I slept on sharing this, but don't you sleep on making it! Back in March, when witchy ol’ winter was blue-balling us with one nice sunny day scrunched into an infinite vortex of terrible winter shit, cranberries made perfect sense. The tart red pop usurped the reign of mealy cellar apples, and the whole she-bang was and is buttery enough to be a big middle finger to everything that isn’t down-home and comforting. The tartlets are none too sweet and super tasty, with the right tang and savory kick from the goat cheese anchoring the zest of the cranberries; I’m not terribly sorry that cranberries are out of season though, because there’s about to be any number of beautiful early May fruits with which to make this. Since spring is here, rhubarb would be my number-one choice for replacing the cranberries. The stalk pairs very nicely with goat cheese, but you could also wait a few weeks for the juiciest strawberries to get to market, or hold out for peak summer black raspberries and their ilk. No matter what, this is a pretty fun way to practice puff pastry and top it with whatever fruit inspires you into the kitchen.
And on a quick personal note, I’ve been so busy at my new job, which is why this recipe is two months late. Forgive and forget, and then bake these little bad boys with rhubarb. Consider it my mea culpa.
Goat cheese + fruit puff pastry tartlets
Rough Puff Pastry
Below is one-half of a full recipe, which is just what you'll need to make about six large tartlets. See full proportions and a photo tutorial here if you'd like.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
3 1/4 sticks (26 tablespoons) unsalted, very cold butter, cut into half-inch cubes
1/2 cup very cold water
1. Sift together dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add butter chunks, and mix on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Drizzle the water over the top and mix on the lowest speed for 15 seconds.
2. Dump flour mixture onto clean counter or pastry board. Using your hands and a bench scraper, push the crumbly mass into a long rectangle, with the long end parallel to your body. Using the bench scraper, fold the right third of the dough over into the center and then the left third of the dough into the center on top; it's like folding a business letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees.
3. Reshape and push the dough into a rectangle again. Repeat the folding and turning two more times for a total of three times folded. If the dough becomes soft, just refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes and continue. Once you've completed your turns, wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Remove dough from fridge and repeat process with three more turns. Where in the previous round your were mostly using your hands to push and shape the dough, a well-floured rolling pin will the do the trick now that the dough is more pliable. After the three turns (for a grand total of six), let dough rest, wrapped in fridge for 30 minutes; your dough is now ready to use! When baking, remember to preheat the oven to 425 degrees for about an hour ahead of time, if you can.
5. To prepare the tartlets, roll the puff pastry into a thickness of slightly more than one-quarter inch. Divide into six or seven roughly equal 3-inch squares. Nestle into 6-inch tartlet pans or ring molds, and freeze while you assemble the fillings.
For goat cheese filling
10 ounces soft chevre
2 extra-large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
For fruit topping
10 ounces cranberries, or chopped fruit of your choosing
Zest of half an orange
½ vanilla bean scraped
¼ to ½ cup granulated sugar (less if you’re using a sweet fruit)
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1. First, be sure your oven is preheating to 425, and has been for some time! Then, whip the goat cheese in a stand mixer on medium high until it’s uniformly smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each, then add the honey. Mix until smooth, then beat in sugar and salt. Taste, and adjust sugar and salt levels if you like. Set aside.
2. Toss the cranberries of other fruit with zest, vanilla beans, granulated sugar, allspice, and sea salt. Set aside.
3. To finish assembly and bake: Divide the goat cheese filling among your tartlets, about two to three tablespoons per. Divide the fruit topping among the tartlets; it’s totally permissible and awesome to mound the fruit up and have everything look like it’s going to topple. If your oven is not yet hot enough, pop the tartlets back into the freezer, and bake off any puff pastry scraps that might be floating around.
4. Place the tartlets on a sheet tray, and bake for 25 minutes at 425, before turning the oven down to 375 for the final 20 minutes to finish. The cranberries will be popped and the puff pastry a light golden brown when everything is finished. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before popping tarts out from their pans.