Delicious mini fruit tarts made with a buttery shortbread crust, creamy vanilla custard and topped with fresh fruit. The perfect bite-sized sweet treat for spring and summer!
While I love a classic fresh fruit tart, there’s just something about a mini dessert that’s so fun to enjoy. These are one of my favorites bite-sized sweets, along with mini cheesecakes and chocolate cake pops.
As the weather warms up, I find myself shifting focus from chocolate and caramel desserts to lighter-flavored sweets. I love fruit desserts and these mini fruit tarts really let the juicy fresh berries shine.
I also love mini desserts this time of year. Entertaining tends to take a more casual turn with dinner and drinks on patios and decks, kids running around outside until dark, and bite-sized desserts seem both fancy and casual to me. You can grab one (or more!) as you’re passing by the dessert platter and there’s just something so pretty about a collection of little tarts piled up on top of each other. These mini fruit tarts would be great for those end-of-year or graduation parties we all seem to have this time of year.
The crust is made from a simple food processor dough reminiscent of shortbread and pressed into mini-muffin tins. Vanilla custard fills the cups after they’re baked and you should top the custard with whatever fruit is freshest and at its peak at the time.
There is a little more work evolved for this recipe since both the crust and custard are made from scratch, but I promise it’s worth it! You can make the custard while the tart shells are baking, then all that’s left to do is assemble your mini tarts.
Tips for the best mini fruit tarts
- Spray the pan. The last thing you want is for the crust to stick to the bottom of the pan. Make sure to spray each muffin cup with nonstick spray before you press in the dough, so that you can easily pop them out once baked.
- Use cold butter. Similar to making homemade biscuits or scones, make sure to use a stick of COLD butter when making the shortbread crust. It helps make them super tender and gives them a delicious sandy texture. I usually stick my butter in the freezer for about 15 to 30 minutes before using.
- Whisk custard constantly. Don’t walk away from the stove! Continue constantly whisking the custard, so that you don’t burn or curdle the mixture.
- Removing crust from pan. After the crust has baked, let them sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. They need to cool a bit first so that they keep their shape and don’t crumble from being super hot. Then use a knife to easily pop them out.
- You could use a premade pie dough instead of making the shortbread crust from scratch.
- For a bolder vanilla flavor in your custard, use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract.
- Use a fresh lemon curd instead of custard if you prefer.
- You can also fill the crust with a chocolate pudding, strawberry cheesecake mousse or cream cheese filling.
- Use other fresh fruit toppings, like chopped strawberries, kiwi, blackberries or mandarin oranges.
Because of the dairy custard filling, these mini tarts will need to be stored in the refrigerator. Simply place them in an airtight container or on a plate covered with plastic wrap. They will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can you make them the night before?
Yes! If making ahead of time, I would wait to assemble them until the next day. But you can easily bake the tart shells and cook the custard the day before. The tart shells can be stored at room temperature, but the custard will need to chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to begin assembling.
More fresh fruit desserts:
Mini Fruit Tarts
For the Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter , 1 stick, cut into cubes
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
For the Custard:
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 pint fresh blueberries
- 1 pint fresh raspberries
For the Crust:
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick spray.
- Add flour, powdered sugar and salt to a food processor and process to blend. Add 1/2 cup cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Then add cold water and process just until the dough starts to stick together. If the dough is still dry, add more water by the teaspoon.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of dough into a mini muffin pan and press onto bottom and partially up sides. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Use a knife to pop out the mini tart shells. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For the Custard:
- Put milk and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the cornstarch and whisk until no lumps remain. Next whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture until incorporated. Then whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
- Pour the custard mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Immediately remove from the heat once a slow boil appears and stir in the butter. Allow to slightly cool.
- Spoon custard into the cooled crust cups and let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Top with berries and refrigerate until ready to serve.