Strawberry balsamic tarts
How beautiful are these little strawberry tarts? I made these recently for a friend's baby shower, and they seemed to fit the part perfectly. But they would be equally fantastic on your Christmas table as a sweet and simple finish to a substantial meal - a modern take on a Christmas mince pie, if you will.
I've topped these with my easy, thick and creamy coconut yogurt and a few edible flowers (because who doesn't like edible flowers?!)
This recipe for pie crust is pretty simple too. It's a 'no-roll' crust, meaning you can just cut off small balls and work the mixture up and around cupcake pans. So if you've never worked with pie dough before (or if you've tried and failed in the past!), this one is a good place to start.
Here are a few pointers to ensure you keep on track:
- Make sure the water you use in the crust is ice cold. Either throw a bottle of water into the freezer for half an hour before you start (don't forget to take it out!) or by adding a few ice cubes into a bowl of water to chill it down nicely.
- The secret here is not to overwork the dough. Because we're using regular flour, you want to avoid activating the gluten too much. Gluten is the protein in bread which helps to bind everything together, gets really stretchy, and creates a 'chew'. While that is perfect for bread, when it comes to pie crust we want something which is light and flaky. So just when you think you want to give it a few more turns in the mixer, pull back and stop. If you are a perfectionist at heart, this is going to be excruciatingly painful for you. Breathe, and trust it will work out in the end.
- You will also want to make sure you rest the dough in the fridge after mixing. This helps the gluten relax and will make the shaping process much easier. If you think about a pulled muscle, when it's just been pulled it will be incredibly tense and hard to work. If you let it rest a little first, it will be much easier to massage into place.
- Finally, many people struggle with (*ahem*) "shrinkage". This is when the pie crust looks beautiful in the pan, but when you bake it, it shrinks back into itself and down from the sides. Two tricks to avoiding this - the first is to ensure that when you shape the dough you create a little overlap over the lip of the pie pan. This will give the dough something to grab onto if it decides to shrink back. The second is to ensure that your finished pie pans have a chance to cool down properly in the fridge before baking. Again, this resting period means the gluten won't tense up and contract when it enters the hot oven.
Remember, patience is a virtue. Try not to rush things or skip steps and you'll be perfectly fine.