Assorted Savory Tarts

Assorted Savory Tarts

Most of the work required for these tarts is in molding and baking the shells, but these can be mass produced and stored for months in plastic bags in the freezer. I like to serve them with a variety of fillings; the three that are included below can all be prepared well in advance, and the tarts may be assembled a couple of hours ahead, but they should be served straight from the oven.

Roll out the cold dough between two sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8 in., dusting with flour as necessary. Press into lightly greased miniature tart pans. (Remnants may be again formed into a ball, rechilled if necessary, and rolled out again.) Perforate the bottoms of shells with a fork. Line with aluminum foil, fill with pie weights, and chill. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375° F. (Shells should be partially cooked.) Remove from pans and cool.

Arrange the shells on a baking sheet and fill as directed below. Bake at 375° F. for 15 minutes.

Pâte Brisée (for 25-30 miniature tarts)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp. margarine
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Iced water

Mix the flour and salt in a food processor with a steel blade. Cut the butter and margarine into small pieces, add to the processor, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water 1 tbsp. at a time, pulsing, just until the dough is moist enough to be formed into a ball. (This should take 6-8 tbsp. of water.) Wrap the ball in a damp towel and refrigerate.

Onion Filling

  • 2 lb. yellow onions
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Chopped fresh herb (e.g., thyme or sage)
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 egg yolk

Peel the onions and cut in half from top to bottom. Cut each half into 1/4-in. strips, parallel to the axis. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions, salt, and sugar. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Add the vinegar and continue cooking for 20 minutes more. Add the herb and pepper and correct the seasoning with salt and vinegar as needed. Allow the filling to cool. Just before using, mix with the egg yolk and cream, lightly beaten together in a bowl. Fill partially cooked tarts shells and bake.

Mushroom and Gruyère Filling

  • 1 lb. small mushrooms
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup fortified wine (e.g., Madeira)
  • Chopped fresh herb (e.g., tarragon)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated gruyère

Wash the mushrooms, pat dry with paper towel, cut into quarters, and toss with lemon juice. Peel and mince the shallots. Heat the butter and oil in a wide saucepan. Add the shallots, mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated. Add the wine and herb and continue to cook as the flavors are absorbed. Just before using, mix (cooled) the filling with the egg yolk and cream, lightly beaten together in a bowl. Spoon into partially cooked tarts shells, cover with cheese, and bake.

Stilton, Walnut, and Pear Filling

  • 1/2 lb. Stilton
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 ripe pear
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 egg yolk

Crumble the Stilton, roughly chop the walnuts, and cream together with cayenne. Peel and core the pear, chop roughly, and toss with lemon juice. Lightly beat the egg yolk and cream. Spoon the cheese mixture and the pears into partially cooked tart shells, cover with the custard, and bake.