It’s March and I’ve been cleaning out the freezer of last season’s bounty, preparing for the new season’s bounty that is right around the corner. One of the recipes I’ve been experimenting with is a glazed berry tart, using local berries from my freezer. The first version was a strawberry-black raspberry-wild blueberry pie with concentrated juices from each of these thawed berries; the berries were delicious, and the pastry stayed perfectly crisp, but the glaze was too thin (not enough cornstarch and I did not reduce the juice enough) and the pie did not slice evenly (berries flopped off the pastry onto the plate as soon as it was cut. Tai was eating this pie out of a bowl.) The second version I tried was using red raspberries; these were far too fragile and turned to mush as they thawed (although I got lots of good juice out of them). As they say, third time’s a charm: blackberries are sturdier than raspberries, so they lose a little bit of structure on thawing, but still keep their berry shape. They emit little juice when thawed, so I used commercial white grape/raspberry juice concentrate to thicken up the glaze. They also look gorgeous, with their variegated colors and would pair nicely with a citrus fruit curd or chiffon cream filling.
If you, too, have a few Ziplock bags of berries still patiently waiting in your freezer, give this recipe a try. It’s a lovely treat in these “is it Spring yet?” days of March.
Adapted from various techniques in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Glazed Blackberry Tart
- 1 recipe Deluxe Flaky Pie Crust
- 1/2 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 lb frozen blackberries
- 1/8 cup evaporated cane sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup blackberry juice frozen concentrate, unsweetened, thawed but not diluted (or white grape/raspberry, cran/raspberry or other berry juice concentrate)
- drained blackberry juice + filtered water to volume, 3/4 cup (see Methods)
- Place the frozen blackberries in a large colander set over a bowl to catch the juice. Allow to thaw at room temperature for 3-6 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Make (or thaw) dough for crust. Roll to 1/8 inch thick and fit to a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Cover loosely and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F (400 F convection). Line the pastry shell with parchment and fill with pie weights (small stones, dried beans, rice, etc.) making sure to press the weights into the sides of the pan. Bake the pastry shell, on a baking stone if you have one, for 20 minutes (15 convection). Remove the pie weights & parchments, prick the bottom all over with a fork, and return to the oven for 7 to 10 minutes (4 to 7 minutes convection), or until the pastry is a golden brown throughout and the bottom has no translucent spots. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack; allow to cool for 3 minutes, then while still warm, brush lightly all over with the egg white (this will seal the pastry and keep it crisp even though the topping is juicy). Set aside to cool completely.
- Toss the blackberries gently to dislodge any juices. Pour the berry juice into a liquid cup measure and add water until the volume reaches 3/4 cup. (You will likely have about 1/4 cup or so of blackberry juice; if using a juicier berry, simply use 3/4 cup juice).
- In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add the berry juice mixture and the thawed berry juice concentrate, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and once boiling, cook for 1 minute. The liquid will thicken and become translucent as soon as it hits boiling. After 1 minute of boiling, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Do not refrigerate, as this will stiffen the glaze into a gelatin-like consistency (if making ahead, you can re-heat the glaze in the mircowave for about 1 minute in order to liquefy it again).
- Gently fold the blackberries into the glaze and spoon the filling into the pastry shell. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.
- Most berries will work in this recipe; red raspberries are too fragile and turn to mush on thawing, so are better used in chiffon or sauce recipes. Wild black raspberries (from my backyard) worked well; if you are lucky enough to be able to harvest wild berries in your area, freeze some that are slightly underripe, as they will hold up better on thawing. Frozen whole strawberries should be sliced in half. Blueberries, highbush or wild, freeze & thaw well and are a good choice. Choose a fruit juice concentrate that will work with your favorite berry.
- To use local juice instead of a commercial frozen concentrate (easier if you are making in the summertime or have a lot of freezer space!), start with 4 cups of juice and boil down to 1 cup of concentrated juice. Boil over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan, or in 1 cup batches in a 4-cup microwave-safe measure (lightly sprayed with oil or greased with butter); either method will help to prevent carmelization of the fruit sugars while reducing.
- For a fancy tart (with a non-local twist) add a layer of citrus fruit curd (one recipe) under the berry filling. Fill the baked and egg-white-brushed pastry shell with the curd, then bake in a pre-heated 300 degree F oven for 7 -10 minutes, just to set the curd; the curd should not begin to darken in color, but it should jiggle only slightly when you tap the edge of the pastry pan. Reduce the amount of berries to 1 lb; glaze proportions can stay the same – if you extra it is lovely over ice cream, in yogurt or over cheesecake. Allow the pastry shell/curd to cool completely, then spoon berry filling on top.
Two to three days in the refrigerator. It will stay tasty for up to a week, but the berries will start to look somewhat dessicated and the fruit flavor will lose a bit of punch. Amazingly, the pastry stays crisp for several days.
This is a nice winter or spring tart that can be made with berries harvested in season and tucked away in the freezer for just such an occasion; however, the ingredients are available year round.