A trip to a local market this week yielded a huge basket of sweet, ripe blueberries. They were so good that I couldn’t pass them up, but I also knew that I would need to come up with at least one blueberry-heavy recipe to use them up before they went past their prime, or just bite the bullet and freeze some. A pie seemed like an ideal way to use up lots of berries, though a double crust wouldn’t show off how gorgeous they were. I opted instead to make an open blueberry tart, letting both the flavor and color of the berries shine.
There are many different types of berry tarts out there. Some encase the berries in a batter of some kind, while others use berries as a jewel-like topping for a creamy filling. I wanted to have a filling where berries were the focal point, not just an afterthought or accessory. In amongst my bookmarks, I have a recipe for small blueberry meringue tarts from Anna Olsen and I decided to use it as a jumping off point for my tart. The filling for the tarts particularly interested me, as it used both fresh and cooked blueberries.
The filling worked out beautifully. The fact that some of the berries were cooked in a sugar/cornstarch syrup gave the filling an excellent color and just enough sweetness, while the fresh berries (stirred in at the end), added texture and a bit of a “pop” when you bit into one. If you look closely at the sliced tart, you can just see the green centers of some of the fresh berries. The filling firmed up well enough to slice after being refrigerate, but was still soft and very juicy. You can try this filling with frozen and thawed berries and it will probably come out ok; fresh berries are far and away the best way to go here.
The crust was shortbread-like, and a good balance for the filling. I really liked the fact that it was sturdy, but tender – excellent qualities in a base for a soft filling. I brushed the whole crust with melted white chocolate to “seal” it once it was cool, so the filling never had a chance to make the crust soggy, even after a couple of days in the fridge (so this tart can be made a day or two ahead of time). I used a rectangular tart pan, but this crust will work for a 9 or 10-inch round tart, as well.
Fresh Blueberry Tart
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3-oz. white chocolate
3 cups fresh blueberries, divided
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
Make the crust: In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg. When fully incorporated, stir in flour and salt until dough comes together. Press dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Roll chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cover a 9 or 10-inch round pie tin (or a 4×14-inch rectangular tart pan). If the dough cracks around the edges, you can patch it with an extra piece of dough. Press into pan and up the sides. Poke bottom crust a dozen times with a fork.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges just begin to turn golden.
When crust has cooled, melt white chocolate in a small bowl and use a small offset spatula or pastry brush to brush an even layer of chocolate on the inside base and sides of the crust. Chill until ready to use.
Make the filling: Combine 1 1/2 cups of the fresh blueberries with 3/4 cup sugar in a medium sauce pan. Whisk together water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir into blueberry mixture. Cook, over medium-high heat, until berry mixture comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Stirring occasionally, boil for about 1 minute. Transfer berry mixture to a large bowl to cool to room temperature.
When berry mixture has cooled, stir in fresh blueberries. Pour blueberry mixture into prepared crust and spread into an even layer.
Refrigerate (up to 2 days) until ready to serve.