Alex Guarnaschelli Calls Her Fruit Tart the 'Little Black Dress' of Holiday Desserts

Alex G

I love to make fruit tarts for the holidays. It provides relief from the puddings, pies, cakes and cookies.

My favorite? A strawberry tart with a brushing of apricot jam over a pastry cream-filled tart shell.

It sounds hard but it isn’t. If you are tight on time, you can fill the tart shell with your favorite ice cream instead of pastry cream and layer the fruit on at the last minute. It is also easy to fill with whipped cream or use a premade tart shell. You can decide how much of this you want to be made from scratch and how much help you need from store-bought ingredients.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Three Favorite Holiday Cookie Recipes

My favorite part about it is the freshness and endless combinations of fruit. I just go to the market and buy whatever looks best.

I am a fan of only using one or two kinds of fruit at one time. While a mixed fruit tart is beautiful, the flavors tend to get muddled when there are too many to distinguish—but that is a matter of personal taste. Do what you like!

If you have enough fruit on your holiday dessert table, you can also make a chocolate ganache by melting equal parts of chocolate and warm heavy cream and whisking together. Fill the tart shell and let it set before serving. Top with raspberries or whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

You can also buy individual tart shells or little phyllo dough shells to fill with cream and top with fruit. They make the perfect small bite of dessert for a buffet!

Here are some of my suggested combinations:

Strawberries with apricot jam

Blackberries with orange marmalade

Kiwi slices with lemon

Mango with a sprinkle of brown sugar

Raspberries and pomegranate seeds

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Holiday Fruit Tart

Serves: 8-10

Tart dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. sugar

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Zest from ½ lemon

½ cup ice water

Pastry cream:

6 large egg yolks

¾ cups sugar

3 tbsp. cornstarch

11/2 cups whole milk

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. heavy cream

2 tbsp. unsalted butter


2 pints strawberries, hulled, halved/quartered

3 tbsp. apricot jam, warmed up

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Make the tart dough: In the bowl of the food processor, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Pulse to blend. Through the opening in the top, add the butter and lemon zest. Pulse to blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Pulse only enough to blend. Overworking the dough at any point will only make the texture tough. Pour in the ice water until the dough forms a loose ball. Remove the dough from the machine and press it between two sheets of wax paper to about ¾-inch thickness. Refrigerate.

3. Make the pastry cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it turns pale yellow and you can see the trace of the whisk as it moves through the yolks, 5-8 minutes. Add the cornstarch and whip until fully integrated. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium high heat. Pour the milk, in a slow steady stream and with the mixer on low speed, into the eggs. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat then lower and cook over low medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook 8-10 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick. Stir in the vanilla, cream and butter. Pour the pastry cream onto a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and immediately cover with plastic wrap so the cream doesn’t form a skin as it cools. Refrigerate.

4. Liberally grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Lightly flour a flat surface and roll the dough to a circle a couple of inches larger than the tart pan. Gently roll the tart dough around the rolling pin and roll it over the tart pan. Gently press the dough against the side and onto the bottom. Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and place it, greased side down, on top of the dough. Fill with dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and gently remove the foil and the beans. Return the tart to the oven and bake an additional 10-12 minutes or until the dough is light brown. Remove from the oven. Cool.

5. Assemble the tart: Fill the tart shell with the pastry cream and top with the strawberries and brush with the apricot jam. Devour.

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