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Lots of frozen raspberries must mean it’s time for… tart.

August 14, 2011
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille...

When I tried to get something out of the freezer earlier this week and almost caused an avalanche I decided it was time for a freezer clean-out and reorg.  In doing so, I discovered I had 6 bags of frozen raspberries.  What?!  Seeing as how freezer space is valuable real estate, I immediately began thinking how I could use up this abundance.  Most recipes I came across either wanted fresh raspberries, or required such a tiny amount of berries (1/2 cup was average) that they weren’t going to do much to reduce my overflow.  Now some people would be content to just get a few containers of yogurt and have smoothies for a week.  But not me.  I was determined to bake something that would be a treat and use up raspberries at the same time.  So I thought “oh!  a tart with a raspberry filling!” and began looking for a recipe for said item.  Would you believe I could not find one single recipe for a berry tart with a jam-like filling made from whole berries?  Not one!  Plus, 9 out of 10 recipes had crusts that were so fussy that it just didn’t seem worth it to spend that much time in the kitchen and do that many dishes for something that was originally calculated to free up freezer space.

So instead I rolled up my sleeves, put on my game face, and began to get creative.  Using a loose adaptation of: a recipe for raspberry cake filling, a super-easy tart crust recipe pulled from Epicurious, and method and presentation from Smitten Kitchen, I made a what promises to be a very tasty tart.  Oh, and it was very easy.  Maybe not as easy as just using jam (which is apparently pretty popular) but better, in my opinion, for several reasons.  First, because this started with whole fruit, I can pretend it is healthier.  Second, it allowed me to control the sweetness of the filling, which I dialed down from your normal jam sweet.  Third, and I may be the only person here, I don’t strain my raspberries.  I like the seeds.  So doing it myself allows me to keep those in there, since almost all jams are seedless.  So, here you are: my easy-not-jam-raspberry tart.

Raspberry Tart

Crust: (these measurements are weird because I used an existing tart ingredient list but wanted half-again as much.  But it worked out perfect for my 9-inch pan.)

  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups frozen (or fresh would be fine, if you have those you need to use up) raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (you could use more here if you like it more sweet, but I’d taste it first)
  • a scant 3 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in an equal amount of cold water
Melt the butter and mix in the sugar and vanilla.  Whisk in your flour until incorporated and smooth.  The batter will be too stiff to really whisk when it is mixed well.  Section your batter into thirds and set aside 1/3 for the top crust (it would be helpful if you roll this 1/3 of your dough into a log, like a fat cigar, which I did not do, but you’ll see why this is helpful in a bit). Press the remaining batter into a 9-inch tart or springform pan, pressing up the sides 3/4 of an inch or so if in a springform pan.
Cover both the tart pan and the remaining dough and chill for at least one hour.  This is, in fact, a key to tart success. I have eschewed dough-chilling for so long because it just takes time, and advance planning, and patience – all of which I am often short on – and I just skip it.  But, it is actually an important step because the chilling allows the gluten in the crust to relax, which keeps it from shrinking and makes it more tender.  And starting with a dough that has melted butter which makes the dough so much easier to make, it seemed a small concession (I also chilled it for 6 hours because I had to go somewhere, so that is just what happened, but one hour is plenty).
For your filling, put the berries and sugar in a good pan over medium heat and cook until bubbling and cook for 10 minutes or so to reduce the volume a bit and break down the berries.  When your berries are broken down and it is a sauce, add in cornstarch slurry and stir to incorporate.  Continue cooking until thick enough to run slowly off the spoon (don’t get it too thick, it still has to bake, remember), 3-5 minutes or so, and then allow to cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 375°F.  Take tart crust out of the fridge and pour most of the filling into it.  Depending on how much filling you like and how deep your pan is, you may not need it all (I had about 1/2c. left over).  Then take your remaining dough and cut into small disks. I did this from a ball, and so I cut the ball into half and then sliced thinly.  If I had thought ahead I would have rolled the dough into a log, and then would have had actual circles.  But whatever.  Lay on top of the filling in cocentric circles, touching but not overlapping.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top crust is brown.  Result is this:
I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille... 
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