Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heart-y Tarts: A Pictorial Jam

The Queen of Hearts she made some tarts...

Sometimes my ingredients go rogue on me. Most every third recipe I make has at least one ingredient that decides it wants to be bad, refuse to be used or just go rotten all together. Yesterday it was the Crisco.

The Crisco flew off my knife and landed squarely on the floor. It was obviously playing the role of antagonist.

(enter Crisco wad, 2 tbls. Resists as much as a lump of Crisco can resist being cut into cubes)

Crisco [glaring at Baker]: Take that, you piece of motherly baking tart fool!

[jumps off the knife onto the dirty kitchen mat]

Baker [gasps]: Ahh!...crap.

[Baker looks at her Mother, Mother looks back at her and they both bust out laughing. Baker grabs the camera. With grease laden fingers she attempts to take pictures, while calling the Crisco "rogue" (her new favorite word).]

The butter on the other hand was angelic. Definitely the protagonist.

(enter Butter. Butter sheepishly gazes up at the Baker, batting her eyes, happily sacrificing her life for the sake of the tarts. Baker chops Butter into 1/2" pieces...all 2 sticks of her.)

Baker [gently sighing]: Oh Butter, you're so bad for me, yet you are willing to be chopped into oblivion in the food processor, not a single word out of you like your evil twin Crisco. (One small tear trickles down Baker's cheek, then exclaims with reckless abandonment) You inspire me! You move me! I will take a picture of your fatty goodness!

[Baker gently arranges butter cubes into an artistic pile of fat in her newly acquired bowl. She giggles with glee as she photographs the perfectly cubed, obedient butter]

You're thinking, "Wow. She's really off her rolling pin." That may be true, but the tarts don't lie. They turned out to be delightful little treats that would please any Brit, Alice in Wonderland fanatic (such as myself) or anyone who enjoys making and eating tarts.

Let the pictorial drama unfold before your eyes.

that's egg wash going on right there.

creating a dam for the jam

before baking


Recipe for Pie Crust (adapted from my Cuisnart Food Processor pamphlet)

(this is the recipe for a two-crust pie, so cut it in half if you don't want to make as many tarts. Depending on your tart size, I would say this would make between 16 and 24 little tarts.)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
5-8 tbls. ice water
16 tbls. butter, cubed and well chilled
2 tbls. Crisco, cubed and well chilled
2 tbls. sugar (my addition, to make it a little sweet)
1 jar of your favorite jam. I used strawberry, but raspberry, apricot or even blueberry would be really yummy! (For my 8 little tarts that I made, I used about 1/2 cup. So, if you made the whole recipe, I guess you would use about 1 1/2 cups.)

In your food processor, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder by pulsing for 10 seconds. Add the chilled butter and shortening. Do 15-20 rapid pulses until it's like cornmeal texture. Sprinkle in 3 tbls. of ice water and pulse 5-6 times. Do this again with another 2-3 tbls. water. Add just enough water for it to come together but not ball up. It should hold together when you pinch it.

Turn it out onto a floured surface. Press it together, making it into a little disc. Wrap and chill in frig for 30 minutes. While it chills, you chill....hard work.

Roll out your dough to 1/8" thick. Cut out in what ever shapes you like. I like hearts and that other weird shape is supposed to be a playing card. Sorta free-handed that one. Anyways, choose what you like, but for all of the shapes I made little "dams" to hold in copious amounts of jam. I cut 1/4-1/2" strips to adhere around the edges of each tart. Dab on egg wash and lay it down. Follow the rest of the pictorial. Pretty easy.

I brushed the tops of the crust with egg wash for a nice golden brown. Bake your cutie tarts at 375 degrees for approx. 25 min.  Let them cool before you sneak a bite! Boiling hot jam will keep you on the injured foodie list for a while.

Cheers, Foodie Friends!
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