Tart flavors are on trend in 2015

Granny Smith apples, Key limes and kiwifruit. These familiar fruits are just a sampling of tart-flavored options for delicious tarts, which are growing in popularity as a refreshing dessert option on the menus of bakeries and restaurants across the country.

But what other tart flavors pop into mind when bakers and pastry chefs experiment with new flavor combinations?

Tart cherries, for example, were a stand-out star at the 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show, described as a “homegrown superfruit with functional credentials.” The nutrient profile of tart cherries is not the only reason these ruby-red fruits are hotter than ever. Trend experts say tart flavors are on the rise due to consumers’ changing palate that prefers a less sweet taste. “There’s no denying the power of tart, it’s fundamental to our sense of taste,” says Stella Parks, a food blogger at BraveTart, who was named one of Food & Wine’s 2012 Best New Pastry Chefs. “People crave the excitement of sour flavors. Tart cherries are a natural match for desserts.”

Other examples of tart fruits include Winesap apples, a well-known American heirloom apple that is tart, tangy and very firm. Winesap apples, primarily used for baking and cooking, are great for apple pies because of their distinct flavor and hold their shape well during baking. This variety makes a great apple streusel tart, for the same reason.

Acclaimed restaurant chef/owner Alice Waters of Chez Panisse offers an appetizing idea for a granny smith apple tart in which the filling calls for 910 grams of sliced tart apples, 30 grams of unsalted butter and 65 grams of sugar.

Overlap apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from the edge if doing a galette, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself, and crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

Then brush melted butter over the apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. Bake in the center of your oven until apples are soft, with browned edges and the crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate the tart every 15 minutes. 

Going Green

Kiwifruit is another versatile fruit that adds colorful presentation and tangy flavor to delicious tarts. Pair thin slices of kiwifruit with lime curd filling to create a sensational and refreshing dessert during the spring and summer months. Available from California from October through May, California kiwifruit is available during the winter months, an uncommon time for the "homegrown" California fresh fruits. California produces around 98% of the kiwifruit grown in the US.

Back when Isabel Fraser brought New Zealand’s first kiwifruit seeds over from China in 1904, the fruits were known by the Chinese name, yang tao, but New Zealanders soon a local term, calling the furry fruits Chinese gooseberries. In 1959, the name Chinese gooseberry was changed again, becoming kiwifruit, after New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi – small, brown and furry, like the fruit. The decision was made when New Zealand growers were ready to export kiwifruit to North America. They needed a term that would help establish the new fruit in the newly opening American export market and elsewhere around the world.

Zespri Green Kiwifruit was introduced to North America in the early 1960s.The fruit is grown in New Zealand with both conventional and organic methods and is available in North America from May through November.