Monday, April 07, 2008

sunday supper: tiny tarts

Is anyone tired of tarts yet? I mix things up a bit with these tiny tarts, inspired by a recipe for Vintage Jam Tarts that I saw on 101 Cookbooks. They didn't exactly turn out how I hoped - far more bready than flaky pastry - because I was dumping on the flour to try to make the dough easier to handle.

It was kind of just a sticky mess, I've adjusted the recipe to try to account for that. But I did really like the cornmeal, it added just the smallest bit of graininess for a different texture. It was also not sweet. Pretty much all of the sweetness comes from the jam, and that works for me. The night before we had gotten a piece of chocolate cake from a cafe down the street and it was so sweet that we couldn't even eat more than a bite each. We're not big on super sweet desserts.

This recipe made an enormous number of tarts. I think it could easily be halved. I thought I was pushing the boundaries of my cuisinart when I was making the dough. I did half with apricot jam (above), and the other half with blackberry jam (below). I ended up preferring the apricot because it has that touch of tartness which makes for a more well-rounded flavor. Recipe after the jump:

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 cup finely-ground cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons finely ground sea salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1+ cups milk
1 egg, just the egg white
1/3 cup jam (any flavor(s) you like)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Into a large bowl, or preferably, a food processor add the cornmeal, flours, salt, baking powder, sugar. To the dry ingredients add the butter. Using a pastry cutter or 30-35 quick pulses of the food processor, blend the mixture until it resembles tiny, sandy pebbles.

Slowly add the milk and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. You are going to roll out the dough, so if it is too wet, add in a couple extra tablespoons of flour, if it is too dry add in an extra tablespoon or two of milk. You don't want to overwork the dough, or your tarts will be tough, so pulse only as much as you have to.

Dump the dough out onto a well-floured surface, pull it together into one large mound, and roll out until it is about 1/3-inch thick. Pat with more flour if things get sticky - sticky dough is your enemy in this recipe. Cut the biscuit dough with a medium cutter (the one I used was about 2 1/4 inches across), then cut half the rounds with a slightly smaller cutter.

Brush the large rounds with a bit of egg white, place the outer rings on top, brush those with the egg white, and fill with a bit of jam.

Place the tarts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool.

Makes about 1 - 2 dozen tarts, depending on the size of your cutters.

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