Michigan Grape Tarts


I rarely buy grapes in the supermarket. While they are sweet, they have no flavor. Occasionally I find Muscatel grapes at Whole Foods and those are wonderful. For the past few years I’ve found a Michigan variety of a petite, seedless grape with a lovely, delicate flavor. I believe the variety is called Candace. Each grape is the size of a hazelnut: rosy red with touches of pale green.  Right now, I am finding these grapes in my Midwest farmers market.  Go buy some and try this tart!



These little grapes make great tarts and provide a nice change from berries or stone fruits. You can make all of the components in advance and the assembled tart will hold up in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours.


  • 2.5 oz (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 5 oz unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3.5 oz 10X powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Eight 3.5″ non stick tart shells.
  1.  Slit open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Place on top of the butter. Whisk together sugar and salt. Cream butter until lightened in color and airy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in flour  just until blended. Press dough  into rectangle about one inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
  2.  If you don’t have non stick tart pans don’t worry. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and mix in 1 tablespoon of flour. Paint the tart shells with this mixture .
    Place your tins on a rimmed baking sheet. Line them up in the shape of a rectangle, two by two, with their edges touching.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it soften. Roll it between two sheets of plastic wrap, keeping the rectangular shape like the formation of your tart tins. Roll to 1/8″.  Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap and invert it over the tins. You will probably only be able to do 6 tins and then you can make the remaining two from re rolled scraps. Peel off the top layer of the plastic wrap. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tines. This will cut off the excess dough. Take a ball of dough, dipped in flour and use this to press the dough into the tins. It’s best to start at the center of the bottom and work your way around to the sides.
  4. Let chill at least another hour. Even better, freeze the shells and bake from frozen.  The tend to hold their shape better.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees farenheit. Bake the shells blind: line your tins with parchment paper or do what the ingenious Rose Levy Berenbaum suggests and use 3.5″ basket style coffee filters as liners. Line your tins and fill them to the top with pie weights or small dries beans.  Bake the tarts for 7 minutes on the rimmed sheets in the lower third of the oven. Remove them from the oven. The dough should not look raw anymore but it will still be pael. Try and gently remove the liners with the beans. If they stick put the tarts back in the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.  Pull them from the oven and try again to detach thenliners.   Once you remove the liners, lower the temperature to 375 degrees farenheit and bake until the shells a browned, roughly 13 more minutes. remove them from the oven and cool them in the tins.
  6. When they are cool, invert them. They should slip out of the pan.



  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Slit open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer and turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Scrape out the contents of the vanilla bean and mix into the milk. Discard the bean.
  3. Wisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until light and thick. Sift the flour/cornstarch mixture over the eggs and wisk until smooth.
  4. Bring the milk back to a boil. Temper the egg yolks with a little milk, wisk together and pour in the rest of the milk.
  5. Return the mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil, while wisking. When it starts to thicken whisk vigorously until it is thick, creamy and spreadable.
  6. Push it through a fine mesh sieve and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Flavor with
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. If you need it faster, put it an ice water bath


  • 4 oz Apple jelly
  1. Melt apple jelly over low flame until it is completely liquified. Set aside and reheat if necessary. It should be quite liquid when it is used.


  1. Spread each tart shell with roughly 2 tablespoons of pastry cream.
  2. Starting with the outside of the tart shell, place grapes around the perimeter. Make another circle inside that one and another until the bottom is filled. Place more grapes on top to get a mounded look.
  3. Brush a thin glaze of apple jelly over the grapes. You can decorate these tarts with edible flowers. In the photo below, I used phlox and violas.
  4. Return to the refrigerator until the jelly sets up. Serve any time after that although I do think it benefits from ripening in the fridge for an hour or two.
  5. You can enhance the flavors of this tart with a little glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a sweet wine made from Muscatel grapes.

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