Making tartlets gives unlimited choices and flexibility both in their size and fillings combinations. I also like the opportunity to bake pastry shells in advance, store them in air-tight containers, and only assemble tartlets on the day, or when just needed.
Traditionally, I make orange marmalade and vanilla cream tarts as one of the desert options for Christmas lunch. Two new preserves I started to make lately, lemon curd and raspberry chia jam, allowed me to create new quite light combinations for bite size tartlets.
I use two different type of dough to make pastry shells. Sweet shortcrust pastry is the best, when thick orange marmalade or another dense filling, such as dried fruit paste, is used as the bottom layer. Tartlet shells from Napoleon pastry are excellent when soft and moist fillings are used for the bottom layer of tartlets. Lemon curd is one of those soft fillings I favour the most.
The second layer or topping, is usually whipped cream with vanilla, or vanilla cream mixed and whipped with berry and chia jams. Chia jams give extra firm consistency to vanilla cream, add colour and flavour. Pistachio nuts and shaved dark chocolate make tartlets especially pretty.
Christmas Orange Marmalade and Vanilla Cream Tartlets with Berries
Pastry shells are baked 2-4 days in advance from shortcrust pastry. They can be stored for 1-5 days in air-tight glass container remaining dry. Thick orange marmalade can be made even months in advance. Sugar quantity added to whipped cream depends on the sweetness of the bottom layer and can go from 0 to 1-2-3 table spoons per 600ml of whipping cream.
- make sweet shortcrust pastry
- roll the pastry
- use cookie cutters to cut pastry to fit individual tartlets cases
- bake tartlet shells in preheated to 170C fan forced oven until golden
- cool baked shells on wire rack (if not using them on the day store in air tight container until needed)
- spread thin layer of orange marmalade
- add berries of your choice
- whip cream with just vanilla sugar until stiff peaks
- fill pastry bag or any other device with vanilla cream
- top each tartlet with as much or as little of vanilla cream as you like
- add shaved chocolate or any other topping of your choice
- last year I added Morello cherry sauce as well
These tartlets do not go soggy for at least 6 hours, depending on humidity of the environment. In hot weather and evaporative cooling working on full strength, pastry will start to soften in 3-5 hours.
The same tartlets can be made using larger individual tartlet moulds. I use thick paste of dried fruits, usually made from prunes, mixed with lemon juice, honey and ground walnuts for the bottom layer for those tartlets.
For making smaller, medium and bite size tartlets, I prefer to use Napoleon pastry. Proportionately it was lower butter and sugar content, and is best suited to keep pasty shells dry and even crunchy and not crumbly. These pastry shells can be baked well in advance and kept without changing their texture in air-tight container for a month or even longer. It is very convenient and I often bake this pastry shells as tartlets or horns and fill any number of them when I need.
Bite size Lemon Curd and Vanilla Berry Cream Tartlets
- make Napoleon pastry
- use tapioca flour to generously dust baking paper to roll pastry
- cut appropriate size circles in rolled pastry and use small size individual tartlet moulds
- for tiny, bite size tartlets use shallow mince pie baking tray
- bake in preheated to 17oC fan forced oven until golden
- cool baked tartlet shells on a wire rack, use filling in completely cool shells or, alternatively, use some and store the rest in air tight container until needed (I stored them up to 6 weeks without change in taste and texture)
- rolled pastry can be baked in flat shape to be used to make layered biscuits or mini cakes
- use lemon curd to make bottom layer of tartlet filling
- beat whipping cream (with 1-2 table spoons of sugar and 1 tea spoon of vanilla sugar per every 300 ml of whipping cream) until soft peaks
- add 2 serving spoons of raspberry (mixed berry) and chia jam and continue for 1-2 min
- fill pastry bag with berry cream and make the top layer of tartlets
- sprinkle shaved dark chocolate on top of whipped berry cream
Both raspberry chia jam and mixed berries chia jam can be use to add colour and flavour to vanilla cream as a topping for lemon curd tartlets.
I also made some tartlets with just vanilla berry cream and blueberries on top, as well as some mini cakes with raspberry and chia jam.
Bite size tartlets look beautiful in any setting. They are also a very flexible desert option with limitless variations of filings, either of your own making, or commercial one. They would be perfect with vanilla and chocolate custard, caramel sauces, with any thick jams, mousses, to name just the few options.