Friday, May 25, 2018

Mini Fruit Tarts

Sometimes you kind of back into a recipe, yanno? I was contemplating my options before getting out of bed, and realized that I had both strawberries and raspberries that would spoil if I didn’t get around to using them, so I wanted to figure out what to do with them quickly. I didn’t want to make a pie (because I’m lousy at rolling out pie crusts), but I have a wealth of muffin tins in a range of sizes, so why not fruit tarts?

I first went to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but her recipes, lovely (and authentic) as they are, were a bit too complicated for my morning brain. She does have tart recipes, but luckily she allowed for different options for the crust—including one that she admits is more or less a cookie dough. "Aha!" said I. I have a wonderful shortbread cookie recipe (which I shared with you last Halloween) which would do just fine.

Basically you make the pastry, cut out round forms, press them into a muffin tin of whatever size you like, and bake them. Then make a crème patissière (a simple custard) and put a dollop in each tart shell. Put your strawberries (sliced if they’re large) or raspberries on top and voila! Your tarts are ready. I’ll bet they won’t last long.

As usual, I made a half recipe or I'd be eating the tarts for days!

Mini Fruit Tarts

Pastry shells (shortbread)


2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, then add the mixture to the butter-sugar mixture.

Dough ready to chill

Mix together the ingredients until they hold together (if they seem too dry, add a bit more soft butter). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap (or use a plastic bag) and refrigerate for half an hour.

Spray or lightly grease the muffin tins.

Roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into shapes (I happen to have several decorative round cutters. Make sure that the cut piece fits neatly into whatever muffin tin you’re using, without slopping too far over the edges.) Yes, it will be small—the finished tart should give you two good bites!

Bake for 20 minutes. Do not allow to brown around the edges—they should be a pale gold. Let cool before filling them. 

Crème patissière


1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups boiling whole milk
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp vanilla (you can substitute a bit of liqueur or even coffee)


Beat the sugar and egg yolks together. When they’re well mixed, continue beating for 2-3 minutes until the mixture lightens and begins to thicken.

Add the flour and beat in. Gradually add the boiling milk in a thin stream, beating steadily. (Add the hot milk too fast and the mixture will scramble!)

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and set over moderate heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes to cook the flour and eggs. (Be careful that the custard does not scorch on the bottom.)

Remove from the heat and beat in the butter and flavoring.

If you have any left over after filling the tart shells, you can keep it refrigerated for a week.

Assembling the tarts

Add a tablespoon of crème patissière (or more, according to the size of the pastry shell) to each tart shell. Arrange your fruit over the top. If you’re not serving immedately, you can refrigerate them, but not for too long--these should be eaten quickly!

From famine to feast! This past week my latest Relatively Dead mystery, Revealing the Dead, was released by Beyond the Page, along with the three-book set of the first three books in the series.

By the way, that's my actual front door,
although not my cat

And coming next month, the first in my new Victorian Village series, Murder at the Mansion.

Katherine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end hometown of Asheford, Maryland. Fifteen years later she’s got a degree in hospitality management and a great job at a high-end boutique hotel in Baltimore. Until, that is, the hotel is acquired by a chain, and she’s laid off. When Kate’s high school best friend calls with a mysterious invitation to come talk with the town leaders of Asheford, she agrees to make the trip, curious about where this new opportunity might lead.
Once Kate arrives, the town council members reveal that their town is on the verge of going bankrupt, and they’ve decided that Kate’s skills and knowledge make her the perfect person to cure all their ills. The town has used its last available funds to buy the huge Victorian mansion just outside of town, hoping to use it to attract some of the tourists who travel to visit the nearby Civil War battle sites. Kate has less-than-fond memories of the mansion, for personal reasons, but to make matters worse, the only person who has presented a possible alternate plan is Cordelia Walker―Kate’s high school nemesis.
But a few days later, while touring the mansion, Kate stumbles over a body―and it’s none other than Cordelia. Kate finds herself juggling the murder investigation and her growing fascination with the old house, which itself is full of long-hidden mysteries. 

You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


  1. Shortbread crust with pastry cream and fruit? Perfect!

  2. So pretty (the tarts & the cover of Revealing the Dead).

  3. These look delicious. Looking forward to your new book "Murder in the Mansion". Love your County Cork series