the milk while whisking "vigorously." So much whisking!
By now, the mixture was thick enough that it was hard to whisk so energetically. Still whisking away, the heat was turned up to medium so that the mixture can come to a boil. When will the whisking stop??? you asked.
When the mixture reached the boiling point, you took it out and pressed it through a sieve so what was left was a creamy rather than chunky mixture. Then you stirred in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Time to let your arm and the cream have a 5 minute breather. Phew phew phew.
Cut another 3 1/2 tablespoons of soften butter into small chunks. Then you did the "w" word again. You heard that right. You had to whisk the butter into the cream mixture. Good thing it only lasted for about 1 minute.
Very carefully, you spooned the cream filling into the baked crust. One, two, three, four...
That was the point that you got really irritated from all of the whisking and the banged up hands from the headlight adventure. As you spooned the cream filling (five, six, seven), you mumbled: Stupid friends and their stupid challenges...making stupid tarts from scratch...the "traditional" way...
Eight, nine, ten. But then you remembered that these friends were the one who helped you with your homework. They stayed up until the wee early hours to study with you. They drove you to get food at some ungodly hours because you did not have a car and would have starved. Eleven, twelve.
They are the friends and sister who listened to your rambling. They accepted your drunken sailor language without so much as a raised eyebrow. They hung out with you, laughed at your lame jokes, poked fun at you because they knew you wouldn't be mad.
When all of the crust bowls were filled up, you washed and dried the raspberries and blackberries that you bought at the hippie store. They were "organic." You placed them on the cream fillings now with care and a softened heart. Hooray for friends and family whose faces instantly go to a smile when they see you.
Here's to family and friends!
Here's to accepting a challenge and following through with it.
Here's to NOT paying $200 to change a damn light bulb.