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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Favorite Kitchen Tools, Part I

I have lots of fun little kitchen tools, and I use them all. NOT.

Recently, I started throwing some of my kitchen tools away.  Like the little cheese slicer that is supposed to produce even slices of cheese from the blade that's under the little roller that's supposed to glide gracefully over the top of the chunk of cheese.  Sound confusing?  It was.   All it did was make a mess.  Wish I took a picture of it before I tossed it so you could see it and know to avoid adding it to your collection of kitchen tools.

But I'm getting off the subject, which is supposed to be favorite kitchen tools.
Like this.

No, it's not a little wooden barbell.  It's my mini tart-shaper.  I purchased it at a little Pampered Chef soiree I went to about 15 years ago.  I don't know if they are made by any other manufacterer and/or available for purchase anywhere else, but if you can't find one you should consider purchasing one the next time you go to a Pampered Chef party.  It is so much better than trying to shape tart shells with your fingers or knuckles.

I have been happily making jelly tarts ever since.

This recipe will make approximately 24 jelly tarts.  I doubled it so I could share with a friend.

Jelly Tarts
                                           Dough Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour* (for those with Gluten sensitivities, I have also made this recipe using Gluten-free flour and it works well)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 oz. of cream cheese
(*you will also need a bit of extra flour, to dip the tart-shaper in when filling the shells)

Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite jams and jellies (seedless raspberry jam, apricot jam and lemon curd are favorites)
Place butter and cream cheese in large bowl and mix on medium speed to combine.

You are not seeing double.  I doubled this recipe, remember?  So--yes, those are two sticks of butter and a full 8 oz. package of cream cheese in the bowl of my mixer.  Mix on a medium speed to combine.  Once combined, add flour and mix on medium.

I do not soften the butter or the cream cheese first; the dough will be too soft and difficult to work with if you soften the ingredients first.  However,  if your mixer is not heavy duty and you need to soften the butter first, simply refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or so after you finish mixing in the flour. 

Shape the dough into one-inch balls and place the balls in the wells of a mini-muffin tin.  I scoop the dough out of the bowl with a tablespoon, this way they are relatively the same size and then I roll it in my palms for a second or two to shape it.

I fill a small ramekin with a bit of extra flour, to dip the tart-shaper into to help prevent it from sticking to the dough.  Alternating, first dip the tart shaper into the flour.........

........and then press it into the dough to shape your tarts.
How perfect is that?

After you have shaped all of the tarts, you need to fill them with jam.

I use a measuring teaspoon for scooping up the jam to fill the tarts.  It is exactly the right amount and the spoon is perfectly shaped for popping the jam into the tart. 

You want to make sure you don't overfill the tarts.......the jelly will bubble as the tarts cook, and if it spills over onto the side of the tart you will find it impossible to remove the tarts from the pan.  The jelly will glue them to the pan.

I use the end of another spoon to "help" the jam slide into the tart.  You could use your fingers, but I find it much quicker (and a lot less messy!) to use another spoon.
After the tarts are all filled, bake in a 350 degree oven for about 22 minutes, just until the tarts start to brown around the edges.

When you remove them from the oven, be careful not to tip the pans too much.....the jam melts when they cook and it's easy for it to slosh out of the tart shells if you jostle them too much before they cool.  But the jam settles down nicely while it cools.
 You may be anxious to eat them while they are still warm.  You should wait.  Wait until the jam has cooled and jelled again, because if you remove them while they are too warm and the jam is still runny, the jam will run out.  Then you will be left with an empty tart, with no jam.  This has happened to me.

After they have cooled, remove them from the pan.  Enjoy!!

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