Archive for: tart crust
Pie and tart crusts tend to be on the plain side. Of course, they will taste buttery and have a nice crisp texture, but the flavor in a tart typically comes from the filling. To let the character analogy go a little further, a supporting character can make or break a show. This is true of a tart crust, as well, where a bad crust can ruin a tart and a good one can make it memorable. One way to make a tart crust more memorable is to give it a little extra flavor of its own. A touch of lemon zest or a touch of spice in the crust can go a long way in boosting the flavor in a tart.
This Maple Sugar Shortbread Tart Crust is a new fall favorite of mine. It uses maple sugar, which infuses a subtle maple flavor into the crust and gives it a lot more dimension than a plain shortbread crust typically has. Maple sugar is a sugar that is made from maple sap that has been boiled and crystallized. It is slightly sweet, but not so sweet that it takes anything away from a good tart filling. It is buttery and tender, and bakes up to have a nice crispness that holds up to most tart fillings.
This type of crust doesn’t need to be rolled out like a pie crust. The dough is crumbly, more like a regular shortbread cookie dough might be, and it can be dumped into your tart pan and pressed firmly into an even crust. This makes it very quick to make and quick to set up in the pan, since you don’t have to wait for the dough to chill or rest. The recipe will produce enough crust for a tart pan up to 11-inches in size, so if you are using a 9 or 10-inch pan, you may have a little bit leftover (roughly 1/3 cup or so, unless you want a very thick crust). I don’t mind having a little leftover when it comes to this dough, however, because extra tart dough can always be used to make a mini tart shell or two for other desserts.
This crust goes especially well with fall fillings, like sweet potato and pumpkin. It also goes well with vanilla-filled tarts, as the maple will stand out against the vanilla. The maple will be more subtle against a chocolate filling. And, of course, it works well with any tart filling that has a touch of maple already in it!
I love a buttery shortbread crust on a tart and it is a go-to for many of my favorite tart recipes. There are some tarts, however, that do a bit better when there is a little more chocolate involved and for those tarts I use a Chocolate Shortbread Tart Crust as the base. This easy-to-make shortbread is made with cocoa powder, which gives the crust a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor without making the crust too rich or heavy. In fact, the tart crust is crisp and tender, with a nice buttery note to it.
Like many shortbreads, this dough is made by cutting butter into a mixture of dry ingredients. The mixture should be fine and sandy, with the butter cut down to tiny pieces to create a tender shortbread. This can be done by hand, but mixing up the dough in the food processor is faster and easier. The finished dough is crumbly and is simply pressed into the tart pan, rather than being rolled out. This makes tart assembly very easy, especially since the crust doesn’t need any pie weights or special treatment before baking. The crust is a great base for all kinds of tarts. It can be baked completely and filled with pastry cream and fresh fruit, or filled with a rich chocolate ganache. It can also be used for baked tart fillings, and baked along with the filling rather than being prebaked.
This Apple Slab Tart is a great dessert for anyone that likes traditional tarts but that finds making them – tucking the crust into a tart pan, blind baking, etc – to be a bit of a fussy process. It’s a simple tart that requires no pie crust and is shaped free-form right on your baking sheet. It also has very few ingredients, so it is likely that you’ll always have the things on hand to make this. Another name for tarts like this one is a galette, though that term is typically applied to round free-form tarts, rather than rectangular ones.
The tart starts with a buttery, flaky homemade pie crust. The crust is simple to make both by hand and with a food processor, and since you don’t need to press it into a pie plate, even those who haven’t had great results with pies in the past can approach this with confidence. The crust has a hint of cinnamon and a very small amount of brown sugar in it to give it a little extra flavor. Homemade is going to give you the best results in this tart, although you can also try the same technique with puff pastry or storebought pie crust if you’re looking for a shortcut.
I use two medium sized apples when making this tart and often have a few slices that don’t get used. You can make it with just one large apple, but a few extra apple slices never hurt. The tart is not too sweet, so tart Granny Smiths might be a little too tart in this case. I typically use Fujis or Pink Lady apples (whatever I have around), but you can use just about any type of apple in this recipe. I peel them, core them and slice them thinly. The apples are tossed with a little sugar and topped with a little more just before baking for a nice finish. You can adjust these sugar amounts to suit your taste and the type of apples that you’re using.
This tart is great for brunch or for dessert. It is good served both warm and at room temperature, and the leftovers keep well. For brunch, dust it with confectioners’ sugar before serving. For dessert, drizzle it with a little caramel sauce or place a small scoop of ice cream on the side of each slice.
Vanilla and almond is a good combination in just about any dessert, so it should come as no surprise that a tart crust that combines those two flavors is a terrific basic tart crust recipe. This buttery Vanilla Almond Tart Crust has ground almonds and vanilla extract in it, and bakes up into a crisp and tender crust that can be used for all kinds of desserts. The recipe makes plenty of dough for a 9 or 10 inch tart pan, and can also be used for a number of smaller tarts, and it works well with both baked and unbaked tart fillings. It goes particularly well with chocolate fillings and fruit fillings, and I often use it as a base for my Strawberries and Cream Cheese Tart.
This tart dough comes together easily and is much less fussy than a pie crust can be. The dough has ground almonds in it and uses cake flour, which has less gluten in it than all purpose flour, to help produce a more tender crust. The cake flour should be measured by spooning it into your measuring cup, then sifting it into the rest of the tart ingredients. Cake flour can be clumpy if it is not sifted, but for this recipe it is not necessary to sift it before measuring it out.
This tart dough is very sticky, so it is important that you chill it well before using it. That stickiness also means that the dough will be crisp and tender after baking, not tough. I usually stick the dough into a gallon-sized plastic bag, press it into a flat layer and chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator or freezer (freezer is best if you need to chill your dough quickly). I then roll it out on a lightly floured surface and am ready to line my tart pans!
Traditional pie and tart crusts are great, no doubt about it. They’re tasty and work with just about every kind of tart filling you might imagine. But as much as I like them (and like making them), I also like variety and always have an eye out for alternative crusts that will work well with particular tarts.
This crust is a sugar cookie crust. It is made in much the same way as cookie dough – butter, creamed with sugar, then combined with dry ingredients – but is more crumbly and contains neither eggs nor leavening agents. The lack of leavening (and eggs, which can contribute rise to a dough) is pretty important for this crust to work because the cookie dough is pressed into the pan, not rolled out, and since there is nothing to give it “lift,” it holds its shape very well during baking.
I like this tart crust for no-bake fillings. A cream cheese and fruit filling, for instance, would work well here, as would a rich chocolate ganache filling. Since it is really little more than a simple cookie, it could also be paired with ice cream or custards to make a really quick and easy summer tart. For all no-bake fillings, the crust should be baked fully, until it is firm and golden, before being used. If you want to use it for a baked tart, where the filling is put into a partially baked crust and the whole thing is put back in the oven, you can simply par-bake the crust and put it back into the oven for a second go-round when you are ready.