Ciao Italia Family Classics
Mary Ann returns to her family's humble beginnings to bring us a treasure trove of more than 200 time-honored recipes.
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MAKES ONE DOZEN 3" TARTS
These little custard-filled tarts can be used on a wedding cookie cake, but should be made no earlier than the day before assembling the cake, since they do not store or freeze well. The tarts can be made any size from three inches (as here) to one inch. I think the miniatures look nicer on a wedding cookie cake. Place them at the top of the cake, so they won't be crushed by the heavier cookies.
2 cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, well beaten
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk, for the egg wash
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the milk, vanilla, and egg and use your hands to mix the ingredients into a smooth ball of dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, making sure there are no lumps. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the butter, place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolk and almond extract. Set the custard aside.
Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into an 11-inch circle, about1/4 inch thick. Using a 3-inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out circles of dough and press each one into the bottom and up the sides of 3 by 1 1/4-inch tart pans. Reroll the scraps and cut out additional circles. You should have 12 tart shells.
Place the tart pans on a cookie sheet. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each tart shell.
Roll out the second piece of dough and cut out 3-inch circles. Place a circle over each tart and pinch the edges closed.
With a pastry brush, paint the top of each tart with the egg wash. Refrigerate the tarts for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º F. Bake the tarts on the middle oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Remove the tarts to racks and let cool completely.
Carefully remove the tarts from the pans. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Note: If you make miniature tarts, bake for only 8 to 10 minutes. This recipe makes about 2½ dozen miniature tarts.
This recipe is from CELEBRATIONS ITALIAN STYLE by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1995.
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