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Berry Delicious Desserts
Cool Berry Buckles and Tarts

Blueberry Tart
by Jennifer Farmer

It's July and hot in Texas, and that makes me want cool and refreshing desserts. One of my all-time favorites is something similar to a cobbler, but different in that it has a layer of pastry underneath the fruit.

The fruit is almost sandwiched in between a cake-like layer on the bottom and a crunchy top layer, which usually contains nuts. This type of dessert is sometimes called a Buckle, though for the life of me I don't know why!

Cool Berry Buckle

For The Filling:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 6 cups assorted berries
For the Topping:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 pint Pecan ice cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8x8-inch baking dish.

To make the filling: In a bowl beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix in. Sift the flour and baking soda together, and add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk. When combined, spread the crust in the prepared dish and cover with berries.

To make the topping, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and combine until crumbly. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the berries in the baking dish. Bake the buckle in the preheated oven for 45 minutes until nicely browned. Serve with a scoop of pecan ice cream.

Tarts

Another summertime favorite is the tart. I love to use the no-roll tart crust, because it makes tart making simple.

For the No-Roll Tart Crust:

  • 1-¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 large egg
This crust is made from a dough-like mixture that stays crumbly. It is pressed into the tart pan, so you don't have to roll out the dough. This crust may be baked blind (empty) or baked with a filling.

Put the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cut the butter into 6 or 8 pieces and distribute over the ingredients. Rub in the butter, using your fingertips or a fork, until it resembles a fine powder. Do not allow mixture to become pasty. Beat the egg in a small bowl and stir into the flour mixture. The dough should remain dry and crumbly. Turn the dough into the prepared pan and distribute the crumbly mixture evenly around the bottom and sides of a tart pan, pressing in place with your floured fingertips. As you press the dough into place, it will adhere to and line the pan. Avoid pressing the dough too hard or it will become thin in places. After the pan is lined, inspect it for any thin or excessively thick places and make them even before proceeding.

Similar articles:

Easiest Chocolate Raspberry Tart Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces raspberry liqueur
For Finishing:
  • 3 half-pint baskets of fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Now that raspberries are available almost year round, they are quickly replacing strawberries in many recipes. I personally prefer them over strawberries, and recommend them to my brides all the time. They are so much prettier.

Set an oven rack at the middle level of the oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the tart shell for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden in color.

To make the chocolate filling, bring the cream up to a boil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate all at once. Shake the pan so that the chocolate is submerged and let stand for 3 minutes to melt. Add the liqueur and whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until thickened but not hardened, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally while it is chilling. Whisk the filling slightly to make it smooth enough to spread. Spread the filling evenly over the cooled tart shell. Arrange the raspberries over the chocolate filling, pressing them down lightly. To unmold the tart, stand the tart pan on a large can or canister and let the side (outer ring) fall away. Slide the tart from the pan bottom onto a large, flat bottomed platter. Immediately before serving, dust the berries with confectioners' sugar. Dust the center of the tart sparingly with cocoa, on top of the sugar. Serve within a few hours of assembling, but do not refrigerate or both the filling and the crust will harden.

Classic Strawberry Tart

Pastry cream:
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze:
  • 1 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch
Finishing:
  • 2 to 3 pints strawberries
  • ½ cup toasted sliced almonds
  • Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
Prepare and chill the dough for the No-Roll Tart Crust.

To make the pastry cream, combine the milk and half the sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, sift the flour over the yolks and whisk them together. Beat one-third of the boiling milk into the yolk mixture and return the remaining milk to a boil. Beat the yolk mixture back into the boiling milk and continue beating until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the cream onto a clean plate and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against the cream to prevent a skin from forming.

Bake the tart shell as in the above recipe. Spread the cooled pastry cream over the cooled tart shell. Cut the cleaned berries in half and arrange them cut side down over the pastry cream.

For the glaze, bring the preserves and the kirsch to a boil. Strain into another pan and return to boil. Reduce for a minute or two until it thickens. Brush the glaze onto the berries. Edge the tart with almonds and sprinkle almonds with confectioners' sugar. Don't glaze the berries more than a few hours before serving or they will become watery. Serve alone or with a spoonful of whipped cream.

Try some other flavor creations such as Chocolate Banana Cream Tart, Apricot Pistachio Tart, pears, cream cheese and guava, Portuguese Rice Tart or use nut fillings.

This next recipe is a wonderful summer treat and can easily be taken to a Fourth of July picnic! These are easy to make for a crowd and have the same delicate texture as larger crumb cakes.

Blueberry Crumb Cake Squares

For the cake:
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1-½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 2-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 quart blueberries (you can substitute cherries)
The crumb topping:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-½ sticks butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the cake batter, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. In another bowl stir the 3 yolks into the milk. Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir into the batter alternating with the yolk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Spread the batter into a prepared 10x15-inch pan. Scatter the berries over the batter evenly and press them in slightly.

To make the crumbs, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and stir in the melted butter. Rub the mixture together by hand until crumbly. Scatter mixture over berries as evenly as possible. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the crumbs are well colored. Cool the cake in the pan and cut into 15 squares. Keep loosely covered at room temperature.

Try some of these summer favorites for your Fourth of July party. I know I will be cooking up a storm!


Jennifer Farmer is a pastry chef living in Austin, Texas.
Online Since 1997
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