Have you tried these Italian pastries? They are a lovely addition to any dessert table and can be found at any Italian bakery throughout NY city and the surrounding suburbs. Since Easter is just around the corner you may want to impress your family with this lovely recipe.
The filling for the tart is usually almond flavored but I used vanilla instead because I have some family members who won’t eat anything with almond extract. The almond flavored filling is just as delicious as the vanilla, so feel free to use either based on your preferences. You don’t even need to have tart pans to make these, you can make them in regular-sized muffin pans or mini muffin pans.
On another note, I’m so glad Spring has finally sprung. How do I know, you might ask. Some Crocus finally bloomed in the yard this week, I heard peepers in the distance and the last stubborn snow pile is almost gone – yay! Are you ready for warmer weather and Easter?
Yield: 12 tarts Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (I used the shortening in bar form)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg, 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 (I substituted 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
Egg Wash and Sprinkle:
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons milk
- powdered sugar for sprinkling
Step 1: For the filling: Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan with a whisk until all lumps are gone. Slowly add the milk while continuing to whisk the mixture. Add the butter to the mixture. Place the saucepan on medium heat and cook while stirring with a wooden spoon. The butter will melt as the mixture heats up. The mixture will thicken in about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Let cool.
Step 2: For the dough: In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the shortening into flour mixture until it looks like a coarse cornmeal. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands to combine. The dough should quickly come together into a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the filling cools completely.
Step 3: For assembly: You can prepare your tart or muffin pans by spraying them with cooking spray or line your muffin pans with paper cupcake liners. I use the cupcake liners for easier cleanup. Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour. Divide the dough in half and transfer the dough onto the floured surface. I usually flour the rolling pin too. Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. If you’re using 3 by 1 1/4 inch tart pans, use a 3 inch round or fluted biscuit cutter to cut the dough for the tops and bottoms. If you’re using regular-sized muffin pans, use a 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut half the dough for the bottoms and a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter for the remaining dough for the tops. Reroll dough scraps as needed to cut out all the circles.
Step 4: For each of the 12 tarts, press the 3+ inch dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart or muffin wells. If using the tart shells, place them on a cookie sheet. Add about 2 tablespoons of the filling in each tart. When using muffin tins, place the smaller 2 1/2 inch dough circles on top of the tarts and pinch the edges closed. When using the tart pans, place the remaining 3 inch dough circles on the top of the tarts and pinch the edges closed Mix the beaten egg and milk and use a pastry brush to spread some of the egg wash on the top of the tarts Place the tarts in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Bake the tarts for 12 to 15 minutes in the middle of a preheated 425 degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Cool on racks. If making the miniature tarts (mini muffin pans; about 24 tarts), bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and coffee or espresso.
Recipe adapted from Celebrations Italian Style by Mary Ann Esposito.
Tips: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.