Crostatine di marmellata (mini latticed jam tarts)
|July 30, 2010||Posted by ameliaps under any season, crostata, crostatine, dessert, Italian, jam, summer, sweets|
Crostata, which many of you might be already familiar with, is a traditional Italian latticed jam tart. Growing up it was a staple afternoon snack in my home (as well as in many other Italian homes). My mother would bake one with the jam or marmalade of the season (strawberries and blackberries in the spring, peaches and apricots in the summer, tangerines and kumquats in the fall, oranges and lemons in winter). And then there was my all time favorite: chocolate and sun-dried sour cherries (my aunt Silvana made these amazing preserves by patiently drying the sour cherries on large wood trays in the sun over the summer creating a sugary syrup that was all natural and that captured the intense flavors of summer for the winter months), a tart that is a burst in flavor, a luscious velvety ganache with a pinch of tartness from the cherries.
Crostata is so popular with kids in Italy that a famous industrial baker (“il Mulino Bianco”, which translates into “the White Mill”) makes a packaged version of it, in small snack size and calls it “Crostatine”, which in Italian means small jam tarts.
My two young kids have taken on my crostata-loving genes and so I decided to make them small ones for their summer afternoon snack. I followed the pastafrolla dough recipe (a buttery and crumbly shortcrust pastry) of Pellegrino Artusi, author of the famous Italian cookbook “La scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene” (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well) written in 1891. If you have leftover pastry, turn it into small crunchy and sweet round cookies.
My kids also have the luck of being in the kitchen with their mom…like I did with mine…watching her bake and patiently waiting for the sweets to come out of the oven, sniffing in all the good and sweet aromas which will create special memories in their mind. I know it
As far as the fruit jam, try to select one that is relatively low in sugar (ideally less than 40% sugar content) so it will not turn sticky, or worst, burn because of excessive caramelization. When I make jams I stay to stay within a ratio of 3:1 fruit to sugar, depending on the fruit. For this batch I chose apricot jam (marmellata di albicocche), since it is one of my favorite summer fruits.
Crostatine di marmellata (mini latticed jam tarts)
Recipe by Pellegrino Artusi, “La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene”
Yields 15 mini tarts or one large tart
2 cups (250 g) AP flour, unbleached
1/2 cup (125 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup (110 g) sugar
1 medium egg
1 cup (260 g) fruit jam (such as apricot, plum, or sour cherry)
If the granulated sugar is coarse, it is preferable to process it briefly in a food processor or coffee grinder. Mix flour and sugar, then work the butter in with the tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and work briefly until the dough just holds together.
It is important not to overwork the dough (do not knead it) or it will harden when baked.
A food processor works perfectly to make the dough: start by placing flour and sugar in the work bowl, process for a few seconds to mix, then add the butter and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the egg and yolk and process a few seconds more until the dough forms. Do not overprocess.
Wrap the dough in a towel or wax paper and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
If making crostatine:
On a lightly floured board roll a little less than 2/3rds of the pastry dough to a 1/8-in (3 mm) thickness
Using a 2.5 inch (6mm) round cookie cutter make 15 rounds and place them on parchment paper.
Place them in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking so you have better chances of keeping the shape.
Now take off a small piece of dough and roll it in long thin logs. Use these to make the sides of the tarts.
Using the same cookie cutter as a guide try to re-adjust the shape. Using a fork prick the bottom of the tarts.
Now add a tablespoon of the jam inside each tart.
Roll out the remaining dough as much as you can into a square or rectangular shape. Using a pizza cutter cut out strips and place in lattice shape over each tart.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake the tartlets until golden, watching carefully so they don’t burn, about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
If making ONE big tart:
On a lightly floured board roll 2/3 of the pastry dough to a 1/8-in (3 mm) thickness, and line with it the bottom and sides of a 9-in (23 cm) tart pan with scalloped edges and a removable bottom. The sides should be lined with a slightly thicker layer of pastry than the bottom, about 1/4-in (0.5 cm). Fold back in the dough that is hanging over the sides to make a thicker lining along the sides. Cut of excess. Prick the pastry bottom with the tines of a fork in a few places, then spread with the jam. Do not use a deep tart mold.
Roll the remaining pastry on a lightly floured board slightly thicker than 1/8-in (3 mm), then with a sharp knife or pastry cutter cut it in strips 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) wide and make a lattice on top of the jam layer. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and bake the tart until golden, about 25 minutes. Unmold the tart as soon as it is ready and let it cool on a rack. If left in the pan it will turn irremediably soggy. It is great freshly baked but it definitely improves after a day or two, if kept in a closed container.