Mini Tart Shells
Whenever i have an occasion coming up, the first thing that comes to my mind is making mini tarts. So i prepare the mini tart shells few days prior to the occasion, and keep them in a food-grade container ready to be filled.
Mini tarts are easy to make, versatile whether sweet or savory and they look absolutely adorable !!
Here i will give the basic recipe for making mini tart shells using pâte brisée (shortcrust pastry) because it is such a flaky pastry that falls apart easily when eaten.
Note: it’s very important that all the ingredients are kept cold all the time in order to obtain a flaky crust.
200 g All-Purpose flour
100 g cold butter (cut into small cubes)
50 g sugar
4 tbsp ice-cold water
1/4 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
2. Add the sugar and the salt to the flour and combine using a whisk then add the butter cubes, using your finger tips incorporate the butter into the flour making sure to coat all the flour particles with butter as shown below :
Some pieces of butter should be the size of peas, while others should be much smaller after they are coated in flour.
The larger pieces help with making a flaky crust and the smaller pieces help keep your crust tender by coating the proteins with fat and preventing the formation of gluten.
3. Add the cold water to the egg yolk and mix using a fork.
4. make a well in the flour and add the egg mixture.
5. Using your fingers mix the egg yolk mixture with the flour.
6. Don’t over mix or you will end up with a very stiff dough and we certainly don’t want that, the less you mix the dough, the less gluten will be formed and the flakier the shortcrust pastry will be.
7. Shape the dough into a disk with the side of your hand.
8. Place the disk in zip-top bag and keep it in the fridge for at least half an hour or up to a week, you can also freeze it up to one month but the taste will be milder.
9. Start rolling the out on a lightly floured work surface. Always roll out the dough from the center out, rather than back and forth, to prevent gluten formation. Give the dough a quarter turn every few rolls to prevent it from sticking to your work surface.
10. Cut round shapes of the dough using a cookie cutter for example the size of your mini tart pan
11. Place each round into one of the tartlet depressions.
12. Press the center of the dough towards the sides of the depression until you reach the top of the sides using your thumb.
Note: you can add more dough pieces if the tart shell was thinner than how you want it but don’t add too much as it will puff in the oven.
13. Prick the bottom with a fork, and at this stage it’s preferable to freeze the tart shells before baking for about half an hour so they don’t shrink in the oven and to make sure that the butter is firm.
14. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until nicely browned on 350°F.
This method is called blind baking, meaning that you bake your crust before filling it with the desired filling to prevent it from being soggy, and it’s useful especially when using wet fillings.