Strawberry Balsamic Tarts | Summer in Seattle

Strawberry Balsamic Tart recipe

I didn’t really expect to be away from here for so long. It wasn’t a planned absence. I went away on a little trip with K and then thing after thing got in the way of coming back here. These weren’t bad things. They were mostly good things. There was a surprise visit from a dear friend who moved away last year. There were many trips to the park, some hikes, and a bit of indulgent shopping here and there. It was mostly great although I wish I could tell you it was all relaxing. This is always a hard time for our family. It’s wedding season, which means K is gone a lot. He is off on airplanes and in rental cars memorializing people’s special days. He has such fun out there doing his dream job, but we miss him terribly. And, admittedly, I cook less and don’t photograph nearly anything in his absence. I also tend to go nearly insane, but that’s an entirely different story more appropriate for an intimate discussion to take place at a later date (at a bar).

Strawberry Balsamic Tart recipe

But I’m back in action and feeling slightly less exhausted. K is home for now and we are eating normally again. It’s also sporadically sunny for which I am terribly grateful. A few meager days of sun here and there are far better than none at all. I know that might sound a bit strange. If you lived here, you would understand. If not, it might be a bit confusing. You likely think Seattle folk don’t care much for the sun. After all, we choose to live in an area of the country where we are almost always covered by a blanket of gray sky. But if you really want to know the truth I can tell you. People here are totally bananas for the sun. When the temperature hits 60 degrees and there’s faint sunlight apparent through the clouds, more than a few people don flipflops and hot pants. I kid you not. The amount of skin people willingly bare around here on a partially sunny day in June is ridiculous. On the other hand, it’s also sort of liberating. Most residents of the city are ghastly pale. The pasty legs all around really seem to level the playing field. It’s not L.A. and no one is pretending it is. What a relief! But don’t worry. You won’t find me wearing tiny shorts or a bikini top around town. That’s not really my thing. I celebrate with food. This is a distinctly bikini prohibitive manner of celebration, but I’m O.K. with that. We have a decent patio where you can find us on most summer evenings. While the little one digs into my newly potted plants with her tiny garden tools, K and I putter about making fun things to eat.

Strawberry Balsamic Tart recipe

These days, there are berries at any hour of the day. It’s berry season. We are in the thick of it and I can see no good reason why I can’t include some type of berry in nearly every meal. I don’t hear many objections around here. Maeve, as I mentioned, is a berry addict. She will live on berries alone, but I am making some attempt to encourage moderation. Berries dot our meals throughout the day whether they are included in muffins, salads, or straight out of a bowl with a touch of sugar. We don’t generally discriminate, but I do tend to favor tarts and hand pies.

One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is to make simple fruit tarts. It’s such an easy way to enjoy the fruits of summer that I wonder if it’s even worth discussing. You can be the judge. I figure you might enjoy hearing about this particular tart recipe because it’s a bit different. The pastry might be the same sweet pastry to which you are all accustomed, but the real stars of the show are the berries soaked in a balsamic simple syrup.

Yes. You heard me right.

Balsamic simple syrup!

It’s a miracle. I swear by it now. You can soak your berries in the balsamic simple syrup and grill them on the barbecue. Or, follow this recipe today and soak your strawberries in balsamic simple syrup before popping them into tiny tart cups. It’s the easiest thing ever, but the reward it big because the flavors are so bold and bright.

This simple syrup is my new favorite condiment and these tarts are my new favorite summer dessert. I hope you like them too. We enjoyed them in the afternoon with coffee. Maeve didn’t have coffee, but she did just about flip her lid over these. She would probably eat them to the exclusion of all other foods, but I am trying to do my best to convince her broccoli is pretty cool too. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Strawberry Balsamic Tart recipe

Strawberry Balsamic Tarts (makes about 16 small tarts)

For the Dough:

1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk1 1/2 tablespoons ice water
For the berry mixture:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 pound organic strawberries, hulled* and quartered
1 tablespoon raw sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together yolk and water with a fork and stir into flour mixture until combined well.
Gently knead mixture in bowl with floured hands just until a dough forms. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 4 or 5 times more. Form dough into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
While the dough chills, place the water, vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and boil. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the syrup is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat to cool liquid.
Place the strawberries in the cooled syrup and soak for up to 3 hours.
Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Take the top of a glass or a round cookie cutter and cut circles in the dough. Peel off the circles and place them carefully into the muffin slots of a muffin pan. Once you have a full muffin pan of raw tarts, place foil over the top. Make sure the foil is tight around the edges of each individual muffin slot because you don’t want the tart dough to rise high in the oven. You can also place pie weights or beans in each muffin slot to prevent rising.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until just golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven. Dollop the berry mixture into each cup and return to the oven for about 7 minutes until the berries are just warm.
Sprinkle with raw sugar and enjoy.
* That handy dandy strawberry huller can be found here.
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15 Comments

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    oh these are so fun! I used to live in Seattle and remember those days when it seems EVERYONE was outside with the faintest glimmer of sunshine- those really were some beautiful days :)

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    oh these are so fun! I used to live in Seattle and remember those days when it seems EVERYONE was outside with the faintest glimmer of sunshine- those really were some beautiful days :)

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    I, too, share Maeve’s love for berries, and will indeed be making these. Trader Joe’s actually just started carrying Balsamic Glaze (yay!) and I was dreaming up something involving berries. The sun hasn’t been out much here lately (June gloom in San Diego!) but when it comes out, my husband and I can be found on the porch with good food as well.

    Can’t wait until your next post! Hope you are feeling more relaxed. ;)

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    Yum! I add vanilla bean ricotta as a base…just to add even more calories. :)

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    I love easy, simple tarts for summer. Need to try once at least with this balsamic and berry thing. It always sounds like a weird combo but have not tried even once.
    Thank you for your nice words and positive thoughts you are sending my way. I definitely need them. This year is my year (Dragon Year:)) so I have read that is when the big, drastic life changes happen in Dragons’ lives. We shall see! :)

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    Welcome back! What a fun, simple recipe:-) The tarts look so delicious, especially with that simple syrup:-) Take care, Terra

  • June 13, 2012 - | Permalink

    Lovely tartlets! A wonderful summer treat. Here, the weather has been rotten (rainy, cold & grey – this morning it is 45° F), so most people are wearing coats and pants… Bizarre weather. So unusual.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • June 14, 2012 - | Permalink

    Welcome back Robin! What beautiful little summer tarts!

  • June 14, 2012 - | Permalink

    I have been wanting to try berries and balsamic vinegar for awhile. You read my mind.

    Too bad we live too far apart for play dates. We could get our kids together, let them wear each other out, then slip off to that bar after an early bedtime.

    • redmenace
      June 14, 2012 - | Permalink

      Lisa,
      That would be so fun!
      xo
      Robin

  • June 15, 2012 - | Permalink

    I just went through a phase of low creativity, partially because I was traveling so much, and partially because in the summertime, I tend to just want to gorge on fresh vegetables and fruit. Fruit tarts are definitely the way to go, when it comes to summer baking – yours look gorgeous. I am always curious about how Seattleites handle all that gray and sometimes think that some people are just better cut out for it? I guess we all need sun, though….as you probably know, when SF hits anything about 70, it’s sundresses and bikinis all around.. :)

  • June 15, 2012 - | Permalink

    This looks so amazing! I absolutely love balsamic strawberries served with icecream, so I definitely have to give this a go. Thanks for sharing and always inspiring :)

  • June 18, 2012 - | Permalink

    Those tarts sound awesome! Siigh, it is rainy season now and, the truth is, though I love living in the tropics, I actually like when the rains come to cool things down :) I guess the grass is often greener and all that huh? ;)

    What is that little implement? Is that some sort of cute strawberry corer? I am dying of envy!

  • June 19, 2012 - | Permalink

    Love the new blog look, Robin and your little tarts are so inviting. Balsamic simple syrup is genius!

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