Quick, easy, and pretty desserts are vital when it comes to impromptu events. Individual tarts seem to fit this category as I’ve made quite a few in this week alone. They really are a breeze to do if you have each component (crust, filling, topping) prepped and on hand, ready to assemble at the last minute. Here are some tips for putting together a variety of little tarts for the neighbor that has just invited you over for dinner.
For the crust, I use a basic recipe that consists mainly of flour, ground nuts, and butter. There’s always a batch of this in the fridge, and if I know a day in advance that we’re invited to someone’s home, I’ll bake the tart shells ahead of time and keep them stored in an airtight container.
As a filling, chocolate ganache, the kind used as a truffle filling, takes only a matter of a few minutes if you have quality chocolate and heavy cream on hand (I believe this is a must if you love preparing desserts). Fresh fruit is the only item that might pose a problem as it all depends on what’s available at the market. Small chunks of clementine, strawberries, kiwis, seedless grapes or even candied nuts such as marron glace all work here.
An assortment of nuts is always good to have on hand. Almonds, macnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, etc. Chopped fine, they make an impressive edge when used in tandem with melted chocolate. I even prep the tart shells up to this point, so all that remains to be done the next day is a dollop of ganache and a piece of fruit.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup ground almonds or hazelnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 oz. sweet butter, cut in pieces
1 large egg + 1 tablespoon milk (or water), whisked together
Combine the flour, ground nuts, and sugar in a bowl. Add the butter pieces, and using your fingers, work the butter into the dough until it resembles crumbs. Add the egg/milk liquid to the flour mixture. Again, using your hands, work ingredients until all comes together. Knead briefly to combine and wrap with plastic. Let rest and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the tart shells: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Divide dough into approximately 16-18 pieces (depending on type of tin used). Press into tart shells and line with foil and small beans/pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes then remove foil and weights. Bake for another 12 minutes or until light golden brown in color. Cool briefly then remove from tins. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.