The University District farmers market is one of the bigger and better neighborhood markets, and even at the first booth, I feel like a kid in a candy store. I try to force myself to walk around the whole market before making my first purchase. Sometimes I even make it. Last Saturday, I didn’t. I spotted red currants in one booth, and quickly grabbed a pint. They were sitting next to gooseberries which I also couldn’t resist, although I really had no idea what to do with them. Into my bag also went a grab bag of first of the season apricots, with the faintest of red blush. Some fresh fruit tarts were definitely going to be making an appearance.
First off, I had to learn a little something about the gooseberries.
The Produce Bible, a great cookbook that goes into detail about the this and that of almost any fruit or vegetable you could find, had a couple of great tips on gooseberries. According to it, gooseberries are one of the few fruits that should cooked before eating. Of course, I read this after snacking on quite a few of the grape-like berries earlier. There were no ill effects, and I kind of liked the sweet-tart bite of each gooseberry, which reminded me of a kiwi mixed with a concord grape. The inside is sweet and juice and the skins hold all of the tartness. If you are using gooseberries, make sure they are not too ripe… they should be somewhat firm, or they start to develop an off-flavor. The little brown tops and green tails should be trimmed off before using them.
For the pastry for the tarts, I turned to Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Traditions from Around the World by Alford and Duguid. There are a myriad of pastry recipes in this book, but I wanted a fairly quick puff pastry. The Rough Puff recipe looked like it would do the trick. The pastry turned out well… it’s light and flaky and puffed a small amount as promised. But, I don’t think I’d make it again. It just wasn’t much of a time savor overall from regular puffed pastry, which gives a bit more puff. My next batch, I’ve decided will use a croissant dough instead, for a more danish like puffy chewy texture.
But the beauty of these tarts is that you fill them with whatever combination suits you. The currant tart is simply fresh currants, topped with a touch of honey once cooked. The apricots can be sliced and cooked as is, or poached in white wine or sherry. A drizzle, once again, of honey and a little flake sea salt makes each bite irresistible. The gooseberry tart requires a touch more workâ€“ a quick saute in some sugar and a vanilla bean to create a luscious syrup.
4 to 5 small tarts
1 cup of gooseberries, topped and tailed
1 t water
3 T sugar
1 vanilla bean, split open
2 t lemon juice
1/2 recipe for puff pastry dough
Prepare your pastry dough, and let it chill for at least 30 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and place it in the freezer.
Add the gooseberries, water, vanilla bean, and and sugar to a saute pan. Mix to coat, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and add the lemon juice. Remove the vanilla bean, cover and allow the berries to cool in the syrup.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time (leaving the remainder in the refrigerator), roll out to about a 5 inch by 4 inch rectangle, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Slice the dough in half. Cut the center out of one of the halves, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Then, place the edged piece on top of the solid piece, and lightly press down. Then, place on the parchment lined baking sheet in the freezer. Proceed to the next piece of dough and repeat. (If you want, you can re-roll the remnants, rechill them, and make one or two more tarts. These won’t puff up as well though.)
Spoon the gooseberry mixture into the center of the tart. Only add enough that the pastry rim you’ve created can hold in filling.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
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18 thoughts on “Gooseberry, Currant and Apricot Fruit Tarts”
Gooseberries, very interesting. They look so alien. I’ll have to keep my eye out for them here in New Orleans, but from your description, they sound a little like muscadines.
Growing up in rural north Louisiana, I am very familiar with muscadines. They are huge, deep purple (almost black) spheres that are difficult eat without a little preparation. Their skins are thick and tart but edible, and conceal a slippery, sweet surprise. They have pits, too.
My grandmother always made jelly out of it, and apart from mayhaw jelly, it was always my favorite. I would be intersted in trying them with this recipe. If I can get my hands on some muscadines, I’ll let you know. bk
blake, sorry to disturb you with this, so many years after your comment. But my girlfriend lives in new orleans (i’m in brazil!) and i’ve looked everywhere for gooseberry desserts there, because her favorite ice cream is gooseberry ice cream. Our anniversary is coming and i thought i’d have her favorite ice cream delivered to her. do you know where i can find some in nola?
thanks in advance. if you wish to contact me in order not to overflow this great website with my story, you can contact me in firstname.lastname@example.org
gooseberries – seem so under-rated. When I was a kid the next door neighbours had several gooseberry bushes. They were grubbed up sadly but they always bring back childhood memories. Dont see them much these days.
Time for a revival me thinks!
That looks lovely! Unfortunately no berry or stone fruit season in Sydney right now… I haven’t had gooseberries for ages but I do recollect eating them raw as a kid – no memory of bad side-effects whatsoever!
Lara – I have only ever had gooseberries in fools, which are ethereal summer treats. A gooseberry fool is particularly grand because the tartness of the fruit is complemented by a cloud of cream. Heaven. Last summer I tried to find currants but always missed out. I will try to get to the farmers’ market early next time!
I love the taste of kiwis and grapes, so I may give gooseberries a try if I run into some! They are really pretty!
i chowed down on a huge bowl of red currants yesterday. my boyfriend’s parents have bushes of them surrounding their house! we’re heading back for the weekend… i’ll most certainly be making these tarts for their neighborhood event! thanks for the inspiration.
Oh I love the idea of using the fresh fruits simply in these little tarts! I’ve never tried gooseberries before but I like that green shade they have. In that photo, they look so tantalising! I like eating red currants but my friends seem to think they’re too tart, which is all good because I always get them when they appear on cakes!
We had a gooseberry bush in backyard when I was growing up, but it was always more of a “dare” to east as many as possible. They are quite possibly the strangest texture of fruit I’ve ever had. Not to mention, sour! 🙂
That looks delicious and very nice shot too. Your blog is very usefull for me as a beginner. I have linked it in my site, if you donÂ´t mind. Unfortunately, I Â´ve written my blog in Indonesien. Next time, may I tried write it down in English.
I love easy recipes like this that present so well for so little effort. Thanks!
The tarts look lovely–and speaking of lovely: I just received my order of photo cards — the apricot tulips–and am THRILLED with them. They came in a matter of days and the the quality is so much higher than I expected. I’ll be ordering more soon.
I too love the UDistrict Farmer’s market. I’ve never seen gooseberries before but they sound quite tasty (and they look very unique). The currant and apricot tarts look delish as well.
I spent my childhood in Poland. Every family had some gooseberry bushes in the garden. Now I’m living in Portugal and nobody ever heard about anything as weird as gooseberry. 😉 And donÂ´t worry Lara we’ve eaten kilograms of raw gooseberries without any “side effects”;). I’m familiar with red gooseberry variety (http://www.tracz.pl/i/katalog/800.0296.jpg), but it’s certainly not the same thing Blake calls muscadine.
Gawd, that picture is luscious, down to the red fingernails.
Wow! Thanks for sharing a great recipe. Really easy to follow. And must say that it really looks wonderful in yr piccies – you’re a really good photographer!! (I wish I was as skilled as you are, so that I can take good looking food pics for my blog….(*sigh*)
I wholeheartedly concur on the photo; absolutely sexy stuff! The red nailpolish makes it.
Try to find red goosberries. They are much sweeter than the green ones, and also very delicious. Gooseberries are some of the easiest berries to grow, and are very popular in northern Europe. Great entry. 🙂