Friday, March 30, 2007

mini pecan & amaretti tartlets

Around this time (early spring) of the year, in my yard I'll start to see hundreds of small holes on the ground. My husband said they're from squirrel digging, most probably looking for the food they hid during the winter. But the funny thing is, the squirrels can't remember where the food hidden, so they'd dig here and there. I'm a squirrel - manage inventory in the same manner. Yesterday I passed the pantry (with any trace of intention things won't show up you know...), I spotted some unshelled nuts, chestnut cream (be in the next post), gourmet cookies... time for clearance.

I'd continue to use a recipe from Flo Braker's. I've only read two of her cook books (published in the early 90) so far, quite technical, but not difficult. She's been teaching for so many years, she knows what make us stupid; she'd take us away from there to the next level. Leading us to next level is not a thing I find in some celebrity chefs nowaday, in my opinions.

Recipe: (yield 10 - 12 mini tartlets)

Filling recipe: I took this recipe as reference, and scaled down. Since I aimed for paste-like consistency, so I gounded the pecans, reduced a bit of sugar and replaced with a handful of amaretti, fine crumble. Plus some halved pecan as garnish.

Tartlet pastry dough's recipe: *adapted from Sweet Miniatures by Flo Braker*
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/8 cup + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 small egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine flour, salt and sugar. Drop in butter slices, use a pastry blend to cut them into flour mixture until they have the consistency of very coarse cornmeal.
  • Whisk the egg and vanilla, add into the flour mixture, slightly knead as needed until the dough is formed.
  • This step I'm very different from Flo's. She'd just pinch out some dough and press into tins. But I wrapped the dough, send it to fridge to rest for an hour. Then roll it to a 1/8-inch-thick flat sheet (in between rollings, sending back to chill and rest is required). Cut out the round circles and place them into pre-greased and pre-floured mini tart tray. *
  • Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  • Spoon the filling into tart dough, top with a halved pecan. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until light golden. When the tray is cool enough to touch, unmold, let the tartlets cool completely on rack.

Flo's note: either method you use to shape the dough, please complete one task before beginning another, e.g., first to complete pinching out all the individual dough (my way would be cutting all circles out), second, rolling all the doughs as a ball (N/A to mine), then finally to proceed shaping the dough to ensure it distributes evenly. Handling one movement at a time is easier and faster. You discover you own rhythm from the repetition.



MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Beautiful Gattina. I've not looked at any Flo Braker - thanks for putting her notes there. I like very much the way that sounds. I'll try to look for some of her books in the library.

Madam Chow said...

Another beautiful post. My aunt (who's 77 and a lifelong baker), swears by Flo Braker - her recipes work, and provide extensive descriptions of techniques.

Brilynn said...

Your mini creations are always so pretty!
And my Dad is constantly complaining this year that the squirrels are everywhere and getting into everything!

Callipygia said...

I want to move in with you! I promise I won't bury nuts in your backyard.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have something to say: visiting your blog makes ME want to go to the next level - the level you are at, Gattina. You're such an inspiration!

That tartlets are so tiny and cute! I'd have many of them, always asking for more!

Gattina Cheung said...

Tanna, Flo has shown at one of Bakign with Julia tv show, that's how I started knowing her. She isn't an excellent writer (esp I know you can write very well :D), but she's an superb baker indeed.

Madam Chow, we just can't beat classic! Flo, is one of the classic :D

Sher, yes, I remember you're from the South :D I still put out some nuts to feed squirrels, but sometimes they can be nasty (in my human sense), one of them had destroyed a bird house in order to get bird eggs. Well, that's wild life... You're my perfect tea-time buddy I know :D

Brilynn, I was from a city so you know, I don't have much idea about animals/wild life... hope those squirrels don't bug your dad too much. Oh thanks for your compliement, esp from a fantastic baker like you, it means a lot to me :D

Calli, hehee... you never fail to make me laugh. Have anyone approached you publishing a book/ comic... I promise, I'll be the first one lining up outside a bookshop :D

Pat, oh darling, you're already over the top, how high you can go :p You're so sweet *big hug*

Anonymous said...

Yum, yum, yum! These look great! They're another one of your creations I could eat the whole batch in one sitting! :)

Anh said...

Beautiful tart, Gattina! And a cute note about the squirrels. I am also a city girl and have to learn a lot about wild life. :D I will post about my recent encounter with a cute animal, too, when time permits. :D

Peabody said...

Those look luscious.

Freya said...

I have a Flo Braker book on Baking Cakes and I love how perfect they all look. However, this is also what has scared me off making any because I'm not very perfect when it comes to baking!! Your tartlets have persuaded me to take another look!

Unknown said...

I'm drooling at all your pastries dear. Im flat out, by work and the flu bug, so not churning out anything for the past weeks.

Mishmash ! said...

When I am in a mood to make tarts I know where to come now...a safe place with tempting pictures and tested recipes :) Btw, that was a cute write up on squirrels :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Lovely pictures and delicious looking tarts. Pecan pie is my dad's favorite and I imagine that he would enormously enjoy these bite-sized morsels.

Edith said...

G, I would love to make these in small tart tin, will it be easy to get it off as some recipes tends to get stuck to the tin (I don't have small removebase base tart tin). Thanks.

Gattina Cheung said...

Chris, thank you :D me too, couldn't just stop at one.

Anh, your Pat is too cute, although I might not have gut to get that close to take his photo.

Peabody, thanks a lot =)

Freya&Paul, the only one thing I critize (if I being anal...) about her book, she could have written better, her points could have elaborated more... most of her recipes, seems to me, may not be ready for novice bakers. About the look, hey, yours dishes always look superb too :D

Angie, flu and work seem getting along, and when they come, they'd come hand-in-hand. Maybe your body really needs rest (?), any long holiday coming up? *hug*

Snh, thanks sweetie! If you're an accomplished pie/tart baker, the mini size definitely not any of a problem :D

Lynn, I can tell your dad just like mine... sweet tooth!!! Thanks for dropping by, you have a lovely blog :D

Edith, mine aren't with any removable-base either. They're bake in mini-tart tray (8 holes in one tray). Please just follow the step, I have no problem to remove any of the tarts perfectly :D Hope you have a success too :D

Katie said...

Those look fabulous!
I love pecan pie! It's been years since I've had one - maybe next trip back.
You have such patience to make such beautiful little packages!