Mini Fruit Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Easy Mini Fruit Tarts filled with an easy homemade from-scratch vanilla pastry cream! Top fruit tarts with strawberries, kiwi, mandarin slices, or anything else you please! These mini fruit tarts are the perfect bite-sized dessert for a bridal shower, baby shower, Mother’s Day, or afternoon tea!
Mini Fruit Tarts are my jam!
You know how sometimes you have a favorite dessert that just has a choke hold on you and no matter what you do you can’t stop thinking about it?
Well, that’s what the La Madeline Fruit Tart was for me.
Creamy and delicious vanilla pastry cream speckled with vanilla bean paste. Sweet and tart topped with fresh berries, kiwi slices, mandarin oranges, and slivers of red grapes. The shortcrust pastry was always buttery and lightly sweetened. And the whole thing together was a harmonious bite of buttery pastry, smooth vanilla creme patisserie, and tart fresh fruit segments.
Today I’m showing you my quick and easy mini fruit tarts where I’ve gone ahead and used mini store-bought tart shells instead of making the shortbread crust from scratch. This cuts down on the prep work for this recipe quite a bit. It also makes homemade mini-tarts a lot more accessible for those of us that aren’t big on baking! But you could certainly use your own recipe to make the crust as well. You could also make sugar cookie cups made from store-bought sugar cookie dough and just press it into your muffin pan and bake. I do find that this makes the fruit tarts significantly sweeter than using shortcrust pastry tart shells or mini pie crusts, so I usually prefer to stick with the other options.
I’m also skipping the kiwi, oranges, and grapes and going all in with the berry medley – bring on the blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries! Fruit tartlets are festive enough for the 4th of July and yet easy and pretty enough to serve at a Mother’s Day brunch or a shower!
Ingredients for Mini Fruit Tarts
- Mini Pie or Tart Shells: You can use store-bought prepared tart shells that don’t require any preparation or you can use mini pie shells that just require baking. You can also make homemade shortcrust pastry tart crusts from your favorite recipe and fill them with my pastry cream recipe and top them with fresh fruit.
- Assorted Fruits or Berries: this time around, I made this recipe with just fresh berries. You can also use your favorite cubed fruit instead. Mangoes, kiwi pieces, red grapes cut in half, mandarin slices, and so many other things would work beautifully on these.
- Apricot Preserves: I thin out apricot jam and use it as a glaze on the tarts. It not only gives the fruit tarts a beautiful sheen, but it also adds just a hint of sweetness to tart fruits.
- Granulated Sugar: This is the sweetener for the pastry cream.
- Egg Yolks: Are used for the creme patisserie. The fat in the yolks adds richness and thickens the vanilla pastry cream. Egg yolks are a very common ingredient in pastry cream for many tart recipes.
- Cornstarch: Helps thinking the creme patisserie (or vanilla pastry cream.) A lot of recipes call for flour instead of cornstarch, but I find that cornstarch not only makes the pastry cream gluten-free it also gives it a silkier texture than flour.
- Milk: We’ll simmer the milk with the heavy cream to create the custard for the mini fruit tarts. I usually prefer to use 2% milk here because the heavy cream, it gives the pastry cream the right ratio of cream.
- Heavy Cream: Goes in with the milk. Heavy cream is labeled as ‘heavy whipping cream’ in some countries. Essentially you want a cream that has at least 36% fat content.
- Salad Butter: I like to use salted butter that we’ll add to the pastry cream right at the end. If you don’t have salted butter on hand, just add a pinch of kosher salt when you’re stirring in the butter.
- Vanilla Bean Paste or Vanilla Extract: I like to use vanilla bean paste for this recipe because the pastry cream then has speckles of vanilla bean running through it. If you don’t have vanilla bean paste on hand, feel free to use vanilla extract. The only difference is you’ll want to up the amount of extract you use and add it in at the end so that it doesn’t evaporate when you’re cooking the creme patisserie.
How to make mini fruit tarts that are perfect to entertain with:
- Whisk together the base. To start with, you want to make sure your tart shells are prepared. I usually buy store-bought ones that just need to be baked. I preheat the oven and bake them off while I’m making the cream patisserie so that they can cool off and be ready to fill once the pastry cream is cooled. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture is creamy, pale and yellow in color. Add the cornstarch and whisk it together until combined. I like to use a hand mixer for this step because it cuts down on the elbow grease quite a bit. But you could also do this with a whisk if you prefer.
- Bring the milk to a simmer. Add the milk and cream to a medium saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. You don’t want the mixture to boil because the fat will separate. Instead, you want to just keep an eye on the rim of the saucepan to see when tiny bubbles start to form. When the mixture has tiny bubbles forming, remove it from the heat source. While the stand mixer (or hand mixer) is running, slowly pour the cream into the yolk mixture. The key is to continue whisking so that the egg yolks don’t curdle. Pouring the warm cream slowly into the egg mixture is known as tempering the eggs.
- Cook the creme patisserie. Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and cook this over medium-low heat. Whisk or stir the mixture constantly to keep things from sticking to the bottom. Add the vanilla paste and continue to cook the pastry cream until it thickens. Once it’s thick, transfer the pastry cream to a fine mesh strainer and strain it into a heat-proof bowl. Then add the butter and stir to combine. If you’re using vanilla extract, this would be the time it add it in. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the vanilla pastry cream. You want to make sure that there aren’t any air bubbles between the cream and the plastic. This helps ensure that the filling doesn’t develop a layer of skin on top. Then place the filling in the fridge and allow it to cool completely.
- Make fruit tarts. Whisk the pastry cream with a hand mixer until it’s smooth. You want it to be airy and light and this helps with that! Fill each tart shell with about 2 tablespoons of pastry cream. I like to use a piping bag to make it neat and clean. Then top with fresh berries or cubed fruit. Melt the apricot preserves in the microwave with a splash of water. You want it to be a glaze-like texture. Whisk with a fork to thin out the glaze. Then brush the fruit lightly with this. Allow the fruit tarts to cool for at least 1 hour before serving. This allows the glaze to set up beautifully and also gives the pastry cream a chance to set as well.
FAQs about fruit tarts
When you cool the creme patisserie before piping it into the fruit tart shells, you eliminate the chance of the fruit tarts becoming soggy.
Vanilla pastry cream of creme patisserie is the best filling for a fruit tart.
It’s typically apricot preserves that have been thinned out with a little water. It adds a nice glisten to the fruit on top and gives them a bit more flavor.
Yes, the filling can be made up to 48 hours ahead of filling the tart molds. Just make sure to cover the surface so that the pastry cream doesn’t form a skin. You’ll also want to make sure to whisk the pastry cream with a hand mixer to make sure it’s smooth before filling the tart shells.
If you like this dessert recipe, you might also like:
- Glowing Berry Fruit Salad
- The Best Fruit Pizza
- Key Lime Pie Bars
- Easy Texas Blueberry Cobbler
- Glazed Lemon Raspberry Bundt Cake
Mini Fruit Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Easy Mini Fruit Tarts filled with an easy homemade from-scratch vanilla pastry cream! Top fruit tarts with strawberries, kiwi, mandarin slices, or anything else you please! These mini fruit tarts are the perfect bite-sized dessert for a bridal shower, baby shower, Mother's Day, or afternoon tea!
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks, cold
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 cup heavy cream (36% fat)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (double if extract)
- 13-15 mini tart shells (see notes)
- ~2 cups assorted fresh berries (or diced fruit)
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
- WHISK: In a heatproof bowl with a hand mixer or the bowl of your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks and sugar until creamy and pale yellow; approximately 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined.
- SIMMER: Heat the milk and cream in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles start forming around the rim of the saucepan. Do not let the cream boil. Remove from heat. Gradually pour the hot cream in a steady stream into the egg mixture while the mixer runs until completely incorporated and smooth.
- COOK: Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and then heat over medium-low heat whisking constantly. Add the vanilla paste (don’t add extract yet.) Allow the pastry cream to cook until it thickens; about 4-5 minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Then stir in the butter and add vanilla extract (if using.) Press a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface of the pastry cream and make sure there aren’t any air bubbles between the cream and the plastic. This will keep the patisserie cream from developing a skin. Bring to room temperature and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before piping. The filling can be made up to 48 hours in advance.
- TARTS: Whisk the pastry cream with a hand mixer until smooth and airy. Pipe into prepared tart shells. Top with fresh berries as desired. Melt the apricot preserves in the microwave with a teaspoon of water for 15-30 seconds and brush the fruit with this using a pastry brush. I like to refrigerate the fruit tarts for 1 hour before serving, but this is optional.
- Tart shells: Use your favorite shortcrust pastry recipe, store-bought shells, or even cookie cups made out of sugar cookie dough. My grocery store sells ~2-inch pie shells that I blind baked and used for this. Use pie weights or beans if you feel the crust may rise during baking.
- Fruit toppings: I like to use a berry medley for this typically. But sometimes I'll do chunks of kiwi, mango, or even grapes. Feel free to use any fruit that you like here.