Wednesday, February 20, 2013
You may have noticed from most of my columns that I have a raging sweet tooth. It’s a little hard to keep under control, especially during times of stress. I think I’ve found a way around it, though.
The way I see it, smaller serving sizes means that I can gloat about eating three fruit tarts without consuming the 9,000 calories that come with the full-sized versions. To that end, and also because my friend Terri gave me a jar of yummy lemon curd, I decided to make these little lemon-ginger tarts with chocolate.
You can use white, wheat or a gluten-free flour mix, depending on your personal preference. Measure one cupful into a medium bowl. Stir in two tablespoons of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
Using a pastry blender or clean hands, rub in 6 tablespoons of butter. Mash it all together until you have a ball of dough, smearing it back and forth through your hands to ensure that the butter is blended in really well. Add another half cup of your chosen flour and squish the dough around until all of the flour is incorporated. Add an egg and repeat the squishing process.
You should now have a nice, smooth dough in your mixing bowl. Actually, it’ll probably be pretty shaggy because of the moisture, but there shouldn’t be any lumps or bumps in it. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, fold it up tightly, and flatten it into a thick disc. Toss it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and dig out your mini-muffin pan. Yeah, the one that’s been hiding in the back of the cupboard, wondering if it’ll ever see the light of day. Break off small chunks of chilled dough and press them into each muffin cavity. Shape the dough up the sides, but be careful to avoid spreading it too thinly. You’ll get about 16 tarts from this recipe.
If we bake the dough as-is, we’ll wind up with weird little muffins instead of shells, so we have to be clever. Pop a mini-cupcake liner into each cavity, on top of the dough. Fill each liner with dried pinto beans. This will give just enough shape and weight to the dough, preventing it from puffing into oblivion. Bake for eight minutes.
Remove the beans and liners and drop a half-teaspoon of miniature semisweet chocolate chips into each tart shell. Put the pan back into the still-hot oven for two more minutes, then remove the pan and let it cool on a rack.
Once your shells have cooled, spoon a little lemon curd into each one. Chill them in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes before serving. You can change things up a bit by using custard or fruit pastry filling for variety. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight box.