When you think ratatouille, you're likely either thinking of a Provençal vegetable stew or a joy-inducing cartoon rat movie star. But in their first cookbook Husbands That Cook, Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin introduce us to a new kind of dish: one made from fruit that reads like a new take on a fruit tart.
For year-round fruits, they suggest ½ a cantaloupe, 1 to 2 mangoes and 2 to 3 kiwis. In the warmer months, go for a couple nectarines or peaches, a cup of strawberries and 2 to 3 plums or apricots. And for fall or winter, combine a few each of apples, persimmons and pears, plus a squeeze of lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
From Husbands That Cook. Copyright © 2018 by Ryan Alvarez and Adam Merrin and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Press.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling time
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus chilling time
For the Vanilla Custard Cream:
2 cups half-and-half
8 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
⅛ teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Crust:
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 9 whole crackers, or one sleeve)
¼ cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Garnish:
5 to 6 whole fruits (see recipe headnote)
1 fruit of choice, cut into a rose shape (see note)
1 to 2 tablespoons jelly of your choice (see note)
1. Make the custard cream: In a small saucepan, stir together the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and salt over medium-high heat until simmering.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add the cornstarch and whisk until completely smooth.
3. Once the half-and-half mixture is simmering, take a ladleful of the hot liquid and slowly drizzle it into the bowl with the egg yolks as you whisk vigorously. Repeat with another ladleful. Then pour the contents of the bowl back into the simmering saucepan, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and stir for another 30 seconds until thickened and bubbly, then remove from heat and quickly add the cubed butter and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth and evenly blended. Let cool slightly, then transfer the custard cream to a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly on the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours, or overnight.
4. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter, and stir until evenly combined. Transfer to a 10-inch oven-safe skillet or round baking dish, and press the crumbs firmly into the bottom and about ½ -inch up the sides, creating a crust. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, then cool completely.
5. Assemble the dish: Select 5 to 6 different fruits of different colors, depending on what is available and in season. Peel them if needed—like kiwis, mangoes, or cantaloupe—and remove any seeds or pits. Cut the fruits in half, then slice them into ⅛-inch-thin half-moon slices. For fruit that turns brown quickly— such as apples and pears—dip the slices in lemon juice to retain their color.
6. Spread the custard cream evenly over the cooled graham cracker crust. Decide on which order you want to layer your fruit, then begin placing the fruit slices in a repeating pattern around the edge of the skillet, packing them in snugly. Once the outer circle is complete, start a second row closer to the center of the pan without overlapping. Once that row is complete, there will still be some space in the middle. You can fill it with another small row of fruit slices, or you can make a fruit rose (see note).
7. Place a few tablespoons of jelly in a heatproof bowl, then microwave it in short 10-second bursts until the jelly is liquefied (alternatively, you can do this on the stove in a small pan). Brush the surface of the fruit slices lightly with the glaze until shiny. Garnish with mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a day, and enjoy.
• Brushing the fruit with melted jelly gives it a glossy shine. Pick any flavor you like, but be sure to buy jelly (which is clear and made from fruit juice) and not jam (which has bits of fruit in it).
• To make a fruit rose, first select a soft fruit that will bend well when thinly sliced, such as a nectarine, mango, or kiwi. Cut the fruit in half and remove the seed as needed. Place one half flat-side-down on a large cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice it into thin 1/16-inch slices, keeping the slices together as you cut. Slowly slide the slices across each other, fanning them out until they make a long line of overlapping slices. Starting at one end, gently roll the slices up until they form a spiral rose shape.