Monday, March 3, 2008


The Better Homes & Gardens Prize Tested Recipe $400 winner for the month of March for Frozen Fruits to the Rescue Category is Mixed-Berry Tartlets. This is the recipe that beat out my Blueberry-Pepper Sauce with Chipotle Chile Chicken recipe. The photo in the magazine shows the fruit still plumped up and looking quite fresh, even though it had supposedly been baked in the tartlet shell. Recommended baking time was 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, my tartlets were not cooked. The pastry shells were still half raw and the fruit wasn't even hot. They needed a full 40 minutes, at which time the fruit was cooked but deflated and didn't look so pretty; but thanks to the topping and a mint sprig, the tartlet was presentable at dessert time. When the tartlets cooled, I had trouble getting them out of my nonstick pan that I had sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Only 3 shells came out intact; therefore, I would recommend that you do use the store-bought pie crusts which are sturdier and will stand up better (I used my own pie crust which is flakier and a little more fragile).

I thought the recipe needed more sugar. Tasting the fruit tartlet by itself, it was not sweet enough, and I usually undersweeten fruit desserts. However, when the topping was added, it was perfect. I didn't use the lemon curd-heavy cream topping in the original recipe, since I didn't have any lemon curd on hand and didn't feel like making any. I'll give both recipes below so you can make whichever you want. We had this dessert Sunday night with friends. Our menu started with chicken soup, then salad and that wonderful lasagna I made recently and stashed in the freezer, and finally this dessert which we all thought was a winner, even if it did beat me.

BH&G Prize-Tested Recipes Mixed-Berry Tartlets, adapted

1 15-OZ. pkg. rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crusts (2)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 12-oz. pkg. frozen mixed berries
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup purchased lemon curd
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Mint sprigs (optional)

Judy's Orange-Cream Topping:
3/4 cup very cold fat-free half and half
1-1/2 tsp. Triple Sec liqueur
1/4 tsp. orange extract
2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 pkg. instant French Vanilla pudding mix
1 cup frozen and thawed nonfat or lite whipped topping

PREPARATION: 1. Let pie crusts stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat 12 2-1/2" muffin cups with cooking spray. For pastry shells, unroll pie crusts. Use a 4" round cutter to cut 6 rounds from each crust. (I used the pastic top of a storage container that measured just slightly more than 4".) Press rounds into prepared muffin cups, pleating to fit.

2. For tartlet filling, in a medium bowl, combine the 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cornstarch; stir in berries and lemon juice. Spoon berry mixture into pastry shells. Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden. (Mine took 40 minutes to cook pastry and fruit.) Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove tartlets from muffin cups; cool completely on wire rack.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine whipping cream, lemon curd, 1 tsp. sugar and vanilla; beat with wire whisk or with electric mixer on medium speed until cream mixture mounds and is fluffy. Spoon on tarts. Garnish each tartlet with a mint sprig.

To make Judy's orange-cream topping, pour half and half into medium narrow bowl. Add Triple Sec, orange extract, orange zest, and pudding mix and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes or till mixture starts to thicken and is well blended. Fold in 1 cup whipped topping. Refrigerate till serving time.

Note: I halved BH&G's recipe to make 6 tartlets. I used all my topping on the 6 tartlets. Depending on how much topping you want, if you make 12 tartlets, you might want to double the topping.

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