A freshly baked tart is a beautiful thing, no matter what flavor it comes in. Every tart, from decadent chocolate to rustic fruit galettes, can be dressed up or down to suit the occasion that you’re serving it for. These five (easy!) finishing touches will help you make any tart look a little bit fancier and make every dessert just a little bit more special.
1. Jam Glaze
The most classic finishing touch is used primarily on fruit tarts, a jam glaze. Warm up a few tablespoons of apricot or peach jam in the microwave, then brush it onto the fruit topping your tart. The jam should be fairly runny and should add a nice shine — as well as a bit of sweetness — to your tart.
You can see on the raspberries below that the glazed one (left) is shinier and smoother than the unglazed (right).
Be sure to warm up the glaze, as it will look a bit heavy if it goes on too thick. Some commercial bakeries are very heavy-handed on their glazes (which use ingredients other than just melted jam) and it ends up taking away from the filling. Neither peach nor apricot jam have a strong flavor, so the flavor of the fruit will always come through.
2. Caramel Drizzle
Caramel sauce with a sprinkle of salt is almost a dessert in its own right, but it can elevate a tart by adding new layers of flavor to every bite.
I start by plating my tart on the dish I intend to serve it on, then generously drizzle the caramel sauce over the whole thing, getting both the filling and the crust. A small sprinkle of sea salt is the finishing touch.
The drizzle makes a beautiful plate decoration, but the combination really adds a beautiful sweet + savory note to the filling that can make a good tart even more memorable.
The same drizzling technique can be done with chocolate sauce or a fruit coulis, as well.
3. Flavored Whipped Cream
I often serve tarts with a dollop of whipped cream, and one way to elevate it is to give it some flavor. Vanilla is an obvious choice, but you can whisk in a few spoonfuls of fruit puree, caramel sauce or chocolate sauce to give your whipped cream a little extra flavor. Berry purees, like the strawberry pictured here, add a nice additional boost of fruitiness to a fruit tart. Orange zest can give a lovely contrast to whipped cream for a chocolate dessert.
4. Chocolate Curls
All tart fillings can benefit from a little chocolate! To make chocolate curls, you will need a vegetable peeler and a bar of chocolate.
Firmly run the peeler down the edge of the chocolate bar and a curl of chocolate will form. You’ll have to adjust the pressure to suit your peeler and your chocolate, or you might end up with chocolate shavings (which also look and taste delicious).
I find that white chocolate and milk chocolate form neater curls than dark chocolate, so keep that in mind when choosing a chocolate bar. The chocolate can be shaved directly onto the tart or onto a separate plate, then simply sprinkled into place.
5. Sugared Berries
Sugared berries are nothing more than berries that have been coated in sugar to give them a crystallized appearance. Easy as that!
Some recipes call for brushing the fruit with a lightly beaten egg white before tossing them in sugar, but I prefer to simply dampen the exterior of the fruit with a little water or juice, then sprinkle sugar on top. If you want to go with the egg method, try to use pasteurized egg whites (the carton style is fine) instead of raw eggs, especially if your tart is going to sit out for a while before serving.
Here, I brushed the raspberries with water then sprinkled them with sugar. I arranged them bottom-side up on a cutting board and separated them, so there was plenty of space to work with, then let the berries dry completely before transferring them to the tart. They make a lovely border for any filling when placed around the outer edge of the crust.