pancetta, leek, and goat cheese tartlets

They taste even better than they look

Remember once upon a time when I used to cook a lot. Not sure what happened or when it happened, but I just kind of stopped…and then recently, the baking bug has bitten again. It started with cookies. And then the tartlet pan (total impulse buy) was just sitting in the box, unused, whispering to me from beside the couch where I was storing it. So, I got online and found a recipe for delicious little tartlets (mini quiches, if you will). And tonight, I baked. And I had people over to my apartment for the first time in a while. And it was lovely. And the tartlets? Amazing, if I may be so bold.

The recipe isn’t mine, but I did improve the crust because, well, I’ve got some serious pastry skills (tart pastry anyway). So, without further ado, here’s the recipe (as posted on epicurious–originally seen in Bon Appetit):

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Ice water to texture

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 large)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
2/3 cup half and half
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Fresh parsley leaves (I didn’t use the garnish)

For crust:

  • Blend flour and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter and cream cheese. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough; shape into 6-inch-long log. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  • Cut log into 24 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Press 1 round into each cup of 2 nonstick 12-cup mini muffin pans; freeze 30 minutes.

having the right equipment is key

And what I did: 

  • Put the flour, cream cheese, and butter in a bowl and place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes (assuming you started with cold cream cheese and butter–if not, freeze it longer). 
  • Using a pastry cutter–this is imperative for keeping all the ingredients chilled which is what will give you the lovely, light, flakey crust you want–cut the butter and cream cheese into the flour until you have pea-sized balls of dough. 
  • Slowly add ice-cold water (a tablespoon at a time) until the dough just comes together to form a ball. 
  • If the dough feels at all greasy (like the butter has started to soften), refrigerate it for 5-20 minutes. 
  • Roll the dough out to 1/4″ thickness and cut circles (I use a cutter) large enough for whatever pan you are using (muffin tin, mini-muffin tin, tartlet pans), place the rounds in the pan and then freeze for 10-20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare filling: (No changes here–except the parsley garnish)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté 10 minutes; cool. Heat oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta; sauté until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels. Whisk half and half and next 3 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Mix in goat cheese, then leeks and pancetta.
  • Spoon filling into shells. Bake until filling is set and crust edges are golden, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, cover, and chill in pans. Rewarm uncovered in 350°F oven 12 minutes.)
  • Using small knife, cut around tartlets to loosen. Turn out tartlets and arrange on platter; top each with parsley leaf 

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