Birthday Fruit Tart: Pine Nut & Butter Crust Filled with Vanilla Almond Custard, Topped with Fresh Fruit


It’s my wonderful Mom’s birthday today! And, per new tradition of the past few years, I ask her what she wants as her birthday dessert. This year, her request was a fruit tart! She always begs me to keep it simple (and even suggests I buy at least part of it premade). But, from scratch (in my opinion) is always better if you can do it. And this definitely beats the days of running into the grocery store with my Dad and brother trying to scout out a premade dessert to bring home for her. Although it is a few different steps, it really isn’t super complicated and (I assure you) tastes as good as it looks! The perfect surprise for someone special in your life.

Makes 1 Tart (I use an 11-inch Tart Pan)

Recipe by © Alysha Melnyk 2018

Kitchen Tools:

Oven, Preheated to 350°F

Tart Pan (I use this one)

Cooling Rack

Stand Mixer

Small Bowl

Rolling Pin

Medium Sauce Pan

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Cups

Liquid Measuring Cup


Mixing Spoon or Rubber Spatula

*Optional: Mini Heart Cutter (I have this set)


*Disclaimer – I am including certain brand names of things I use (just because they are personal favorites of mine), but feel free to use whatever brand you like, is the cheapest, is on sale, what you have on hand, etc.*

For the Tart Crust:

1 Egg Yolk

2 Tablespoons Cold Water

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract (If you don’t have pure almond extract, feel free to use another teaspoon of pure vanilla extract)

1 and 1/4 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

8 Tablespoons Pine Nuts, Chopped/Smashed (You can use the rolling pin, meat mallet, food processor, etc. to do this) ***You can also substitute another nut or omit this step.

1/3 Cup Sugar

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

8 Tablespoons Cold Unsalted Butter (Chopped into very small pieces)

For the Vanilla Almond Custard:

1/2 Cup Sugar

3 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

4 Egg Yolks

3 Cups Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1 Teaspoon Pure Almond Extract (*Once again, if you don’t have pure almond extract, feel free to use another teaspoon of pure vanilla extract – this will make the custard solely vanilla)

For Topping:

1 Large Container Strawberries, Chopped Up Into Small Pieces

2 Small Containers Blackberries, Chopped Into Small Pieces (If desired)

Mango Fruit Strips, Cut into Hearts

***You can use ANY fruit of your choice/toppings for this step (these are just my Mom’s favorites)


For Tart Crust:

  1. Position heating racks in the middle of the oven.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. In a small bowl, mix egg yolk, cold water, pure almond extract and pure vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Add flour, salt, sugar and pine nuts to stand mixer bowl and mix.
  5. Next, add in chopped butter to stand mixer bowl and mix (make sure no large pieces of butter remain – you can use your hands to help break big hunks as well). Mixture should look coarse.
  6. Add in egg mixture and mix until dough combines.
  7. Flour work surface, and transfer dough to surface. Form into a ball.
  8. Roll out dough flat using a rolling pin, and flour the top lightly.
  9. Next, take thin pieces of the flattened dough and form into tart pan using hands. The dough is delicate, but easy to press and form/combine in the pan.
  10. Once the tart is formed in the pan, use a fork to prick small holes all over the base of the tart. Then place the tart in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. After 20 minutes, sit tart pan on a cooling rack and let cool while preparing other parts of the tart.

For Vanilla Almond Custard:

  1. Add sugar, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and milk into the medium saucepan.
  2. Place on medium heat and whisk (pretty much constantly, with 10 second breaks on and off) until thickened. Mine took a little over 10 minutes to reach the perfect consistency.
  3. When the custard has thickened, remove from heat and add butter, pure vanilla extract and pure almond extract. Whisk until combined and butter is melted.
  4. Move custard to a bowl and cover with a piece of parchment paper placed directly on the custard (prevents custard skin from forming) and cover with additional plastic wrap or foil, then chill for two hours (if planning on eating immediately after filling the tart) or for a half hour (if placing in tart and then chilling the whole thing for a few hours before serving).

For Toppings:

  1. Chop berries/fruit of choice to preferred size for topping.
  2. *Optional: Cut fruit strips into cute designs to decorate the top.

Putting it All Together:

  1. Pop the cooled tart gently out of the pan (should come out easily) and place on plate/serving ware of choice.
  2. Use a spoon or dessert spatula to scoop and smooth the vanilla almond custard in the tart.
  3. Decorate with berries and any additional touches.
  4. Chill entire tart, or (if vanilla almond custard is chilled and ready to eat), eat right away and then refrigerate leftovers.
  5. If chilling tart then eating it, I recommend letting it warm up a bit after chilling (maybe a half-hour or so).
  6. Enjoy! 🙂

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