Monday, April 12, 2010

hazelnut tart cherry tartelettes

pie dough is much blogged about, and very controversial. i side in the butter camp. i do have a bucket of lard in the house, and i'm not afraid to use it, especially in savory applications. when it comes to pie crusts, however, i don't like the aftertaste of lard in there. there's a greasy mouthfeel that joe pastry doesn't like either. have you met joe pastry? it's a great resource for any beginning baker. there's recipes for every dough on this earth, and detailed instructions for the techniques used in all of them. how's about pie dough in a ziploc bag? it's the first i've heard about it! of course, true to form, i remain faithful to my food processor, but go here to see this interesting approach. and even if i scorned the bag, i tried the recipe, which is lard-free and boasts a combo of butter and cream cheese, and it is very good.

for the crust:
12 tb unsalted butter, very cold, in 1/2 inch cubes
10 oz all-purpose flour
4.5 oz cream cheese
1/4 ts salt
1/4 ts baking powder
1 tb cider vinegar
2 to 3 tb ice water

either you do it in the bag like joe, or by hand like grandma, or in the food processor like me. i am very happy with the result, i see no reason to waste time, so i pulse it start to finish. first combine the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of your processor. then add the cream cheese to the flour and pulse a few times to get a coarse meal. then add the butter - very cold, frozen even - and pulse a few times more, until you have butter pieces the size of peas. then add the vinegar and ice water by the tablespoon and pulse just until it comes together. refrigerate for at least 2 hours to overnight.

when it's ready, split the dough in 2 equal pieces. while the second piece waits in the fridge, roll out the first one in a 10 inch circle. then you want to cut to size circles to fit the mini-muffin tin. none of my cookie cutters worked, so i've had to improvise. a circle of about 2 1/2 inches diameter is required. line all the muffin spaces with dough and refrigerate. proceed to the second one in the same manner, or make a tart using a removable bottom quiche pan. refrigerate that one, too.

for the filling:
a half recipe of hazelnut frangipane
1 1/2 lbs tart montmorency cherries/ 5 cups/ 680 gr
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 ts orange extract (almond extract works equally well)
3 tb cornstarch

i used frozen fruit. it is impossible to get fresh sour cherries in chicago. last summer i found some at trader joe's, but they were so puny looking i didn't even bother. anyhoo, if frozen defrost in a colander. if from compote, drain well. mix the sugar with the cornstarch. put the cherries in a pot, add the extract, then the sugar mixture, and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. the filling will thicken as it cools.

for the pastry cream:
4 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 ts orange extract

heat up the milk, the heavy cream, the extract and the sugar. split the bean and scrape up the seeds. put everything in the milk to infuse. mix the yolks with the sifted cornstach until smooth and pale. when the milk is just below boiling fish out the bean and pour 1/4 of the mixture on the yolks, while whisking constantly. pour it back in the milk and stir like yout life depends on it. keep stirring until in thickens, about 5 minutes. set aside to cool.

to assemble, take out the muffin tins. put 1 ts hazelnuts in each, then top with a cherry and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. let cool a few minutes and fill the remaining space with pastry cream.
the pastry is sufficient for two 10 inch tarts, or 48 tartelettes. i made one 10 inch tart and 24 little ones. the cherry filling fits those. if you want to make 48 tartelettes, probably half the recipe will be enough. those are great for little kids. they are a little labor intensive though, and i was short on time, hence the 10 inch shortcut. i do prefer the little ones, there's more crust, it's crispy and flaky and a great contrast to the creamy filling.


  1. What a splendid recipe! Love these made-from-scratch tartlettes. They look perfect!

  2. Dana, I'm so with you on the lard issue. I just don't like the mouthfeel from pastries and cakes made with it. I've taken to making pastry cream and lemon curds in the microwave - massively easier (there are recipes on my blog). I kept curdling them on the stove!

    Your baby tartlets look too cute for words.. :)


  3. Dana,daca nu e cu suparare,ai un premiu la mine pe blog!

  4. celia, thanks for the microwave tip!

    stefana, multumesc frumos!

  5. Dana: great stuff. But I have to part company with you on the lard front. I grew up on lard pie crusts--and I'm not going back! Still, I do love a good butter crust. With the hazelnuts, it makes me swoon.

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