mini savory potato, leek, bacon & goat cheese tarts

I haven’t been blogging.

It’s not that I haven’t been baking. Believe me. I’ve been baking. A LOT. It’s just that sometimes I don’t have the time to follow through with a blog post.

But I miss it. I miss my ramblings. I miss telling y’all what I’m up to. I miss seeing your comments. I also miss thinking that my blog is inspiring y’all to bake.

So let’s give this another go.

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Last night I decided to pair up a kale chopped chicken salad (Kelly from the Gouda Life’s recipe) with a savory tart. Basically I made mini quiches. But since the manfriend isn’t a fan of quiche, I figured if I call it the “mini savory tart” he’ll think it’s pretty delicious and gobble it up.

I was correct.

Mini quiches would not have been a success. HOWEVER the mini tart was. And man was it good.

baconthinly sliced leekthinly sliced new potato

Thinly sliced new potatoes, leeks and bacon topped with a crème fraiche filling. Encased in a light and flakey pastry shell. Topped with a slice of goats cheese brie.

This tart packed a punch. A punch of amazingness.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s great for dinner. But I’m also going to have leftovers for lunch today. And it’d be great for a brunch.

Maybe a Mother’s Day brunch? Good thing I’m sharing the recipe now eh? You can make it at home and impress mom.

mini savory potato, bacon & leek tarts

pastry dough

ingredients:

2 c. flour

1 tsp salt

¾ c. COLD butter, cubed

6-7 tbsp COLD heavy cream (or ice water)

eggwash:

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp salt

*this recipe makes enough for 24 mini tarts. So divide in half for the purposes of this recipe – freeze the rest. That way your dough is already ready when you want to bake more mini tarts!

Place the flour and salt into the bowl of your food processor (obviously this can also be made by hand, however, I really do like how my pastry turns out when I use the food processor). Pulse a couple of times to incorporate the dry ingredients.

Add all the cold butter.

Pulse again a few times – you still want pea-sized clumps of butter. Don’t pulse it too much.

Add the cold heavy cream, about 2 tbsp at a time. You’ll see that the dough will start to come together. You want it to hold together when pinched between your fingers, but still loose.

Dump the dough out of the bowl, gather it together and then wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Get the filling and savory ingredients together.

crème fraiche filling:

7 ounces crème fraiche

2 eggs

Sea salt & pepper

¼ of a whole nutmeg, grated

savory ingredients:

4 mini potatoes, boiled and thinly sliced

½ leek, white part thinly sliced

2 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled on a paper napkin to soak oil, then chopped into pieces

Goat cheese brie, cut into wedges

Remove the dough from the fridge and generously flour your work surface. Roll out the dough. I always, always, ALWAYS roll my dough in one direction. Then I lift then entire dough, turn it a quarter, and roll it again. Repeat. That way you ensure that your dough doesn’t stick on your surface. And you have more control of the overall thinness achieved.

I use a 12 mini tart pan – so in order to fill each mold, I cut a square of the pastry dough, line the tart pan, trim the edges. Repeat. These tart pans are available just about anywhere … but feel free to use your regular muffin/cupcake pan. It’s the perfect size for individual tarts. Remember, we aren’t making bite-sized tarts, so no mini muffin tins this time!

Line each tart shell with a cupcake liner and then fill with chickpeas. Place the pan in your fridge for 30 minutes. This allows the pastry to rest again.

Heat your oven to 375 F.

Blind bake the tart shells for 15 minutes on the lowest rack in your oven.

At the 15 minute mark, take the pan out of the oven. Remove the chickpeas and paper liners and gently brush the entire pastry shell with your egg wash.

Return the shells to the oven, and continue baking on the lower rack for a further 8 minutes (I checked mine after 5 minutes just to be on the safe side).

Once blind baked … fill your tart shells!

layer potato, leek & bacon

Layer the tart shells with potato slices, then slices of leek, the bacon.

cover with creme fraiche

Spoon 3 tablespoons worth of filling over each tart shell. Add more if you have leftover filling. Use it all.

Top each tart with a wedge of cheese.

topped with brie - close up

Bake for 25 minutes on the upper rack in your oven (the bottom of your tart shells already baked, now you want the rest of it too).

baked tarts!

When done – remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before digging into the tart. They really are best at room temperature. Then try to eat just one. I bet you can’t. Which is why you should probably double the filling recipe and make 2 dozen of these. You’ll be happy you did. I promise.

 

double chocolate tart

Oh my goodness. I’ve just realized that it’s Valentine’s day and I haven’t posted a recipe yet.

Which is such a shame because this recipe … it kinda TOTALLY rocks!

double chocolate tart

It’s all about a rich chocolate mousse encased in a dark chocolate pastry shell and then topped with light meringue: torched to perfection. Consider it a s’mores tart only without any graham crackers. Or marshmallows. So not a s’mores tart at all. It’s a double chocolate tart made for lovers. Or non-lovers. Or platonic friends. It’s a tart that shows that *special* someone that you care about them; and that you want them to eat something delicious on the *most* romantic day of the year.

You might think it’ll be too sweet.  It’s not.

You might think it’ll be too decadent. It’s not.

You might think you can’t possibly make it. You can.

All you need to do is break it down into three simple steps:

Chocolate pastry dough – easy

Chocolate mousse filling – super easy

Meringue – simple

That’s it. I have faith that you can make this. Quite frankly, this is a good tart. You should make it for that reason alone. Forget Valentine’s day; bake this because you love to bake and you love chocolate.

double chocolate tart

ingredients:

¼ c. cocoa powder

1 ½ c. flour

125 g cold butter, cubed

½ c. icing sugar

3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the meringue)

1 tbsp iced water

1 egg white

chocolate pastry dough ingredients

Place the cocoa, flour, butter and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor (using the dough blade) and process until the mixture is incorporated. Not quite breadcrumbs, slightly larger than that.

While the motor is running, add the egg yolks. Once they have been incorporated, add the iced water. You’ll notice that this is when the dough really comes together.

ps – you’ll notice that in the photo above I added the egg yolks at the beginning. no big deal. the pastry still comes together.

patting the dough into the tart pan

That’s it. You’re done. Place the pastry dough in your tart pan – I start by putting it all in the middle of the pan and then by using my fingertips, I gently press the dough along the base and up the sides. I’ll be honest, I get enough pastry dough to line both a 9-inch tart pan and a 9 x 3 rectangular tart pan.

unbaked tart shell

Brush the tart base with your lightly beaten egg white and then chill for 20 minutes.

Heat your oven to 325 F.

When you’re about ready to pre-bake the tart shell, use a fork to pierce the top of the dough – go crazy! You want to ensure that the dough doesn’t puff up as it bakes, so pierce away!

Bake on a low rack in your oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Time to make the decadent chocolate mousse.

chocolate mousse

ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 eggs, separated

¼ c. sugar

½ c. heavy cream

½ tsp vanilla

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate together. Once the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and beat the chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Transfer chocolate to another bowl, use a whisk to beat in the egg yolks. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill.

Beat the egg whites with half the sugar (2 tbsp) until they hold stiff peaks. Set aside. Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and the vanilla until it holds in soft peaks.

Remove the chocolate from the fridge and spoon a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. It will lighten the chocolate a bit. Fold in the remaining egg whites, a little at a time. You want to be gentle because this is where the airiness of the mousse comes from.

Fold in the cream.

Refrigerate until chilled, and slightly thickened. This isn’t a very stiff mousse, but it does become gorgeously thick as it chills.

Fill the pastry shell with the chocolate mousse. Return to the fridge while you make the meringue.

layer of mousse

bakers note: I decided not to make an Italian or Swiss meringue for this tart and stuck with the traditional French meringue. Any of the meringue types will work – this is just the simplest version.

meringue

ingredients:

3 egg whites

good pinch of cream of tartar

1/3 c. sugar

In the bowl of a stand-mixer, using the whisk attachment, slowly start to beat the eggs until they foam, add the cream of tartar. Increase the speed until you’re at medium-high speed, and slowly add the sugar. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, increase the speed to as high as it’ll go. Beat until you get stiff peaks when you lift the whisk attachment out of the bowl.

layer of meringue on chocolate mousse

completely covered in meringue

Cover the layer of chocolate mousse with the meringue; then grab that torch of yours - and torch the meringue until it’s toasty and golden!

torhced

Chill your tart in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

choux pastry challenge

I love making choux pastry. It’s the kind of recipe that is so ridiculously simple to make; but it packs such a punch – impressing the socks off of your friends and family.

That’s why we decided it would be the perfect baking crew challenge.

Simple recipe with jaw-dropping results. Win – Win.

I’ve been making choux pastry for the past several months; but I’ve only made eclairs: choux pastry filled with pastry cream (or eggnog pastry cream during the holidays) … so I decided that I wanted to make profiteroles. Little balls of doughy goodness filled with both whipped cream and chocolate chantilly (whipped chocolate).

Doesn’t that sound perfectly delightful?

I thought so.

Until I arrived for our baking crew gathering.

table of choux

Mother of pearl … was I ever impressed!

Tom & Aimee had decided on making swans. That’s right. Perfect little chocolate choux swans filled with chocolate chantilly.

showstoppers

A showstopper? Heck ya.

Meredith decided to up the ante a little by making a gateau st. honore. This decadent cake is made up of a base layer of puff pastry, ringed with choux pastry piped on the outer edge. The centre is filled with pastry cream, and then more cream puffs are baked and filled with whipped cream, dipped in caramelized sugar and then placed, side by side, on top of the choux pastry ring. A layer of piped whipped cream finishes it off.

Not only did Meredith make the choux pastry. She also went ahead and made the puff pastry.

So impressive.

I loved it.

slice of meredith's choux

Cory either couldn’t decide on what he wanted to make … or he really wanted to impress the heck out of all of us. Either way … the result was a plethora of absolutely delicious pastries.corys choux

Whipped dijon potatoes with rare beef and chives sandwiched between a little choux pastry bun.

Chocolate caramel variation of a Paris-Brest (a cream puff ring filled with flavoured cream): whipped cream, chocolate, caramel. I’d just like to mention that the caramel was perfectly bitter.

Caramel drizzled profiteroles filled with whipped cream.

Braided strawberry choux wheel with creme patisserie and creme chiboust. Another showstopper.

Ridiculous right?

Why I thought my little chocolate chantilly, whipped cream filled profiteroles were going to impress my friends … I do not know!

People keep asking what we do once we all sit down and start to eat our baked treats. Well … this challenge was a perfect example of the baking crew at its best.

A great choux pastry is light and airy on the inside (it puffs up as it bakes), but has a crust on the outside. Make sense?

Since we all used different recipes, we were able to compare the different results.assortment of choux

Tom & Aimee used the Thomas Keller recipe – which called for them to rest the choux pastry overnight, as well as bake it for 75 minutes … we all agreed they could have used a little longer in the oven. It wasn’t quite crispy enough. But in impressive factor … they knocked it out of the park.  They made chocolate swans!  Who doesn’t love a chocolate swan?

Cory had a similar issue with all his choux. I thought his was the best flavour, but it didn’t puff up quite as much as he would have liked. Since we had so many to choose from … I’d have to say that the braided strawberry choux wheel was addictively delightful. Think of it as an updated strawberry shortcake … only 100 million times better. It was THAT good.

Meredith’s gateau st. honore had a great texture and flavour: add to that rich pastry cream and perfectly flakey puff pastry … you’ve got yourself a real winner.

I’d tell you more about my profiteroles … but really … they were a little ho hum. I found after tasting the others choux that mine was a little too eggy. I can claim to having the best exterior crunch and puffy interior … as proclaimed by the baking crew, not my own huge ego ;0)