Happy 4th of July, dear friends! Today is not just about having a barbecue cookout with friends and watching the fireworks. No! It’s about celebrating our nation’s independence from the rule of those who sought to control us with taxes and deny us representation. Sovereignty is not something to be taken lightly, people. And lest we forget what oppression feels like, I offer my own personal experience.

Before I get philosophical here, I should explain. I’m kind of a crazy person. Let’s not kid ourselves here. I’m totally a crazy person. My insanity manifests itself in many ways; I have more types of tea than pairs of shoes, I buy back-ups of things I like because I dread running out, I am utterly disgusted by the sight of someone flossing, and I hate ladybugs, daddy long legs, and butterflies. But my most maladaptive habit is definitely my insane tab addition.

Yes, “tab” as in a browser tab. Like a website. From what I’ve surmised, normal people open a few tabs. The bold keep maybe 10 open at once. I have on the order of 80+ tabs open in my browser at any given time. That is not an exaggeration. Yesterday I counted 67 tabs in one window alone. Boyfriend once joked that I had “more tabs than God.”

Now, I understand that sounds excessive. But there’s really no way around it, I promise. I spend most of my life on the internet, let’s face it. And I tend to get very excited about things. Like that new restaurant I want to try when it opens, or that Adobe Illustrator tutorial. These things can’t be bookmarked, or else they’d fall off my radar and into an abyss of things I once thought would be exciting or useful, but have since become irrelevant or outdated. These aren’t just websites, people. They’re opportunities! Opportunities to do things, learn things, experience things! They can’t be relegated to a sad folder! They must be constantly there, reminders of the full, exciting life I could have!

Which is all nice, and fine…. Until your beast of a computer starts taking (literally) 25 seconds to register a click. Or until you can’t actually figure out what any of the 80 tabs you have open are because they’re so small, they can’t even show a full letter. Or worse, until they get buried to the right because they can’t be compressed any more and your browser window is already the full size of your screen. Yes, this is my life.

But not today! No. Today, I decided to free myself from the onerous oppression of a life enslaved by tabs. Today I closed enough tabs to see my favicons. To be able to organize my tabs into meaningful collections. To make sense of the chaos I’ve been cultivating for months.

Today, I am free. And in honor of that freedom, I decided to make oppression-free orange blossom fruit tarts. These babies are my favorite thing I’ve made so far. (Yes, I’m fully aware I say that frequently. And I do genuinely mean it every time. I just can’t help it if I top myself regularly.) I created a delectable orange blossom pastry cream that I could literally eat by the spoonful. And when you top them with the yummy, fresh fruit that’s in season this time of year, it’s a killer combination. Of course, if you’re normal and not celebrating a crazy occasion like closing a few tabs, you can take it down a notch and use pre-made pastry dough.

But when you’re down to a mere 65 tabs, you’ve got something real to celebrate.

Orange Blossom Fruit Tarts

Makes about 15 mini fruit tarts

Tart dough recipe adapted from

Cook’s Illustrated

Tart Pastry Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), very cold

Orange Blossom Pastry Cream Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, if you can’t find orange blossom water)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions

  1. For the Tart Pastry:Whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Cut butter into ½ inch slices and drop into flour mixture. Pulse to incorporate butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal (about fifteen 1-second pulses). With the food processor running, add the egg mixture and process until dough just comes together (about 25 seconds). Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 48 hours).
  2. Remove dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll out dough through the plastic wrap until it’s about ¼ inch thick. With a round cookie cutter (I used one around 3-inches in diameter), cut as many circles as you can in the flattened dough. Gently transfer the circles to an ungreased muffin tin, centering each circle in each muffin slot. Using your fingers, push down on the dough so that it is formed to the shape of the tin. Make sure to flatten the sides (you want it to be tall enough so that you can comfortably fill it with cream, since it will thicken when it bakes). (Troubleshooting tips: If some edges are too thin, reinforce sides by folding excess dough back on itself. If the dough gets too sticky, pop it back into the fridge for 20 minutes or so until it is cold enough to be more manageable.) Set dough-lined muffin tin in freezer for 15-20 minutes, until the dough is firm.
  3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Set dough-lined muffin tin in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 7 minutes (timing will vary depending on size). Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  4. For the pastry cream:In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don’t let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
  5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up). Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking furiously to prevent curdling. Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. Stir in extract. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick (if you’re whisking, you may not see boiling. If so, just look for when it gets noticeably thick or the consistency of a thick yogurt). Remove from heat. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature.
  6. Assembling the tarts:When the tart pastry has cooled completely, remove from muffin tins (I used the tip of a very sharp knife to loosen them, but they should come out fairly easily). Using a small spoon, scoop about a tablespoon of pastry cream into the tarts (or if you want to be fancy, you could pipe it in as well). Now the fun part. Using whatever fruit you have (I personally like berries, peaches and mango), artfully place the fruit on top of the pastry cream. If you want to be even fancier, you could create a jelly glaze to brush over the tops of the tarts, but I find this step rather unnecessary and since the tarts take long enough on their own, I skip this step. Voila!

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