Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heart Tarts

Have you ever seen the movie or read the book Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel?

If not, you should. The overall premise of the book is that what you feel goes right into the things you cook and or bake. There are even recipes at the beginning of each section based on emotions.

The main charcter Tita falls in love with her neighbor Pedro, but is forced to never marry and stay with her mother as a care taker. In an awful turn of events Pedro marries Tita's sister Rosaura. Tita cries uncontrollably while baking Pedro and Rosaura's wedding cake in utter dispair. When its time for the guests to eat the cake they all begin crying uncontrollably, they feel the saddness and heart break that went into baking the cake.

I may have spoiled some of the book or intrigued some people to read it. I hope its the later.

I love the idea that emotions pour into food that we make. If an artist is expressing their emotions through paint and canvas and are suppose to move us, than a baker expresses emotion through food and should get a reaction as well, right?

We all have comfort foods and go to foods when we feel less than happy. Chocolate anyone? And we all have foods we enjoy more when we are happy, like salads, salads actually taste better when you're in a good mood. I mean really who eats salads when they are sad?

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind for me, change is in the air my friends and dealing with all that is going on around me has lead to some tedious baking. Heart felt but tedious.

So what better to bake when feeling overwhelmed and all over the place? Something that equally overwhelms me and sends me all over the place.

Tart crust sends me over the edge with all its rules and specifics. Pastry cream makes me cringe with the tempering needed not to scramble the eggs. But the fruit design on top helps calm my nerves, so naturally I decided to go for it.

The pastry cream and I had a battle indeed. There was some egg scrambling and some unsavory words but I salvaged the mixture by straining it so all the scrambled egg disappeared.

I was bold and attempted a new crust recipe. It was fairly simple to make but the recipe didn't fit into my 10 inch tart pan so I settled with little 6 inch tarts.

Foiled them up so as to keep the crust from puffing up too much.

Then got to work on the fruit. I bought a lot of fruit under the impression that I would be making a 10 inch tart i.e. 5 kiwi, 2 boxes of strawberries, a peach, and a can of mandarin oranges. In the end I only needed 1/4 of the fruit.

The crust didn't's a miracle. However, I still don't understand my oven and so the edges of the tart got a little dark and the tin foil stuck to the dough and left the middle looking like craters in the moon.

But luckily the salvaged pastry cream covered the craters. Save!

Then I finally sat down and let my creative side take over. I artfully placed the fruit exactly how I learned it at the bakery I apprenticed for. Rows of strawberries cut in half with a mandarin orange inbetween, a fan of kiwi slices and a peach in the center.

At that point, 3 hours into the baking, I was not about to make a glaze. So I brushed the tops with agave syrup and called it a day.

After all of it, I didn't even eat one. I wrapped them up and put them away. I put everything I had that day into the tarts and had no interest indulging in one. It was more about the journey than the destination I guess. Who knows maybe someone can tell the emotions I felt when they eat these tarts but overall I'm hoping all the sweat and tears were overshadowed by the heart that went into their creation.

Tart Crust:
~from the Joy of Baking

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1 stick plus 1 Tablespoon butter frozen

1 large egg yolk


Add flour and sugar to a food processor and blend until combined. Then chop butter into small pieces and add to the food processor until the butter looks pea sized. Add the egg yolk and pulse for 10 seconds at a time until it comes together.

Press the dough into a greased 9 inch tart pan or 4 4inch tart pans.

Butter or spray small pieces of aluminum foil and place in the middle of that tart, allowing the sides to remain uncovered. Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven and remove the foil. Bake for 5 more minutes and let them cool.

Pastry Cream:
~from the Joy of Baking

1 1/4 cups milk (whole or 2%)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch


Add milk and vanilla in a saucepan and put on low heat.

Meanwhile in a bowl add egg yolks and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour and cornstarch and stir until combined and smooth.

Once the milk is getting a bit frothy take off the heat. Add half the milk to the egg mixture whisking constantly so as to not scramble the eggs. Then add the rest of the milk to the egg mixture and whisk. Pour the liquid back into the sauce pan and put on low heat. Whisk constantly (Seriously, constantly) until it gets nice and thick.

Take the cream off the heat and keep whisking. To ensure you don't have any scrambled egg put the mixture through a food mill or a strainer.

Put in the refrigerator for 2 hours.


Put cold pastry cream into a pastry bag and pipe into the cooled tart shells.

Top the cream with cut up fruit of your choice in the design of your choice.

If you like glaze on top, you can brush the fruit with agave syrup or in a saucepan add 2 teaspoons of water and 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and whisk until warm and smooth.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a feeling from eating something?


  1. these look amazing! esp the last picture!

  2. They were delicious and I felt quite happy after eating them!!!

  3. I think you should start a cooking school for the cooking virgins like myself. I have so much to learn, and who better to teach me than a best friend! Looks delicious as usual.

  4. They look yummy- wish I had one!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...