In the summer, I don’t like to spend a lot of time baking or fussing with my desserts (I do enough of that during the course of my work day). I prefer to take advantage of the bounty of fresh, ripe berries available and let their flavor be the focus. I also don’t have a problem lightening my workload
by taking a shortcut or two, like buying store-bought puff pastry. I call this simple dessert a tartlet, but it’s really nothing more than a round of baked puff pastry that has not been allowed to rise, and which is then topped with a lemon pastry cream and quartered strawberries. The pastry rounds can be
prepared a day in advance (as long as it’s not too humid), and stored in an airtight container. The pastry cream can be prepared up to 3 days in advance – just don’t fold in the whipped cream until you’re ready to assemble the tartlets, or the cream may weep (and so will you). You can
change up the flavors here, in the pastry cream and in your choice of fruit topping. For the pastry cream, you can even substitute a fruit puree for 1 cup of the milk in the recipe, and top with an appropriate berry or fruit mate. A peach or plum pastry cream topped with thin slices of the fruit would be lovely, for example. If you do decide to use a fruit puree, reduce the lemon zest to 1 teaspoon.