Easy Puff Pastry Tart
The easiest way to throw together a stunningly beautiful fresh fruit tart.
See the People Like Pie cooking class page for step-by-step photographs to make it even easier.
Makes one rectangular tart serving 9-12.
1 14-ounce frozen puff pastry sheet (such as DuFour), thawed in the refrigerator
1 Tablespoon sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted fruit and berries, rinsed and dried (For the American flag design, we used 3/4 pound medium strawberries, 1/2 pint blueberries and 2 bananas)
If using bananas: juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup apricot jam
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the oven rack in the middle position. Remove the puff pastry from its packaging and lay it flat on a lightly floured surface. Very lightly roll the pastry just to flatten the fold marks. (If using a standard American rolling pin with handles, the weight of the pin is probably enough without you needing to press down. If using a lighter-weight French pin, very gentle pressure may be needed.) The less pressure you apply, the more light and flaky layers you'll get in the finished tart. Transfer the pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet and use a knife or pastry scraper to trim uneven edges, creating a uniform rectangle.
See the Cooking Class page for more pictures and more details to help you when working with puff pastry.
2. Use a sharp knife (not-serrated) to mark a 1-inch border all the way around the rectangle (see pictures on this page). To do this, just drag the sharp edge of the knife along the length of the pastry in each direction, allowing it to cut through just the top layer or two and no deeper. Use the tines of a fork to prick the middle section of the pastry all over.
3. Sprinkle the sugar around the edges of the pastry. Bake for 12 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. When cooked through, the pastry will remain puffed when removed from the oven and will not deflate. Cool briefly, then slide onto a rack to cool completely.
4. Combine the mascarpone cheese with the honey and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat the mixture until thoroughly blended and light. Set aside. Warm the apricot jam with 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or water over medium heat.
5. When the tart has finished cooling, cut the berries and fruit pieces into attractive shapes and set aside. If using bananas, have a bowl of lemon juice nearby and drop the banana slices into it as you go to prevent browning. For our American flag design, we cut hulled strawberries in half from end to end and cut 1 1/2 bananas into rounds. We cut the other half banana into smaller pieces for the stars.
6. When ready to assemble the tart, use a fork to press the middle portion of the puff pastry down so that the border is elevated all the way around. Use a spatula to spread the sweetened mascarpone over the middle of the pastry, avoiding the border. Arrange the cut fruit and berries on top of the mascarpone. Use a pastry brush to glaze the fruit with the warm jam.