Who does not like dessert? A little something sweet at the end of the meal? Especially a special meal? Yeah even the people who say they don’t really like sweets love a little dessert.
While I like to think myself fairly conversant in making pretty no-bake sweet endings like sorbets, ice-creams, mousses and cold confections that use them to build more elaborate desserts such as Sundaes and Jubilees, dessert baking is not my forte. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have a number of baked desserts in my repertoire (Tarte Tatin & Upside Down Cakes come to mind), but those are – shall we say – on the rustic, if delicious, side…. While a good tarte tatin is a thing to eat with gratitude, sophisticated it is not! However, many guests do remember the meal finale, not only how it tastes, but also how it looks: so grand it should be, or at least cute. A plate of fruit, no matter how fresh and how artistically presented, most often won’t do.
So… in my quest to prepare cute small desserts that I can conjure blindfolded, that can be prepared in advance if needed, that are not too heavy, and inspired by blogs such as Tartelette and Cannelle & Vanille, I am practicing small portion desserts.
Disclaimer: you really should check Helen’s blog (Tartelette) and Aran’s blog (Cannelle & Vanille) if you are interested in gorgeous, inspiring, innovative sweets of all kinds. Both Helen and Aran are professional pastry chefs who are sharing their recipes with the rest of the world. While their creations look incredible (just the photos will startle your eyes wide open), they seem accessible; nonetheless, they require finesse and a sure yet delicate touch to produce such perfect-looking confections… I said I was inspired, I did not say I was there. Helen and Aran display a dedication to and an understanding of their craft that is admirable. Me? I just want to make pretty seasonal desserts that get all eaten with a sigh of satisfaction.
I have had request for snacks too lately. Something about brownies. But I though I’d get some practice with one of the basic dough, Sweet Short Crust Pastry, a very versatile dough great for making cookies, tarts, tartelettes, and one that can substitute for puff pastry in Tarte Tatin. It can also be made in advance and rolled and shaped shortly before baking. Unlike other crust, sweet short pastry does not need to be blind-baked: the egg in the dough prevents the pastry from becoming soggy when baked with its filling.
I’ve got jams, I’ve got canned pears that was put up in the fall and I’ve got frozen berries that I picked this summer. So I made a bunch of Pear and Quince Jam Tartelettes and some Wineberry and Raspberry Jam Tartelettes. (The snack eater appreciated them!). But really any fruit and jam that are complementary will work – as well as custard and pine nuts!
Teeny Fruit and Jam Tartelettes
- Sweet Short Pastry
- Jam of choice (I use seedless raspberry jam and quince jam)
- Fruit of choice, sliced or chopped if large: I used wineberries with the raspberry jam; and finely sliced canned (poached will do) pears with the quince jam.
Exact quantities will depend on your pans’ size and depth. I used 1 pound of Sweet Short Pastry to make over 3 dozen small tartelettes.
- Divide the dough in halves (it’s easier roll). On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough (I do this between 2 sheets of parchment paper, no need to flour the paper in this case). Cut the dough in shapes to fit the tartelette pans. Carefully and delicately press the dough inside the pan (no need to butter), and cut out excess pastry with a pastry cutter or kitchen scissors. Roll the excess pastry trimmings back into a ball, and roll out again. Continue to do this until you have no more dough (By the way, excess dough can be frozen for a later use). Put all your tartelettes in a rimmed cookie sheet. If you use two cookies sheets, make sure to rotate them mid-way through baking.
- Preheat your oven to 425 F (215 C). Spread a little jam at the bottom of each tartelette, to a depth of about half the tartelette’s height. Arrange your fruit on top, artistically if you can…
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry turns golden.
- Let cool until able to handle, and use a pointed knife blade to gently pop each tartelette out of its mold.
- Let cool a little further to eat.
For 1 pound of Sweet Short Crust Pastry (enough for 2 9-inch tarts)
- 90 g (3 oz/ 1/3 cup) sugar
- 125 g (4 oz/1 stick) unsalted butter, very much softened to room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 250 g (8 oz/ 2 cups) all purpose flour
- 1 large pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
- Using a hand-held beater or in the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until pale colored and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add the egg and continue beating for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and salt, if using, and continue to mix until the dough is smooth.
- Flour a work surface. Knead pastry, pushing with the palm of the hand as if to flatten it, and then folding it back together to reform it. Continue to do this until the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a clean wet (and wrung out) dish towel, and refrigerate for 2 hours up to 3 days. If storing for more than 2 hours, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, or in a plastic bag to avoid its surface drying it out, and take out of the fridge an hour or so before using so the dough is easier to handle.
For the Recipe ONLY in PDF Format, click HERE: recipe-tiny-fruit-jam-tartelettes
Note for the Locavore Log. From the garden/hedge row: Berries. Quince, Pears & eggs:mediately local. Butter: regional/local. Flour… I wish!