Last-Minute Vegan Fruit Tart

Ever wandered, drooling,1 past a bakery window and wished that you could have a tart of your very own? A tart to cherish, to love, to pile high with freshly sliced fruit? Well, now you can!

As is often the case, I volunteered to provide dessert for a social occasion without actually knowing what I’d make. Or if I had the necessary ingredients. Or even the time. This tart is the result of an hour of frantic online recipe browsing, leafing through cookbooks, and running around Harris Teeter like a madwoman, and another hour of stirring, accidentally powdering all nearby surfaces with confectioners’ sugar, slicing fruit quickly rather than safely, and pouring hot jam. But it’s worth it for all the envious looks you’ll receive from your roommate, passers-by on the street, and even the normally surly DC bus driver who isn’t supposed to let you on with open dishes of food but makes an exception because it looks so scrumptious. Most of this recipe is taken from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking.

Last Minute Vegan Fruit Tart2

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SHORTBREAD CRUST:

  • 1/2 cup (112g) non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, at room temperature3
  • 1/4 cup (25g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp ice water

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease the pie pan with canola oil or nondairy butter. I used this 9″ tart pan, but any similarly sized pie dish or square casserole dish will do. Use tartlet pans or even a muffin pan if you want to make cute little tartlets.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. (If you have an electric mixer, use it. If not, a spoon employed vigorously for several minutes is also sufficient. My mixture was creamy–rather than fluffy–and still turned out fine.)

Add the flour a third at a time and beat until the dough just comes together. If your dough, like mine, doesn’t just “come together”, stir in ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough begins to form a loose ball. It’s okay if it’s still a little crumbly. If you’re not on a tight schedule, I recommend covering the dough4 and chilling it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. This will help prevent shrinking when you bake.

Press the mixture into the bottom of your prepared pan. (If you are making tartlets, be sure that you spread the dough quite thin in the tartlet pans or muffin tin, as it will puff up when baking.) Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Bake time will vary depending on your oven. Mine took about 35 minutes, so start out with 20 and check every 5-10 minutes after that. Remove from the oven and place somewhere to cool.

PASTRY CREAM (CUSTARD):

  • 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp (16g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp (32g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup (60mL) water
  • 1 1/3 cups (315mL) nondairy milk (I used rice milk, but soy milk is obviously fine, too)
  • 2 tsp vanilla or lemon extract (I used vanilla)

Hey, slice your fruit first since you’re going to put it on as soon as the pastry cream is done!

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and water on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. (Again, I just used a fork for about 4 minutes, adding the ingredients one at a time.) Set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Pour about 1/3 cup (80mL) of the hot milk into the sugar mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. This doesn’t have to be precise; just make sure the sugar mixture is a little liquid-y. Pour this sugar-milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk. Return to the stove and heat over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. This is important! Don’t stop whisking for anything, not even zombies or kittens! It will begin to thicken immediately. (They’re not kidding. It only takes about a minute or two, if that, for the cream to thicken sufficiently.)

Scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as you whisk. Cook until it begins to bubble, then whisk as vigorously as you can for 30 seconds, and remove from heat. (Mine never bubbled. If yours doesn’t either, just remove from heat when it seems about as thick as your average chocolate pudding.) Stir in the vanilla/lemon extract.

Your pie crust should be baked and ready, so go ahead and pour the cream into the crust right away, smoothing it flat with a rubber spatula or large spoon. It doesn’t have to be perfect, since the fruit will be covering it anyway. Be sure to put your fruit on top immediately, before the pastry cream sets.

If your crust isn’t ready yet, you can store the pastry cream (covered) in the fridge for up to 3 days.

TOPPING:

  • 3-4 tbsp (80g) jelly, jam or preserves (I used apricot jam. Peach is also good.)
  • 2 1/2 cups fruit, sliced (I used about 1 1/2 cups of strawberries, 1 kiwi, 7 blackberries, and a handful of blueberries)

Arrange your sliced fruit on top of the tart. Even if you’re the worst pastry decorator in the history of the world, there’s no way this will look anything but delicious.

Heat the jelly in a small saucepan, whisking constantly. Once it’s hot, strain into a small bowl, mug, or measuring cup, leaving behind seeds or anything else solid. It should be liquid enough to pour. If it’s too thick, just reheat with a little water added.

Using a pastry brush (or a small spoon, in a pinch), brush the heated jelly over the top of the fruit. Everything should be covered with a thickish layer, but not overwhelmed. It should look moist, shiny, and wonderful. NOTE: it may be difficult to stop yourself from devouring the tart right then and there. (Another argument for tartlets.)

Serves 8, supposedly. It served three of us, with about 1/6 left over.

For an equally delicious, non-vegan version of this recipe, simply use real butter and milk.

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  1. Don’t be ashamed! There is nothing wrong with wandering droolers. []
  2. More photos on Flickr. []
  3. I cheated and used real butter, from happy farmer’s market cows. []
  4. I like to roll it into a ball and cover in plastic wrap, but you can also just cover the top of your bowl. []

24 Responses

  • I made this recipe in August and it was amazing! I was extremely doubtful, but it turned out tasty and beautiful! Many thanks for posting this delicious recipe. The vegan, vegetarians and omnivores all agreed that it was a tasty treat to be repeated.

  • I made these tarts in a muffin pan, and they turned out wonderfully in the end but I must add a few details to the recipe to make it fool proof…fools like me can nearly wreck it despite it’s simplicity.

    When you’re pressing the dough into the pan it can be so thin that you can see the colour of the pan, it puffs up quite a bit in the oven so its best to spread the dough out between as many muffin pans as possible. When my first batch came out of the over they were hardly bowl shaped because I didn’t spread the dough thin enough.

    But most importantly- for anyone who is custard ignorant like me- you HAVE to pour the custard into the tart when it is ready and you HAVE to put the fruit on the custard before it sets. First I put the custard into the first 6 mini tarts and didn’t put the fruit on right away and it set so when I did put the fruit on it was noticabley sitting ontop of the custard…and sort of slipping off.

    When the next 6 mini tarts came out I stirred up the custard and it got all lumpy. Even after reheating it and adding some more hot almond milk it was lumpy. I tasted it and the lumps weren’t powdery or anything too bad so I just filled the tarts and covered it up.

    The end result wasn’t very reflective of all the mistakes I made. Everyone at the party was saying how pretty they were and someone even thought they were storebought!

    Anyway I didn’t mean to write such a novel, but thank you for posting the recipe, and the incredible photos; they were what drew me in! This is definately a recipe I will be making again. And I mean definately, I have all the ingredients so that I can whip it up again tomorrow for a Christmas dinner!

  • Veggie Tales:
    Thanks so much for the helpful tips! Sometimes when I write out these recipes I forget to include details that really make a difference, especially with something as delicate as fancy pastries. If it’s all right with you, I will update this post to include your suggestions.

    K:
    Glad you both enjoyed it! Take photos next time and send ’em to me!

  • Good heavens, running around like a madwoman is exactly what I’m doing right now. I volunteered to bring enough dessert for 15 people and have never made a custard tart in my life but I’m drooling now and there’s no turning back. Thank you for this lovely, lovely recipe. Here’s hoping for success!

  • I wanted to try this recipe for tonight! i was just wondering if its alright to prepare the entire tart in advance?
    Will the pastry get soggy?

  • Anvi:
    Sorry if this response is late, but maybe it will help others! The tart is best if served just after preparation, of course, but you can absolutely prepare it in advance and stick it in the fridge. The pastry shouldn’t get too soggy.

  • I made this yesterday and it was very well-received!! Thanks for the clear directions. I have I only done a tart once before and the crust was from this recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/11/the-great-unshrinkable-sweet-tart-shell/

    This time I needed a vegan version and found yours. The smitten kitchen recipe has some nice suggestions for chilling/baking the crust first, which I tried with your recipe and was sooooooo pleased with the results. Just thought I’d share in case people had trouble with crust shrinkage or bubbling. Thanks again for such a great sweet treat idea!!

    • Hey there, and thanks for the suggestion! Chilling the dough is a wonderful idea- I always do it when I’m making tarts or pies. And Deb’s recipe over at Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorites.

      I have updated the recipe to include chilling, for those who are not making this last-minute :)

  • Love this recipe! Something that looks this good ought to be more complicated bit it really isn’t. Have made it twice now and will definitely be making it again. Pics of mine (an all strawberry version ) if you’re interested are on my instagram @veganumptious or Facebook page Entering Vegan Territory.

  • Just made this and can not believe how easy it was I followed every step and I am actually so pleased with the finnished product thank you ???

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