A Royally Sweet Pair of Tartlets

April 28, 2011
7 Comments

StrawberryTart2

Well, as much as I hate to admit it.  It looks like I was not invited to the Royal Wedding.  Clearly this was an oversight, but with the massive amount of required planning and details for Kate and William’s big day, someone was bound to make a mistake sooner or later.  Completely understandable.  They probably sent the invite to my old address.

It’s really too bad.  I was looking forward to doing The Electric Slide with Queen Elizabeth during the reception.  Oh, well.  It probably wasn’t meant to be, since I don’t have a super large, super fabulous hat to wear anyhow.

I still vaguely remember getting up early in the morning on July 29, 1981 to watch the pretty princess in the meringue-like dress with the really long train.  That’s about all that I remember.  I was six.  Friends of my parents were in London during the event, and they brought back a souvenir “Royal Wedding Album” for me, which sold back then for a whopping 1.5 English pounds.  The pictures are all very grainy, and the fashions are nothing short of hideous, even for the 80s.  Apparently, the Royal Stylists were not available for the event.  Even so, I used to pore over the pages again and again, evidenced by the worn edges.

This time around, since I am on PST, the event coverage starts at something like 1 a.m.  ALL SIX HOURS OF COVERAGE.  Thank goodness for my DVR.

ButterscotchTart1
Like many other bloggers out there, I felt compelled to give a nod to the Happy Royal Couple by baking something British.  That said, the Brits aren’t exactly known for creating desserts that knock your socks off.  Plum Pudding?  It just doesn’t look appetizing.  Mincemeat Pie?  Sorry, but I prefer my desserts without mutton.   Spotted Dick?   C’mon.

I wasn’t completely out of options though.  I do enjoy a buttery, slightly salty English shortbread, and I would never turn down a rich, caramelized butterscotch pudding.  So I played around with some flavor pairings in my head, and I came up with ideas for the two recipes featured in this post:  Strawberry Tartlets with Cinnamon Cream and Peanut Butter Shortbread Crusts, and Butterscotch Tartlets with Banana Nut Shortbread Crusts.  One of these days, I’m going to win that World’s Longest Recipe Title Award.

The first recipe is obviously a nod to peanut butter and jelly, while the second is kind of a play on banoffee pie.  The flavored shortbread I had never attempted before, so I just tweaked ingredient amounts until I achieved the right texture.  While both shortbread bake up a little bit softer than a traditional butter shortbread, they taste fan-freakin-tas-tic.

I also played around with various serving sizes:  mini muffin tins, creme brulee dishes, brioche pans.  You can really use whatever you have on hand.  Ultimately, I think that I like the mini muffin tins best, since they produce adorable tartlets that are only one or two bites.  Perfect for a princess.

StrawberryTart6
Before I get to the recipe, and my extra “tips”, I have a few housekeeping items to go over.  Bear with me!:

  • One of the flavors in my line of granola, Sweet Citrus, was just nominated for a Vegetarian Times 2011 Foodie Award (yee-haw!)  The winner is determined by votes, so I would REALLY appreciate your vote.  Everyone who votes will be eligible for a $250 Whole Foods gift card!!  You can vote by clicking here, and I don’t think that you need to vote for EVERY category to enter (Just be sure to vote for the granola category.  And by “vote”, I mean “vote for Julie Anne’s Sweet Citrus.”)  Thank you very much!!
  • For those of you in Vegas, I will be judging the Aetna Healthy Food Fight at Town Square this Sunday, May 1, from 11-6.  This is a really fun cook-off if you want to come out and watch.  Since I won this last year, the Aetna folks invited me to come back and be a judge.  Hmmmm….. Tasting 24 delicious and healthy dishes????  Twist my arm.

O.K.!  Now, here are my extra tips for preparing this decadent duo of desserts: StrawberryTart3

  • Both recipes can be adjusted for different sizes of tart shells.  I have shown a few examples of the various sizes that I used in the photos above and below.  Of course, you will need to adjust baking time for the crusts according to the size.
  • Here is a MUCH EASIER variation on the strawberry tart recipe (see photo to the right).  This one doesn’t even use the cinnamon cream!:  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Press the dough as directed into the mini muffin tins.  Trim small to medium sized strawberries, and then score them into quarters.  Place the strawberries upright in the tart shells, and lightly sprinkle them with sugar.  Bake the tarts for 12-15 minutes until the crusts are dark golden brown and the strawberries have softened.  Be sure to keep an eye on the crusts so that they don’t burn!
  • If you prefer a stronger cinnamon flavor, use the ground cinnamon in the cinnamon cream recipe.  Use of the cinnamon sticks will result in a mild flavor.
  • Both shortbread crusts are softer than your standard tart crust.  If you think that you might have difficulty removing them from the baking pan or the tart shell without breaking, just place them in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm them up.  This makes removal much easier!

Strawberry Tartlets with Cinnamon Cream and Peanut Butter Shortbread Crust

Makes 25-30 bite-sized tarts  

Ingredients:

For the Peanut Butter Shortbread Crust

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup finely ground roasted peanuts StrawberryTart5

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Cinnamon Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk

2 cinnamon sticks -or- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries (Small to medium sizes work best)

Prepare the shortbread dough:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the peanut butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 minutes.  Add both sugars, and continue to beat for 1 minute more.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground peanuts, and salt.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, continuing to mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a flat disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Prepare the cinnamon cream:  Place the milk and the cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  While the milk is heating, whisk the cornstarch with the sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the eggs to the cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth.  Slowly add half of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to slowly heat (or temper) the eggs.  Then, pour the heated egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium-low.  Stir the mixture constantly until it just comes to a boil and thickens.  Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl (discard cinnamon sticks, if using), and cover the surface with plastic wrap.  Chill until cold, about 3 hours.

Prepare the tarts (please see notes above about different sizes and variations):  Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  Remove the chilled shortbread from the refrigerator.  Break off a piece of the dough and roll into a ball about 1-inch in diameter.  Press the ball into a mini muffin tin cup, shaping it so that the sides are slightly higher than the tin.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  Bake the crusts until they are golden brown, 15-18 minutes.  If the dough puffs up during the baking process, carefully press it back into shape using the back of a small spoon or an offset spatula.  Allow the crusts to cool completely in the tins.

Transfer the crusts to a work space.  Remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator and stir to loosen.  Transfer the cream to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip and pipe the cream into the center of the crusts (you can also use a spoon.)  Top the cream decoratively with strawberry slices, and serve!

 

Butterscotch Tartlets with Banana Nut Shortbread Crusts

Makes 25-30 bite-sized tarts

Ingredients:

For the Banana-Nut Shortbread Crust

2 cups flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely ground pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup banana puree (about 2 small bananas) ButterscotchTart2

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Butterscotch Filling

2 cups whole milk

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon bourbon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons butter, cubed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Prepare the shortbread dough:  In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, cinnamon, salt, and ground pecans.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the banana puree on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add both sugars, and continue to beat for 1 minute more.  Beat in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, continuing to mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a flat disk.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Bake the crusts (NOTE:  For this recipe, you must bake the crusts prior to making the filling.  The filling is poured into the crusts while still hot, and it sets as it cools.): Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  Remove the chilled shortbread from the refrigerator.  Break off a piece of the dough and roll into a ball about 1-inch in diameter.  Press the ball into a mini muffin tin cup, shaping it so that the sides are slightly higher than the tin.  Repeat with the rest of the dough.  Bake the crusts until they are golden brown, 15-18 minutes.  If the dough puffs up during the baking process, carefully press it back into shape using the back of a small spoon or an offset spatula.  Allow the crusts to cool completely in the tins.

Prepare the butterscotch filling:  Place the milk, nutmeg, and bourbon in a medium saucepan and stir to mix.   Bring the mixture to a simmer.  While the milk is heating, whisk the brown sugar with the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl.  Add the eggs to the cornstarch mixture and whisk until smooth.  Slowly add half of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to slowly heat (or temper) the eggs.  Then, pour the heated egg mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium-low.  Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.  Divide the filling among the prepared tart shells and chill until set (time will depend on tart size.)  Garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream and serve!

 

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7 Responses to A Royally Sweet Pair of Tartlets
  1. Everything looks so great! I can’t ever make anything look as perfect as you can. I’m envious of your skills.

    I’m going to go vote for you! I have a feeling you’re going to win.

  2. Thanks so much, Emily, but I completely disagree!  Your creations always look fantastic, and you come up with so many unique flavor combinations.  Plus, your photography skills are MUCH better than mine are!!  Thank you for the vote……fingers crossed!

  3. Nice to see you back at blogging!

  4. Thanks, Lisa!  Its been a BUSY few months for me.  Im hoping to return to at least a weekly post from now on (hoping is the key word)!

  5. These tartlets are so adorable! I also set my DVR for the wedding coverage…so much fun to watch!

  6. Thanks, Kristina!   To say that I watched some wedding coverage would be a massive understatement.  Now, I am obsessed with the idea of fascinators (or I am fascinated with the idea of fascinators!)  Hope you are well :)

  7. I am so with you! I think we should make an effort to bring giant, inappropriate hats to the US. Mine might involve a rolling pin or a large fork sticking out the top :)


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